Boston College Relishes Another Title
by Joshua Seguin/CHN Writer
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. Led by depth scoring and goalie Parker Milner all weekend, Boston College won another title — the Hockey East regular season crown, its 12th, and second in a row.
“It was a very special night for us,” said senior captain Tommy Cross. “To win a trophy in front of your home fans is a rare opportunity, as most are played on neutral sites. This is the first time we won a trophy here.”
Winning titles is nothing new for the Eagles, of course. Earlier this season they captured the Ice Breaker and the Beanpot. Having three pieces of hardware heading into the postseason is something that few teams can say they have accomplished, but Boston College has a chance for five.
And it doesn't get old for coach Jerry York, who has four national championships to his credit, three with Boston College.
“It is always special to win trophies and we don’t hide from that fact,” said Jerry York. “We failed to win one at the Great Lakes Tournament but the Beanpot and the regular season championship ... it is something we take great pride in.”
Coming on the heels of another four-point weekend, with two victories against Vermont, Boston College secured its own destiny and prevented cross-town rival Boston University from a chance for a share of the title. This in itself had to be a moral victory.
Since being swept at Maine in mid-January, the Eagles have gone on an 11-game winning streak and hardly had a scare. They have outscored opponents nearly 4-to-1 in this span and have proven that they are one of the most balanced teams in the country.
“I definitely think that there is some confidence in our room right now,” said Cross. “I think all good teams do have confidence in that if they play well they can be successful. This year’s team is very humble. We are focused on that if we have confidence we can play well. It’s not a false confidence as we know that we have to play well to win games.”
“Our club continues to get better,” said York. “The leadership of Tommy Cross has been just outstanding. Our team has really developed into a really solid team.”
Led by the offense of Barry Almeida, who scored one of the prettiest goals a hockey fan will ever see on Friday night, and the goaltending of Parker Milner, the Eagles have shored up questions they were facing in mid-January. That team now is much different than the one that hit the ice on Saturday night to secure the title.
“Parker Milner has led us to 11 wins in a row,” said York. “We are all really excited to watch Parker develop as a goaltender. He has been instrumental in almost every win we have had.”
During November, December and the first half of January, Boston College was an inconsistent team, going 7-9-1 in that stretch. Its overall record stood at 13-10-1 late in January. That would be OK for some programs, but for Boston College it was hardly acceptable.
During those months Boston College was using three goalies and having a hard time scoring. This is not the case in the past month and a half.
The value of having huge games against your top rival is huge for a goalie, and Milner lost the job originally because of two struggles against Boston University, two games in which he allowed nine goals and 12 over three starts. These two games could have been the difference in the standings but in the end they were not.
Milner re-emerged as the No. 1 goalie again, and made the most of the chance. Since returning to the starting role against New Hampshire on Jan. 27, Milner has a 1.16 goals against average and has stopped over 95 percent of shots he has faced. These numbers have catapulted him to the top among Hockey East goaltenders and he has not been defeated since then.
With a solid goaltender Boston College was able to concentrate on other parts of their game. Offensively it has received depth scoring from all four lines.
Both nights this weekend, the fourth line scored goals. This depth bodes well going forward.
“Destry Straight has been one of our more improved players,” York said. “That line scored two goals this weekend. He has been on an up-up path these last few weeks. He will be a key player for us going down the stretch.”
Chris Kreider has led the way offensively for the Eagles but the balance up and down the lineup is what proves what they are really made of. Johnny Gaudreau has emerged as a rookie of the year candidate in Hockey East, with his 31 points, and nine players have 19 points or more.
With four lines scoring, can any team match up with them in the Hockey East tournament? In the first round of the Tournament they will face Massachusetts a team that has defeated Boston College twice this season.
“They have taken the series from us this season,” said York. “It is not going to be a typical one and eight matchup. They are playing really strong hockey and they had to battle for that eighth. They played really well against us and it’s not a fluke they took three out of four from us.”
UMass is playing well but right now Boston College can relish the fact that they have won three out four trophies this year and they can win two more, two that come with much more prestige.
“This trophy is a hard one to get because it’s the best team from October to now,” said York. “Our aspirations are to go after more trophies and we will switch gears but not right away. We need to reflect back on how difficult this one was to get. Monday we will start thinking about going after the Lamairello trophy.”