Opportunity Knocks, Eagles Answer
Gophers Miss Chances in National Semifinal
by Mike Machnik/CHN Senior Editor
TAMPA, Fla. If you just look at the score — Boston College 6, Minnesota 1 — you'd think this was a lopsided game, where the Eagles skated circles around the Gophers from start to finish.
For much of the night, however, that wasn't the case.
Minnesota's first period might have been one of the best any team has played against the top-ranked Eagles all season. Even into the second, the Gophers continued to play their game and throw what they could at the Eagles.
But the difference was as simple as the Gophers had their chances and were stymied by BC and goaltender Parker Milner. When BC got its chances, the Eagles made the most of them.
Just six minutes in, after defenseman Brian Dumoulin broke up a pass by Minnesota's Kyle Rau intended for Nick Bjugstad, BC came back down and scored on a feed from Barry Almeida to Steven Whitney.
Milner made a terrific pad save off of Taylor Matson in the final minute of the period, ensuring BC would hold a 1-0 lead after one.
"I think it's our attention to detail, and we really focus on puck management," said Paul Carey, who scored twice in the win. "And the few chances that we do give up, [Milner]'s there to help us out back there.
"Our transition game is really good right now, and we did a great job of getting it up the ice and taking advantage of those chances."
"(Our forwards') transition game is impressive," said BC defenseman Tommy Cross. "They get the puck, and they go. And we really work on limiting the other team's chances and not making, not turning it into a turnover game."
The Gophers kept attacking into the second but a second power play went by the boards, and when BC finally got its first man advantage of the game, it only took eight seconds for Kevin Hayes to make it 2-0.
Then, late in the period, after Milner robbed Jake Hansen on the doorstep with 2:33 to play, the Eagles took the ensuing faceoff and went down to score on a 2-on-1, Destry Straight feeding Chris Kreider. And in the final minute of the period, Johnny Gaudreau was stopped by Kent Patterson but seconds later found Carey for a goal into an open net.
BC had been outshot in both periods and 21-15 overall, but led 4-0 after two.
"I thought that when we did have a chance, especially in the second period, we were very opportunistic — we have a scoring chance, whether it was a 2-on-1 or power play, we really took advantage of that situation," said Eagle head coach Jerry York.
"It wears you down, because we felt we were playing all right," said Hansen. "But when you give a team like BC with such a hot offense 2-on-1s and open nets, eventually it's going to break you down mentally."
"They have the ability to, when you make a mistake, to convert on their chances, and they're a very good transition team," said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. "They do a great job applying back pressure coming up the rink. You have to play a real fast game."
"We just needed one to go in. And that just didn't happen. And they just clearly took advantage of their opportunities," said Hansen.
"That's hockey," said York. "You're going to have a chance. It's like football. A guy's going for a touchdown pass and you intercept it, and now you've got a runback and you have a chance.
"So I think there's ebbs and flows in the game. I never visualized us playing at this level, in the Frozen Four, where we're going to have all the chances and the other team's not going to have any chances," said York.
"We can make plays. We move pucks, we're a creative team. It bodes well. If you've got a 2-on-1, we've got a good chance we're going to score a goal."