In the 1999-2000 season, Boston College was coming off back-to-back Frozen Four appearances that fell short - a devastating loss in the 1998 national championship game to Michigan at the FleetCenter, and an OT loss to Maine in the national semifinal in 1999. BC came back with yet another strong roster, hoping to break what was at that point a 51-year streak without a national title.
BC amassed a 26-11-1 record that season and entered the tournament - which was then a 12-team affair, with two 6-team regionals - as a #4 seed in the West. However, they were without hardware on the season, after being tripped up by BU in the Beanpot final and Maine (in OT) in the Hockey East championship game. It would have to be national title or bust for the Eagles that season.
BC drew a tough assignment in the first round of the West Regional in Minneapolis - the Michigan State Spartans. Sparty rode in red hot as CCHA tournament champions - but perhaps more importantly, had one of the greatest college goaltenders of all time between the pipes in Ryan Miller. Yes, that Ryan Miller - long before he was leading the US national team in the Olympics, or getting run over to set off a long sequence of events that ultimately led to Buffalo getting Jack Eichel (Milan Lucic says you're welcome, Sabres), he was setting records at the collegiate level. Michigan State had easily dispatched BC over winter break at the Great Lakes Invitational, so this was a difficult draw for the Eagles.
If you had told any BC fan going in to that tournament game that the Scott Clemmensen would give up 5 goals to the Spartans, few would have thought BC would have had a chance of beating Miller, who posted a 1.53 goals against average in his freshman season. But they did just that, coming back from four separate deficits to beat Michigan State and advance to the West Regional final against Wisconsin.
BC fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but notched a pair of power play goals by Jeff Farkas and Brian Gionta early in the second to tie it up. The score was 3-3 entering the third period when John-Michael Liles scored to retake the lead for Michigan State, but BC again fought back on a goal by Kevin Caulfield to make it 4-4 with just under ten minutes to play.
Then, things got really nutty. Rustyn Dolyny scored on a power play for Michigan St. with under 7 minutes to play to put the Spartans back out front, and the Eagles seemed destined to crash out of the tournament despite pumping shot after shot on Miller's net (BC outshot the Spartans 42-22 for the game). In the final minute of play with the goalie pulled, Mike Lephart scored to bring BC even, setting up overtime. Jeff Farkas was the hero in OT, scoring from Brian Gionta and Mike Mottau at 11:53 to give BC the win.
Unfortunately, more disappointment was in the cards for BC to end the 2000 season, as North Dakota upended them in the national championship game in Providence, giving BC two national title game losses in three years in their own backyard. Thankfully, BC would have a chance to exorcise demons against that same North Dakota program one year later. Something tells me that game will be the subject of a future reminiscence.