April 12, 2009 PRINT Bookmark and Share

The Kill That Died

After Perfect PK Night, Extra Attacker Goals Doom Miami

by Dane DeKrey/Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The irony is crushing.

There was 18 minutes of power play time in Saturday night’s championship game between Boston University and Miami, with no goals scored by either team; yet the final two goals of regulation were scored with an extra attacker on the ice for BU.

How could this be?

The answer is the coaching decision of BU’s Jack Parker. With 3 minutes, 21 seconds left in the third period and his team two goals down to Miami, Parker pulled freshman goaltender Kieran Millan and sent an extra attacker onto the ice. It was a Hail Mary, nothing-to-lose, Dean Blais-circa-2001 gamble by one of college hockey’s all-time coaching legends.

The gamble paid off.

BU scored two goals in the final minute of regulation to pull even with Miami and send the game into overtime, a game the Terriers eventually won.

“I’ve never used Zach Cohen 6-on-5 before,” said Parker, after the game. “I put him out there because of his size and effort and how well he was playing tonight, and he goes out and gets the goal to get us back in it.”

Moreover, the two 6-on-5 “power-play” goals by BU magnified the game’s most glaring disparity: Miami’s lack of production on the traditional power play versus BU’s success with the extra attacker.

“I think it’s a little bit different,” said Miami captain Brian Kaufman, of 6-on-5 versus 5-on-4 play. “At that point in the game, it’s a little bit of a scramble. Coach [Blasi] was saying there are no rules, do whatever you can to keep the puck out of the net, but obviously that didn’t work out for us two times in a row.”

The reason it didn’t work out for Miami in the final minute of regulation was as much a product of its lack of execution as it was a product of BU’s execution.”

“They ran it perfectly,” admitted Kaufman. “The last goal was an unbelievable goal and all the credit goes to them. We worked our butts off to keep the puck out of the net and they just did a little better job.”

There was another bitter irony there. Blasi's mentor, George Gwozdecky, won his first national championship in 2004 when his team killed off a lengthy 6-on-3 advantage by Maine, with Denver ahead 1-0. It was perhaps the most exciting two minutes in the history of the NCAA championship, until tonight. But with Gwozdecky looking on, Miami couldn't pull off the same trick — that no-holds-barred approach — not even with two extra players.

It was the type of man-advantage execution on BU’s part that eluded Miami all game – sustained control of the puck in the offensive zone, a sequence of passes to create a quality scoring chance, and a player finishing the play with a goal.

Miami’s lack of production on the power play wasn’t for a lack of chances, as BU committed seven penalties in the game, including three in succession in the first period. Instead, as was the recurring theme on the night, it was the combination of lack of execution by Miami’s power play unit and execution by BU’s penalty kill unit.

“The last couple of games we’ve had our chances on the power play and we weren’t able to capitalize and you look at it now and that hurts,” said Miami’s Carter Camper. “But they [BU] have a great penalty kill. They have big defenseman with big smart sticks and anytime we had a shot or an opportunity, they collapsed and were able to block shots from getting through to the goalie.”

A telling statistic to strengthen Camper’s observation: On seven power play opportunities, Miami had only eight shots on net and just one quality scoring chance, which, fittingly, went wide of the net.

In fairness, it wasn’t Miami’s lack of effectiveness on the power play that singularly led to its demise on Saturday night, as BU earned its fifth national championship by literally pulling a rabbit out of the hat in the game’s final minute of regulation.

But there is no disputing Miami’s squandering of 14 minutes of tilted ice was a difference maker.

“I think it was a big deal,” said Kaufman, of Miami’s special teams play. “We always talk every game about special teams being a big key, and I thought our penalty kill did a very good job and that we got a lot of chances on the power play; but we didn’t execute and ultimately that’s all that matters.”

For BU, its special teams, in oddly unique fashion, did exactly what Miami hoped its special teams would do – execute and be a factor in the game.

While they may have not been the traditional power play goals that were scored by BU on Saturday night, with the national championship trophy now in the team’s possession, it makes no matter if it was 6-on-5 or 5-on-4 when the goals were scored; all that matters is that they went in.

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