Breakdown of Championship Game
by Joe Meloni/CHN Reporter
DETROIT Scan the box scores for both of Thursday night's national semifinal games for a few minutes, and you'll swear they printed the same one for each game. Aside from the names of the players that scored and the exact times of each game, Wisconsin's 8-1 win over RIT and Boston College's 7-1 victory over Miami were pretty much the same.
One team gets on the board. A couple quick goals follow, and the opponent gets one just as it looks like all was lost. Then they lose it anyway and allow a handful more goals before the games ends in a laughably shocking decision.
The only difference, well the only major one, came in BC's win over Miami. Picking the Eagles to win was hardly an upset choice, but the Red Hawks entered the game allowing fewer than two goals per game. BC senior Ben Smith scored that many himself.
It's difficult not to pin both the Badgers and Eagles as teams that strive off their depth and timely goaltending. Neither BC netminder John Muse or Wisconsin junior Scott Gudmanson have been particularly great for their teams this season, but they have provided the calming presence teams need to makes lengthy playoff runs.
Muse appeared in a national championship game as a freshman, leading the Eagles to a 3-1 over Notre Dame in the title game in 2007-08. Despite reclaiming the No. 1 job from freshman Parker Millner after a first-round series win against Massachusetts in the Hockey East Tournament, it's unclear whether or not Muse is capable of stealing games for the Eagles.
His 31-save performance, including 13 in the third period, against Boston University in the Beanpot encouraged Eagles fans that the goaltender that won them a national championship was back, but he has allowed at least six goals in two of the last four games he has played. However, the Eagles won both of those games - 7-6 in overtime against Maine in the Hockey East Championship and 9-7 against Yale in the Northeast Regional final of the NCAA Tournament.
The offensive efficiency and versatility demonstrated by both teams on Thursday means both Gudmanson and Must need to find their best to keep the other from taking over.
"It's going to be an absolutely terrific game," New Hampshire coach Dick Umile said on Friday. "I don't know how fortunate we are, but we're one of the few teams that played them both. We played Boston College in [Hockey East]. They're two great teams. It starts from the net out. I think it's going to be a memorable college hockey game. It's going to be fun to watch.
Umile's Wildcats played both teams this season, posting a 0-3-2 record against them. In October, UNH traveled to Madison, Wis., where the Badgers defeated them 4-1 and 6-1. In three games with Boston College this season, the Wildcats were 0-1-2.
According to Umile, both team's ability to move the puck up ice and maintain possession in several different ways makes their offenses so dangerous. The Eagles roll four lines that feature highly specific talents.
Wisconsin's forward are equally dangerous, but the Badger defenseman are so poised on the puck that they effortlessly make outlet passes to start rushes for their forwards - a group that includes Hobey Baker winner Blake Geoffrion.
"They put a lot of pressure on you. The good thing is that these two teams are so familiar with the way they play because they see the level of speed in their own practices," Umile said. "I think it's going to be exciting to watch for fans."