March 26, 2012 PRINT Bookmark and Share

A Senior Moment

BC's Seniors Position Club for 5th National Championship

by Jill Saftel/CHN Reporter

WORCESTER, Mass. — Two years ago, four Boston College seniors went out the way every college hockey player hopes to — with a national championship. The Eagles defeated Wisconsin, 5-0, at Ford Field in Detroit to earn the program's fourth national championship.

Now this year’s class of six Eagle seniors is headed to Tampa, Fla., with the rest of the Eagles to compete in the Frozen Four for the second time in their careers with the goal of repeating what their predecessors achieved in their final season.

To do that, they'll first need to face a Minnesota team that boasts the nation's No. 1 team offense. But this group is no stranger to difficult matchups, and they've proven in their four years that they have what it takes to compete.

In terms of career success, the 2012 class of seniors has much the hope to accomplish including three consecutive Hockey East Tournament titles, two conference regular season championships, three Beanpot wins and one national championship.

But with the next week comes the six seniors' last chance to define their legacy within a program defined by consistent success, something last year's seniors fell short on when they lost to Colorado College in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. BC coach Jerry York said that loss was a disappointment for the 2011 senior class of Brian Gibbons, John Muse and Joe Whitney, who saw national titles in 2008 and 2010; a feeling that this year's seniors won't have to deal with if things go York's way.

Captain Tommy Cross, Paul Carey, Edwin Shea, Barry Almeida, Chris Venti and Tommy Atkinson are the six seniors hoping they don't fly back to Boston with the same feeling as 2011's seniors.

"The senior group last year was such a special group for us. There were only three players, Johnny (Muse), Brian (Gibbons) and Joe (Whitney), and the quest was to win three national titles in their four years," York said. "We were so geared toward that, and all of a sudden, when we lost, it was a hard, hard thing for us as a club. So, I think it motivates us to come back this year, but we're always motivated to win national titles. I can't say because we lost one year we're not going to be primed to win it the next year, but that stung a little bit on us."

With a 17-game winning streak that has extended from Jan. 21 to tonight’s Northeast Regional win over Minnesota Duluth, BC could just be primed to win. The Eagles have racked up 31 wins this season and worked to make sure they didn't allow the 2011 loss to Colorado College to weigh them down throughout the past 42 games.

"I think it started last year after we lost to Colorado College and a few weeks later we started our spring workouts and trained all through the summer and we came into this season a new team," sophomore Bill Arnold said. "We knew we had to work hard and we battled throughout the whole season, we hit a rough stretch there, but come this sort of new third of the season, we've been playing our best hockey and we just have to keep getting better every day in practice and in the weight room leading up to the Frozen Four."

With seniors who have seen every level of success in college hockey, Arnold said that the team's postseason adrenaline has been fueled by that very veteran leadership. This senior class has not only motivated the Eagles in the locker room, but given them a boost on the ice.

"Getting the first postseason win is something really special," Arnold said. "You could feel the excitement on the bench from the first shift, just our entire team rolling and to get that win is a testament to our entire senior leadership. It starts with Tommy (Cross) and goes right on down through all the classes."

Arnold scored the Eagles' second goal of the night, and while no BC senior scored tonight, they've certainly been an integral part of the team's offense this season. With 38 points including 22 goals and 16 assists, Barry Almeida leads all seniors in scoring and ranks third among all of his teammates and had a hand in getting BC on the board tonight, setting up Arnold's goal.

"The play on that goal started with Barry Almeida on the forecheck. He got in there and Stevey (Whitney) picked up the puck and set it up, made a pass to me right up front I was all alone," Arnold said of his second period goal. "When they get me the puck there I have to make sure I put it home."

Sunday, Almeida was just one example of a senior setting up the play that allowed a teammate to capitalize. This group of seniors has had the ability to see success individually, but also make plays and see opportunities that allows the Eagles to compete for the program's fifth national championship. 

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