Top-Ranked BU Avoids No. 1 Seed Pitfall
by Scott McLaughlin/CHN Reporter
MANCHESTER, N.H. Unlike every other No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, the Boston University Terriers came flying out of the gates with the tenacity and dominance you would expect from an elite team.
“It definitely hit home yesterday when we were watching those games,” senior co-captain Matt Gilroy said. “A No. 1 goes, and then another team goes. And we just had to refocus, and we came to the rink focused. ... The guys came ready to play today and it was a lot of fun.”
Michigan lost to Air Force, Denver lost to Miami, and that was just Friday. Saturday, as BU was playing, Notre Dame — many people's pick to meet BU in the championship game — was getting taken to the cleaners by 16 seed Bemidji State.
But the Terriers would have none of it. They were not about to join that crazy party.
At the 8:40 mark of the first period, Buckeye senior Nick Biondo went to the sin bin for a hitting from behind penalty. It took the best power play in the nation just nine seconds to make Ohio State pay. Sophomore Nick Bonino won the draw back to Gilroy, and he slid it over to senior Brandon Yip at the left point as Bonino cut across the slot into the right faceoff circle. Yip saucered a pass over to Bonino, and the Unionville, Conn. native roofed it under the crossbar to get the ball rolling for the Terriers.
“I just filled the open ice, and Yip made a great pass across the ice,” Bonino said. “And I think the goalie was kind of expecting me to pass it to Johnny [McCarthy] and he left a little room up top, and I squeezed it in there.”
Forty-five seconds later, BU struck again. Bonino picked senior Corey Elkins’ pocket and raced past two Buckeye defenders to create a 2-on-1 situation with senior Jason Lawrence. Bonino drew the defender to his side of the ice and then centered a pass for Lawrence. The Terriers’ leading goal-scorer squeaked a backhander through Carlson’s five-hole for his 22nd marker of the season.
Less than four minutes later, the Terriers found themselves with a commanding 3-0 lead after junior Zach Cohen took a pass in the right faceoff circle, glided toward the slot and lasered a shot into the top right corner.
BU would go on to score the first three goals of the second period, as well, on tallies from freshman Corey Trivino, Yip and Lawrence.
“I thought the puck obviously jumped in the net for us tonight,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “The game was over pretty quickly . . . I thought we were very, very solid for most of the game. Once we got to six goals, we started to get a little un-thorough with the puck. But in general, I thought we played a pretty good game. I think that we made some nice plays. We got to the net. And it just happened to jump in tonight.”
Although the Terriers did let off the gas toward the end of the second, allowing two goals in the final five minutes of the stanza, they were so far ahead of Ohio State that the Buckeyes couldn’t even sniff BU’s exhaust fumes anymore, and the Terriers cruised to the finish line with an 8-3 victory.
On Sunday night, the Terriers will look to avoid the same fate they suffered the last time they smoked a CCHA team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as the top-ranked team in the nation. After entering the 2006 tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and downing Nebraska-Omaha, 9-2, in the opening round, BU succumbed to archrival Boston College in the regional final in a demoralizing 5-0 loss.
“Nebraska-Omaha – we won that game pretty easily, too,” Parker said. “And then we played BC, who we had beaten four straight times. And now we’re playing UNH, who we’ve beaten the last two times we’ve played them. So, it’s a very, very similar situation. Henry Ford once said, ‘Experience is one of the things of greatest value in life.’ Well, some of our guys have that experience, and the rest of them know about it – that BU had that struggle.”