Inside the Matchup, BU vs. Miami
by Dane DeKrey/Staff Writer
WASHINGTON, D.C. It’s official – Matt Gilroy is the 2009 Hobey Baker Award winner. And as great an individual award it may be for Gilroy, whose feel-good walk-on story is a tale even Jeremy Schaap would fawn over, the reality is the award will have no bearing on the outcome of Saturday night’s NCAA championship game.
Here's what will matter:
Statistically speaking, there is no question Boston University packs far more of an offensive punch than does Miami, as its four top scorers — Colin Wilson, Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins, and Brandon Yip — all have scored more points this season than Miami’s leading scorer, Carter Camper. But statistics hardly matter in the national championship game; in fact, many consider them irrelevant. What does matter is top-to-bottom talent, from the first line to the fourth, and the edge in depth, and therefore overall offense, is Boston University. Led by sophomore sensation Colin Wilson, the Terriers possess multiple scoring threats, as has been evident all season long. Look for Wilson and company to be at their best on Saturday night, because when they are, few, if any, can stop them. EDGE: BOSTON UNIVERSITY.
Anchored by Hobey Baker finalist and team captain Matt Gilroy, there’s little debate that Boston University’s defense is tops in the country. Jack Parker calls it perhaps the best six-man defensive corps he's ever had. But the edge is total team defense, by a hair, goes to Miami, when factoring in the penalty killing and backchecking prowess of the RedHawks. Need proof? Look no further than the team’s near-flawless performance against Bemidji State on Thursday night. The RedHawks established its physical dominance early and often as the Beavers, who scored had scored nine goals in its previous two games against Notre Dame and Cornell, widely considered the nation’s two top defensive schools, were held to just one goal against Miami. EDGE: MIAMI.
The toss-up category. The reason: age. Both Boston University and Miami have placed their fate in the hands of freshman goaltenders. For BU, the hands belong to Kieran Millan, and for Miami, Cody Reichard. While Reichard looked much sharper on Thursday night than Millan, there is really no way to know what each might put forth in tomorrow’s championship game. Playing in a national championship is hard enough mentally for any players, but for a freshman, and a goaltender no less, the pressure is exacerbated. For this reason, and this reason only, no team will have an edge on Saturday night. EDGE: TIE.
This is the only no-brainer pick of the night. As great as Miami’s Enrico Blasi has been during his tenure with Miami, there is no second guessing a coaching legend like Boston University’s Jack Parker. Parker has been at the helm of BU’s program for 36 years — 36 years. To put in that in perspective, that is almost as long as Blasi, 37 years old, has been alive. Regardless if Blasi’s pedigree includes a stint under two-time champion, George Gwozdecky, Parker and his literally decades of experience trumps all. EDGE: BOSTON UNIVERSITY.
Pick your storyline. Boston University comes in a heavy favorite, which itself is a double-edged sword; they either win it, as everyone expects, or they lose it, as everyone but them secretly hopes. Meanwhile, Miami finds itself in a position many believe it should have been long ago, on center stage and in the national championship game. While Miami is probably the "underdog," that sort of rhetoric rings hollow in the current one-game championship format. In short, any team can beat any other team on any given night: for further reading, see Holy Cross. The reality is that both teams are equally equipped and equally prepared to win Saturday night. Boston University is anchored by its legendary coach in Parker, its Hobey Baker winner in Gilroy, and its future NHL all-star in Wilson. Miami, in contrast, will find its success in a total team effort, relying on no single player, but instead all 18 skaters. It is a classic example of six of one and half a dozen of the other. EDGE: TIE.
OVERALL EDGE: BOSTON UNIVERISTY