January 7, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Heating Up

Boston College Begins Second Half in Typical Style

by Joe Meloni/CHN Reporter

John Muse is gunning for an unprecdented third national championship.

John Muse is gunning for an unprecdented third national championship.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Walking through the Boston College campus in this second week of January paints an odd picture of the scenic campus just west of Boston. Even on a Friday night when the promise of one of those perfect college weekends typically infuses the air with a palpable sense of excitement, the buildings sit dark and undisturbed.

There’s one building, though, toward the south end of the campus, already reinhabited, already one game through its second semester. Its residents, defending national champion Boston College, always enjoy these final few months of the season – when there’s more to play for than momentum.

The Eagles began the "Hockey East Men’s League" – the coaches’ nickname for the second half of the season – with a 4-1 win against Providence.

Success in the season’s most precious moments became a habit for the Eagles in the last decade. It was Brian Gionta and Krys Kolanos 10 years ago, Nathan Gerbe and Cory Schneider in 2008 and Cam Atkinson and, well, every player in an Eagles sweater last year. Three national championships and a few other runs to the Frozen Four cut just short: needless to say, the current group of Eagles understands its destination and, more importantly, the best way to get there.

Some things from last season will fall the same this time around. BC coach Jerry York points to those moments when he must; when the juniors and seniors forget what happened the last time they thought a national championship in one year meant an easy repeat. For the most part, though, he doesn’t want to hear it any more.

Whether or not the Eagles want to hear it, the second half of 2010-11 began quite similar to 2009-10. Both times around, BC hosted Providence and skated to a comfortable win. Following the win over PC last January, BC finished the season on a 19-4-1 run that ended with the 5-0 clinic against Wisconsin at Ford Field for its third national title of the decade and second in three years.

It’s the players, though, and the lineup York sends out every night representing the largest consistency from this year and last. Like their coach, the players keep quiet about last season – recycling the same cliches they learned from their skipper: paying attention to detail, having a short memory, those type of things.

“We’ve got a lot of good players. We don’t to rely on just [Brian Gibbons’] line,” York said. “We’re creating some great depth on defense and our forwards. As a team, we’re hoping to keep on getting better and better.

“Tonight was a good solid effort for us, and I think we’re starting to play well as a whole.”

Watching the Eagles win on Friday night made it very difficult to forget last season, though.

Chris Kreider, in his first game back from picking up a bronze medal in the IIHF World Junior Championships, demonstrated his remarkable hands, outmatched only by his light-switch-quick feet.

Cam Atkinson found an empty corner no one else saw in the Providence goal, and a couple players battling through the season, junior Paul Carey and freshman Bill Arnold, added tallies in the mean time.

John Muse was good, too. But you knew that already.

“Johnny Muse again is at the top of his game,” York said.

“He made a great save [on PC forward Matt Germain]. He made a great move, but John stayed with him. It was certainly one of the key parts of the game that you have to look back on.”

BC’s second semester begins on January 18. Most students at the Heights will have to wait a few weeks for their first exam. For their hockey team, it comes two weeks from Friday night and three days after the semester begins officially, when Boston University opens Agganis Arena to its arch-rivals. The Beanpot follows shortly, and another matchup with BU comes in the first round.

These games seem meaningless at times. People around the nation see the Eagles in March and April and ignore everything that came prior.

The product that averaged six goals in its four NCAA Tournament games last season, though, resulted from the astounding run the Eagles pieced together last year before they went to Worcester and on to Detroit. A run that started with a comfortable win over Providence in early January.

Sound familiar?

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