Gerbe, BC Find Strength in 3s
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
- BC F Nate Gerbe
CHN's Mike Machnik talks to BC F Nate Gerbe after his hat trick to beat North Dakota in the NCAA semifinal, 6-1.
DENVER In Providence, R.I., in 1965, Boston College head coach Jerry York — long before he racked up 801 career victories behind the bench — scored three goals in a Frozen Four win over North Dakota. Forty-three years later, BC's Nathan Gerbe accomplished the same feat Thursday, once again sending the Eagles to the national championship game.
"I had no clue," said Gerbe, who also saw former Eagle Chris Collins score three in a FF game against North Dakota two years ago. "[Coach York] is a pretty humble guy, so he's never going to say that to me. That's stuff I have to look up."
Added the coaching legend, "That was a long way back. When I played, I was a sophomore. They were way better than we were, and our goaltender absolutely stole that game for us — it was Pat Murphy. At that time, the West was light years away from the East. It's been a great rivalry. I certainly hope Nathan's got a few left in him."
Gerbe, known for the energy and spark with which he provides his BC squad, scored in all different ways against North Dakota — one even-strength, one shorthanded, and one power-play goal. And his three tallies gave him 33 for the season, tying him with Michigan's Kevin Porter for tops in the nation.
Gerbe and Porter are, of course, two-thirds of the Hobey Hat Trick, with the winner of the prestigious Hobey Award set to be announced Friday evening in Denver. Porter is considered the frontrunner, and North Dakota goaltender Jean-Phillipe Lamoureux was believed by many to be deserving of being in the Hobey final three over Gerbe.
But on Thursday, on the biggest of national stages, Gerbe gave new meaning to the term "Hobey Hat Trick."
"Not just the goals, but in between periods, the character he brings to our club — he's just an outstanding player," said York. "He certainly fits into the long line of really high end players that Boston College has had over the span of the century."
Gerbe has led an explosive BC offense all season long — an offense that has scored over 3.5 goals per game this season and that, in recent weeks, has shown the capability to rapidly change the complexion of a game. In a March 8 game at Northeastern, the Eagles struck quickly for three goals in a 1:08 span to turn that game in their favor. In the Northeast Regional final, BC scored three goals in 1:58 to turn a 2-0 deficit against Miami into a 3-2 lead.
And in Thursday's Frozen Four victory over North Dakota, Gerbe scored two goals in less than two minutes in the first period, turning a 1-0 Eagles lead into a 3-0 advantage. The first goal came shorthanded, as the speedy 5-foot-5 Gerbe raced past 6-foot-7 North Dakota defenseman Joe Finley on a breakaway, sliding the puck between the pads of Lamoureux. Soon after, Gerbe struck again, throwing the puck on net from the right faceoff dot, sliding it under the senior netminder again.
Both first period goals were the result of Gerbe's trademark speed — something he's always known he's had to use.
"I kind of had to learn to skate fast because of my size," said the Oxford, Mich., native. "I was never the biggest kid and was never going to out-muscle anyone down low or anything. So I had to be quick to spin off, and I kind of learned that pretty young. And I came here and made strides with the coaching staff. Early in the morning, they're always giving me tips on skating drills I can do."
Gerbe's most impressive goal of the night may have been his third, a power-play tally in the second period that extended BC's lead to 5-0. Standing behind the goal line, Gerbe worked himself free, moving in front of the goal, to Lamoureux's right. With the puck on his backhand, he effortlessly flipped it over a sprawling Lamoureux for the goal.
And the hat trick.
Said York, "He's just so quick and so dynamic. He's dangerous when he has the puck. It doesn't matter what situation is on the ice. The power play goal — I've got to watch that some more. He kind of went around the net, roofed it up top. It was a pretty spectacular goal there.
"It was fun to watch Nathan work a little magic there tonight."
Gerbe now has points in his last eight games. And he has eight goals and six assists for a total of 14 points in 11 career NCAA contests.
The junior's hat trick was the third of his career, and he will now try and lead the Eagles to their third national championship in team history on Saturday night. It is of course the third consecutive appearance in the title game for BC, after three straight Frozen Four wins against North Dakota. Oh, and BC coach Jerry York is going for his third national title as a coach.
So will the third time be the charm for Gerbe, BC and York?
Well, as the college hockey world saw on Thursday, '3' just may be his lucky number.