For the third straight year and the 11th time overall, the Boston College Eagles won the Hockey East tournament championship by way of a 4-1 victory over the Maine Black Bears. The Eagles, led by Johnny G, put forth their best effort since the Beanpot in the victory over the Spencer Abbott less Black Bears. A lot of people like to talk about Maine's big line being the best in the country but from what I have seen, no one has been able to match the offensive domination of Johnny Gaudreau-Pat Mullane-Paul Carey over the course of the past month and a half. I thought Maine got off to a pretty good start as they seemed to be shooting the puck from every place possible but Parker Milner, like he always seems to do, stood tall and denied the Black Bears of any goals. Once the Eagles settled down, they really started to fly for the final fifteen minutes of the first period. BC finally struck gold about six minutes into the game when Patch Alber shot the puck on Maine goalie Dan Sullivan who actually made the initial stop but the puck bounced right onto the stick of Johnny G who banged it home to make it 1-0 Eagles. Just three minutes after that goal, Black Bear forward Joey Diamond took a really bad interference call which gave the Eagles a great chance to create a nice two goal cushion for themselves. Just nine seconds into the power play, Gaudreau once again put home a rebound off a Chris Kreider shot from the point to make it 2-0 Eagles.
Maine once again came out hard in the second and were rewarded with an early period goal by star forward Brian Flynn who took a pass from linemate Joey Diamond and backhanded one over the right shoulder of Parker Milner. Once Flynn scored, the Eagles seemed to responded pretty well as I thought BC's transition game was even better than it normally is. I thought both teams did a great job of generating odd man rushes and getting good chances but Sullivan and Milner both made some great stops. As the period was coming to a close and it appeared it would be a one goal game heading into the third, Johnny Gaudreau made one of the best plays all season when he made a beautiful dish to Pat Mullane who fired one past Sullivan to give the Eagles a two goal lead. I don't think one can really express how big of a goal that was because Maine could definitely come back from a one goal deficit vs BC but now down two goals and being without Abbott, the Black Bears had a steep mountain to climb.
I thought the third period was by far and away one of BC's most defensively sound periods of the year. The Black Bears played their big line almost every other shift to try to generate some chances but guys like Tommy Cross, Pat Wey, and Brian Dumoulin did a great job of keeping the Bears from getting "Grade A" chances. In the end however, the biggest reason BC won this game was because of it's penalty kill. I think coach Mike Cavanaugh (who runs the PK) deserves a boatload of credit for drawing up a battle plan that seemed to stump the high powered Maine power play. Yes, the Bears didn't have Abbott but they still have a fantastic power play regardless of whether Abbott is in or out, so kudos to Coach Cav and the BC penalty killers for keeping that power play at bay. In the end, winning a Hockey East championship is great and all but here at BC, the biggest reward is not winning the Beanpot, not winning the Hockey East regular season title, not winning the Hockey East tournament championship, but winning the National Championship.
Why BC Won
1. The penalty kill was GREAT. The reason Maine beat Parker and BU last night was because the Terriers couldn't get a kill. The reason Maine lost tonight is because BC's PK stumped Maine every time they were out there.
2. Johnny Gaudreau is just amazing. Almeida and Dumoulin are very good players but in my opinion, Johnny Gaudreau is the best player on this team. The talent and skill he has is something I personally have never seen out of a college hockey player (Besides Gerbe).
3. Limiting Maine's chances. One thing Maine did very well vs BU last night was getting bodies in front of the net which allowed them to screen Millan and get goals. Tonight, the BC defense did a great job of keeping the Black Bears away from Milner and limiting the Maine shots to the outside.
1. We won a trophy, no problems with that.
1. Johnny G is the 7th freshman ever to win tournament MVP
2. BC now has a 5-2 lead over Maine in all time matchups in the Hockey East championship game.
3. BC is the first team to win 3 straight championships and now have the most consecutive wins ever in tournament play with 12.
4. BC will most likely play Air Force in the first round of the NCAA's next week in Worcester.
Player of the game- Come on, Johnny G !
Until Next Time,