WORCESTER, Mass. — Defense was the name of the game Saturday in the first Northeast Regional semifinal between Boston College and Air Force.
The Falcons held the Eagles, who have scored 62 goals in the course of their 16-game win streak, to one goal until the final 1:41. Goaltender Jason Torf made 32 saves before giving up BC’s second goal.
“That was our game plan. You don’t want to go get in a shootout with BC; that’s not going to turn out well for you,” said Air Force captain Paul Weisgarber. “We wanted to limit their chances and keep them to the perimeter. We felt that if we could do that, we could win it late in the third.”
BC, for its part, served Air Force its first shutout of the season, holding the Falcons to just eight grade-A chances.
“They really started to turn it on in the last five minutes,” said BC goaltender Parker Milner. “We really shut them down defensively; all their shots came from behind the dots. It was a great team effort.”
Air Force entered the game looking to hold BC to the perimeter in order to limit the quality of BC’s shots. The Falcons largely achieved that, allowing only five grade-A chances over the first two periods.
“There’s no way we were going to be able to stop Boston College, so we wanted to push them into areas and contain them the best we can,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “We pushed them to the outside, and we had numbers back. We didn’t give them an out-numbered rush the entire game”
BC is typically very good at creating odd-man rushes. The Eagles are strong, fast skaters who seize those opportunities well. That the Falcons, a slower team, were able to hold off any odd-man rushes said a lot about their game plan.
“Our game plan was to get to that third period with the score close,” Serratore said. “If you win the third period, you’ve got a great chance. You’re either going to win it in the third or you’re going to have the momentum to win it in overtime.”
The plan proved to be a good one as it worked out just as Serratore hoped it would, putting Air Force right where it wanted to be in the final minutes of the game. If not for a poorly timed penalty, it may have worked out for them.
However, the Eagles played great defense on their end as well. Milner earned his fourth shutout of the year, making 20 saves. BC’s defense has been strong all year — the Eagles have allowed an average of 26.92 shots and 2.14 goals per game. BC has allowed only 20 goals in its current win streak.
“From the goal out, we’re an excellent defensive team,” BC coach Jerry York said. “To be a championship team, in most sports, you’ve got to have a solid defense.”
Both teams did their best to prove York’s statement about needing a good defense. The Eagles just did it a little bit better.