Department of Defense
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
DENVER Boston College sophomore defenseman Carl Sneep played in every game for the Eagles this season, chipping in offensively with 15 points and remaining strong in his own end as well, with a plus-15 on-ice rating on the year.
But towards the end of the first period of Saturday's championship game against Notre Dame, Sneep crumpled to the ice after a slapshot him in his lower right leg.
The sophomore from Nisswa, Minn., would not return to the game, but the rest of the Eagles' blueliners rallied around the loss of Sneep, tightening things up defensively and allowing only one goal for the second consecutive game.
"As a D-corps, we kind of just said, 'We got to keep things simple. We're going to be out there logging a lot of minutes,'" said BC senior defenseman and captain Mike Brennan after leading his team to its first national championship since 2001. "You can't be as physical as you want to be because you've got to keep things simple and move pucks. That was our goal. Carl Sneep is a great player. He's one of our big time defensemen back there. When he went down, it was a little bit of an eye-opener. But this team's never fazed, ever, no matter what the score is. We always stick to our objectives, and that's exactly what we did."
One of those objectives was staying strong on the penalty kill. The Eagles faced eight power-play chances against in each of their two Frozen Four games this weekend. Their opponents, North Dakota and Notre Dame, went a combined 0-for-16.
Said Brennan, "The biggest thing was blocking shots and being tenacious. I think we're an aggressive team, and that's what we changed last month. We wanted to get on pucks, and that's what we did tonight."
Indeed, even though Sneep went down, the Eagles were prepared.
Said the nation's leading scorer, BC's Nathan Gerbe, "It's such a huge loss, especially in a game like this, but you've got to prepare for every situation. It's a tough sport. You're going to lose a lot of players down the line and in games. So you've got to prepare. Our D-corps did a great job, led by Mike Brennan here who rallied everyone together and kept it simple."
Despite the leg injury, there was no way Sneep was going to be kept off the ice for the postgame celebration.
"I threw the skates back on," said Sneep in the locker room afterwards, walking with a noticeable limp.
Sneep, who said he has a high ankle sprain with no fractures, was then quick to credit the remaining five BC defensemen — juniors Anthony Aiello, Tim Filangieri, and Tim Kunes, freshman Nick Petrecki, and of course, Brennan — for responding to the situation.
Said Sneep, "They did an awesome job. Playing a five-man defense is never easy, especially in a national championship game. Some of the other guys like Aiello did an awesome job tonight stepping up, playing in some positions they wouldn't normally play."
Each of the five defensemen who played the remainder of the title game for BC played at least 40 games this season.
"Our defensive corps has been unbelievable this year," said Eagles freshman goaltender John Muse. "We lost two starters at the beginning of the year. Tim Kunes and Anthony Aiello jumped right in and played unbelievable hockey all season. I'm lucky to be behind them.
"I didn't know [about Sneep's injury] until we got in the locker room [after the first period]. Throughout the year, our defensemen have been playing with different people. So it was pretty easy for them to adjust."
And, the entire time, they had a familiar face and voice behind them, even if he wasn't on the ice.
Said Sneep, "I just tried to be supportive and cheer them on."
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