Semifinal Notebook: Union-Boston College
by Avash Kalra/Senior Writer
PHILADELPHIA Union topped Boston College, 5-4, in Thursday’s first national semifinal, and as a result, the Dutchmen will play in their first-ever NCAA championship game – and the first NCAA title game of any kind for the school since 1929 (men’s lacrosse).
Union will play in Saturday’s national championship game (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) against either North Dakota or Minnesota.
Last of thje Line
For Boston College fans, Thursday marked the final time the line of Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, and Kevin Hayes will play together – at least at the college level. That line, of course, scored 192 points during the season. Arnold and Hayes, both seniors, will graduate, while presumptive Hobey Baker Award winner Johnny Gaudreau will decide between signing an NHL deal or returning for his senior year.
Afterwards, Gaudreau was emotional, in tears at the post-game press conference.
“We didn’t get enough shots through to he net,” said the nation’s leading scorer. “We didn’t do what we were told to do on the power play. We needed to get more sots through.”
Gaudreau scored the game’s first goal, just 128 seconds into the national semifinal. It was the 19th time this season that Gaudreau had tallied a goal or an assist on the opening goal of a game. In the previous 18 occasions, Boston College was undefeated (17-0-1).
“We had to respect the line,” said Union’s Daniel Ciampini, who scored a hat trick in the semifinal. “They’re a great line. It’s hard to keep them off the scoresheet. But at the same time, we couldn’t sit back. We had to continue to push the pace.”
Clearly, Union was prepared for Boston College’s top line. But Union head coach Rick Bennett, now 18-2 in postseason play and 6-2 in NCAA tournament games, did his best to minimize the hype of the line within his locker room before Thurday’s game.
“We called them by their numbers,” said the national Coach of the Year. “Never by their names. “
Union trailed after the first period on Thursday. Fortunately for the Dutchmen, they’ve thrived in the second period all season.
Union has now outscored opponents 57-26 in the second period during its 2013-14 season. The plus-31 goal differential compares to plus-13 in the first period.
On Thursday, Union outscored Boston College 2-1 in the second, en route to its 31st win of the season.
Said Matt Bodie of not allowing BC’s first goal to change his team’s mindset, “It’s just one shift at a time. Other teams are going to score goals on you. That’s how hockey guys – just the mindset guys have going in, bounce back. We’ve done a great job scoring quick goals after other teams score.”
Eagles' Missed Chance
Boston College had an opportunity to tie the game in the third period. With Union leading 3-2, the Eagles were awarded a five-minute major power play after a checking from behind infraction by Union senior Matt Hatch.
BC tried to score, to no avail – thwarted time and again by an inspired penalty killing effort by Union.
“I loved how we competed, how we battled, all the way down to the last second of the hockey game,” said Boston College head coach Jerry York. “There was never any give up with us.
“I thought on the power play, we were [over passing]. During that 5-minute major, a little bit out of sync, we were passing the pucks a little bit too slowly, not quick enough, and then it’s easier for the lanes to be blocked.”
Added an emotional Johnny Gaudreau, “We didn’t get enough shots through to he net. We didn’t do what we were told to do on the power play. We needed to get more sots through.”
“I thought there was plenty of time left in the zone. Clearly, there was, because we got back to within one goal. Really thought we had a chance to tie it up there in the fleeting moments of the hockey game. The game’s never over.” – BC head coach Jerry York, on his team’s never-say-die attitude in the third period.
“They’re a great shot blocking team. I was in the net front, and I couldn’t even see the puck because they had two or three guys in the lanes every time.” – BC captain Patrick Brown.
“Tonight was one of those nights where I don’t know if we had a top line. Some of guys on our top line, if you ask them, probably didn’t have their best games, and that’s probably a good sign for us going into Saturday night – at least I hope. I’ll knock on wood on that one.” – Union head coach Rick Bennett
“I’ve never really seen a team battle to the end like they have, being down twice in the last four or five minutes there.” – Matt Bodie, of Boston College’s third period.
“He never seems to say too much in between periods. He does know the right things to say. He knows how to get us going. But he’s never a man of too many words between periods. I think today he just came in and pointed out a couple things we could do better, and that seemed to work in the second period.” – Union goaltender Colin Stevens, the ECAC Goaltender of the Year who holds the school record for wins (27) and shutouts (6).