April 11, 2008 PRINT Bookmark and Share

One More Flight: Eagles Confident Going Into Championship Game

by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer

DENVER — In the 2006 title game, Boston College led Wisconsin 1-0 before the Badgers stormed back and scored the game winner in the third period. In the 2007 championship tilt in St. Louis, BC led Michigan State 1-0 before the Spartans also rallied, scoring a memorable game winner with 18 seconds left in regulation.

Forty-three games and one arduous year later, Boston College will skate into Denver's Pepsi Center on Saturday night to try again, searching for its third national championship and first since 2001. If the Eagles lose, however, they will become the first team ever to lose three consecutive NCAA title games.

Seventy percent of the BC team has played in a national championship game. But zero percent know what it feels like to raise the NCAA trophy.

Still, the Eagles see similarities in this 2007-08 edition of the team compared to last season's squad, even if they hope the result on Saturday night is dramatically different.

"I think there are a lot of similarities," said senior forward Matt Greene after practicing on Friday. "It's not a coincidence [that we are in the title game again]."

Added BC coach Jerry York, who is going for career coaching win No. 803 against Notre Dame Saturday, "Goaltending may be a little different because we have a freshman goaltender [John Muse], but I see a lot of similarities."

And just what are those similarities?

This year's team, much like last year's, skates into the title game with a winning streak of at least eight games. Both defeated Miami in an NCAA Regional final, before then winning a Frozen Four semifinal showdown with WCHA foe North Dakota. Both teams feature a goaltender who played over 2,500 minutes.

And the leading goal scorer for last year's team is the same as this year's — Hobey finalist Nathan Gerbe, who lit up North Dakota with three goals on Thursday.

Now, Gerbe looks to avoid a hat trick of another kind — going 0-for-3 in college hockey's final game of the season.

Said Gerbe of his drive and motivation, "The one thing my dad always told me was that if I'm going to spend the time and the money to take you to hockey, then you better put in 110 percent effort into it."

And maybe 110 percent effort will be just what's needed for the Eagles to final get over the title game hump. BC is just 2-6 all time in NCAA championship games.

Perhaps this will finally be the year — following a season that was as up-and-down a season as one could imagine.

Explained York, "We had a veteran goaltender [Cory Schneider] coming back, an outstanding All-American type forward in Brock Bradford, a returning defenseman in Brett Motherwell. We thought for sure this would be a team that could challenge again. The surprise I had was losing all three of those players, watching our team develop in skill level, team level improvement.

"As the season progressed, I could see a little more that we could do it this year."

On Saturday, BC and Notre Dame will face off for the 27th time, with the Eagles leading the all-time series 14-10-2. This is the first-ever meeting between the teams in the NCAA tournament and is the first since Notre Dame skated into BC's Conte Form in October, 2006, and thrashed the Eagles 7-1.

Of course, history will mean nothing on Saturday. It's just one game. With the national championship on the line.

"Our goal is to win hockey games and win championships," said senior captain Mike Brennan. "Of course it would be great to go through a season without ups and downs, but that's not realistic. You have to deal with them as they come.

"The biggest thing we want to do is not fold over."

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