Sunday, April 08, 2012

BC downs Ferris State, caps dream season with NCAA crown

by Bob Herpen

Phanatic Hockey Editor

Steven Whitney tallied twice and Parker Milner stopped 27 shots as Boston College downed Ferris State, 4-1, in the NCAA men's ice hockey championship game on Saturday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"We've always tried to have excellent defensemen, and our forwards have been very explosive, but they all share great team bonding," said BC head coach Jerry York, whose senior class finished their careers an impressive 22-2 in the postseason.

Paul Carey and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for the Eagles (33-10-1), who claimed their fourth national crown in the last 12 seasons by winning their 19th straight game.

The streak began following back-to-back losses at Maine on January 20-21 and grew to be the longest in the country. Only Cornell, which took all 29 of its games in 1969-70, won more in a row to cap a title season.

Milner earned most outstanding player honors by only giving up two goals in four tournament games as BC took home its fifth championship in program history. The Eagles turned in a rare quintuple triumph, taking the preseason Icebreaker Tournament, the Beanpot, the Hockey East regular-season and playoff titles as well as the national championship.

"It's incredible. It's everything you dream about," said the junior netminder.

Garrett Thompson notched the lone goal for the Bulldogs (26-12-5), who were bidding for the school's first ever Division I title in any sport.

Taylor Nelson was dented three times on 33 shots for the loss, FSU's first since suffering CCHA quarterfinal defeats to Western Michigan.

"This team has really blazed a trail," said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels, who nonetheless took home national coach of the year honors after battling atop the national rankings with BC during the middle part of the season. "This team broke some new ground for us and this senior class will leave with three straight winning years and three really great seasons. I think it will give us confidence moving forward that we can be successful on a national stage and with that hopefully we'll continue to grow."

Both goaltenders were on their game as time ticked away in a one-goal contest.

Milner dove from right to left across his crease to deny Travis Ouellette's one-timer with 7:07 left in regulation, and Nelson flashed his right pad to deny Chris Kreider less than two minutes later.

Gaudreau then salted away the title with 3:02 on the clock, beating a defender with several stick moves and lifting a backhander under the crossbar.

"I just went with it, and luckily it happened to work for me, and luckily it went in," said the freshman winger and Flames draft pick.

Nelson was pulled for an extra skater 1:28 remaining and Whitney hit the empty net to clinch it.

"I think it's the quality of kids that we have in our program," said senior captain and defenseman Tommy Cross, who leaves The Heights as one of six players to win it all twice in the last three years. "There's a huge trickle down effect here. It's 25 brothers."

Whitney opened the scoring just 3:18 after the opening faceoff. A Ferris State turnover deep in its own endended up on the stick of BC's Barry Almeida on the right wing, and he dished across the crease for an easy tap-in.

The Bulldogs equalized at 5:19 when Thompson followed up an Andy Huff shot and scored inside the right post.

BC moved ahead on a power play with 9:27 to go in the opening period, when Brian Dumoulin's left-point floater changed direction off the edge of the blade of Carey's stick in the slot. A brief review revealed the stick was well within the legal height.

Milner stayed in position to stone Kyle Bonis on a breakaway with 5:22 remaining, then made a pad save on his belly to deny Huff at the right post in the final seconds of the first.

Bonis was hooked on a breakaway just after the midway portion of the second, and on the ensuing advantage, Nelson turned away an Almeida shot off a 2-on-1.

"What a year," said Nelson. "I'm extremely proud of every individual in that locker room. All season long, we sacrificed for one another and bled for one another. And, as far as what it means to the program, I think in our minds, it made history."

Notes: BC ended the year 25-0-1 when leading after two periods...Cornell had future Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Ken Dryden in goal in that perfect season...RPI finished the 1984-85 campaign 32-0-1 in its final 33 games en route to the crown, with the tie part of a two-game opening-round series where the winner advanced on total number of goals...York won his fifth career national title (four with BC, one with Bowling Green)...The Eagles' only two playoff losses in four years came in the 2009 Hockey East semifinals to eventual champion Boston University and to Colorado College in last year's first round...FSU defenseman Scott Czarnowczan left the game in the second period with a knee injury and did not return...Four of the last five NCAA titles have been won by Boston-area schools with BC winning three times (2008, 2010, 2012) and Boston University in 2009...Attendance was 18,818.

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