Union Defeats BC, Will Play For First National Title
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
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PHILADELPHIA Union College will play for its first national championship on Saturday night after defeating Boston College, 5-4, in the national semifinals on Thursday.
This is the second straight season the Dutchmen have eliminated BC, knocking the Eagles out in the opening round of the East Regional last season.
BC also becomes the third Hockey East team Union eliminates from the tournament, having beaten both Vermont and Providence in this year’s East Regional en route to the Frozen Four.
Boston College took the league just 2:08 into the first period when, in a bit of a role reversal, Kevin Hayes provided the flash, taking a pass from Bill Arnold at the blue line and dancing with the puck around Jeff Taylor and Mike Vecchione to put a shot on goal, where Johnny Gaudreau was provided with an easy tip-in goal to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles took that lead into the first intermission, but it didn’t last long. Just 2:39 into the second period, Matt Bodie found the puck at the top of the right circle and faked a shot, which sent BC forward Matt Gaudreau sliding out to the blue line in an attempt to block it. Bodie calmly stepped around him and blasted a slap shot that appeared to re-direct off a BC defender in front and found its way past Thatcher Demko.
Midway through the second period Demko appeared to have aggravated a lower-body injury after a scrum in front of his crease but he remained in the game after some laboring.
Just over a minute later, Daniel Carr won an offensive-zone faceoff to the right point where Shayne Gostisbehere took a high shot that Demko knocked down with his glove, but right on the stick of Daniel Ciampini who was on the doorstep and easily tapped it in to give the Dutchmen their first lead of the game.
"I got very, very lucky tonight," Ciampini said. "And I thank my linemates and Shayne for blasting my stick away there. It broke on the tip."
But like the first, the second period would once again end tied. With 4:07 remaining in the second, Chris Calnan entered the offensive zone for the Eagles and curled to middle ice above the face-off circles, sliding the puck to defenseman Steve Santini who snapped a wrist shot past Colin Stevens right face-off dot.
Union took the lead back 6:31 into the third period. On the power play, Vecchione received a pass out of the corner and fed Gostisbehere for a one-timer that Ciampini was in perfect position to tip past Demko.
Boston College would have its best chance to climb back into the game a mere 18 seconds later, when Union defenseman Matt Hatch was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting Michael Sit from behind.
But the Union penalty kill was outstanding, only tasking Stevens with making three saves in the five minutes.
"We didn't get enough shots through to the net," Gaudreau said. "We didn't do what we were told to do on the power play."
Added Arnold, "We were out of sync. Not everyone was on the same page and we were trying to force it. You can't do that against a good PK like Union's."
Just as the penalty expired, Kevin Sullivan took the puck off Santini’s stick in the slot but Demko made a terrific pad save. Sullivan kept the puck in his control and knocked a backhand pass to Vecchione who was flying into the slot and the freshman was able to hammer it into the gaping net to give the Dutchmen a two-goal lead with just 8:07 remaining.
“I’m just trying to follow up the play because you never know what’s going to happen," Vecchione said. "Kevin Sullivan picked him, went on a breakaway and both their D went after him. He tried to stuff it between the pad and the post but he got stopped. Kevin flipped it back out to me and both their D were on him, so I had a wide open net to bury it. I can’t explain the feeling of scoring that goal and going up by two at that point of the game.”
The Eagles began to chip away with 1:45 left in the third period and their net empty. Michael Matheson took a shot from the point that sat under a scrum where Ryan Fitzgerald was able to jam it under Stevens.
But it was too little, too late.
With 36 seconds remaining, Ciampini beat out an icing and scored an empty-net goal to ice the game, and finish the hat trick.
Patrick Brown was able to sneak a shot past Stevens with 3.2 seconds remaining, but it was once again, too little, too late.
"We're disappointed that we're not playing for a national championship," BC head coach Jerry York said. "Sometimes it just doesn't work."
Union will play the winner of tonight’s second semifinal game between Minnesota and North Dakota in Saturday’s national championship game.