Is anyone concerned about the quality of our competition during the winning streak anymore? BC just shut down the nations 2nd most potent offense in Minnesota-Duluth and scored four of their own to defeat the Bulldogs 4-0.
There was so much to like about this game. It was an excellent all-around effort. I suppose we should just start from the beginning and just let the Awesome ooze out from the post.
Both teams came out in the third period playing very good hockey, but there was an extra little sparkle in BC's stride. It's funny, because yesterday I said that BC needed to avoid playing Minnesota-Duluth's game and play our own. What ended up happening is that we welcomed the physicality of the Bulldogs and returned it all over the ice, and used our speed to create opportunities. There were no goals scored in the opening frame, but it was a far cry from the long stretches of slow play that were the trademark of the game against Air Force.
The only concerning part about the first period was that despite playing well -- and really, outplaying the Bulldogs -- we couldn't take advantage by putting the puck in the net. It seems like every time a team controls a period but doesn't score, the other team takes the momentum in the next period and takes advantage. But into the 2nd period we would go, and fortunately, BC really came out gunning. It was much more BC's period, despite the pretty even shot totals. Our quick-strike ability resulted in two quick goals early on. Gaudreau made a play behind the net and threw it out front (sound familiar?) where Pat Mullane was able to win the ensuing mini-scrum and score.
The second goal, just a minute and a half later, was a thing of beauty. Steve Whitney stole the puck from the UMD player behind the net, showed tremendous patience in waiting for a player to show up in the slot, threw the puck out front from behind the net (sound familiar?) and Bill Arnold completed the back end of the alley-oop with an emphatic slam. That's how the score would remain going into the locker room.
To the third we went, and before either team could really establish their identity for the period, BC scored a fluky goal when Patrick Wey just flipped the puck toward the net about 8 feet in the air on what was really more of a dump-in, and it squeaked by Reiter to give the Eagles a 3 goal lead.
The Eagles had to show off their penalty kill a little more than I'm sure we would have liked a few minutes later, as Patch Alber and Patrick Wey were sent to the gate just about 1:20 apart to give UMD a reasonably long 5 on 3. Then, 10 seconds after BC took care of the penalty kill, Wey was called for another penalty to extend the torture another two minutes.
Johnny Gaudreau put the exclamation point on this one about halfway through the third with a power play goal on a breakaway with a filthy move. The kid's got moves like Jagr. From there, the party was on.
Parker Milner was ridiculous. Again. His third period was just eye-popping. UMD put 18 shots on net, a good chunk of which coming on the five straight minutes of power play, and more than a few of them were excellent scoring chances. Then, later, while the game was pretty well in hand, he stoned UMD on a breakaway and managed to get a piece of the puck and just deflect it high as he was falling backward.
The defense was sparkling. Yes, Parker had to make some impossible saves in the third period, but it was when UMD started taking more chances and playing more desperate. The stickwork by our defense is astounding. I've lost track of how many times we broke up an odd man rush before it got to be too threatening with a well-placed stick to break up a pass. And the body position by our defenders, that's what I really feel has been our strength. Opposing forwards can't get across the blue line without a BC d-man grinding all up on them making them uncomfortable and either slowing up enough to allow the cavalry to join in and help defend the rush, losing the puck all together, or forcing them to make a pass earlier than they want to and neutralizing the threat.
Defense wins championships. And this choking, smothering defense by BC since the start of the streak is the best I have ever personally seen at the collegiate level. There's not much more to say.
So now, BC advanced to Tampa and the Frozen Four! We'll face off against the real University of Minnesota and the Golden Gophers on Thursday, April 5th at 8pm on ESPN2. BC's relationship with Minnesota, at least from many fans' perspectives, is a lot like our relationship with Clemson in football, but with fewer games. Minnesota is the BC of the west -- an excellent history, an us-against-the-world mentality (everyone hates them out there just like everyone hates us out here), and of course, the maroon and gold. When we faced off against the Gophers in 2008, the USCHO message boards were filled with a Gopher/Eagle love fest. We just have tons of respect for the Minnesota program, their history, and their awesome fans.
We'll have tons of coverage in the upcoming two weeks, of course, so make sure you check in once in a while.
Highlights from tonight's epicness: