TAMPA, Fla. — Stop the presses! Boston College allowed a goal.
The Eagles’ path to the Frozen Four has been well documented. In their last 16 games prior to arriving in Tampa, they’d held every opponent to two goals or less. Over the last 10 games, they’d allowed a total of only seven goals.
For complete Frozen Four coverage, visit USCHO's Frozen Four Central.
Instead, the Gophers gave the BC defense all it could handle for much of the first two periods. After 20 minutes, BC led, but that goal came on its only Grade A chance of the period. The shot charts showed an almost totally clean slot area in front of the Minnesota net compared to seven such chances in front of BC goaltender Parker Milner. Several were blocked by defensemen, but the Eagles were losing the territorial battle.
BC scored 6:35 into the second to seize a 2-0 lead, but that felt safe only because of the team’s recent defensive success. Minnesota continued to generate chances.
Late in the period, BC added two backbreakers to all but end the game. Eventually it won 6-1. Even so, the second period ended with Minnesota outattempting BC 53-32 and outshooting them 21-15.
Going into the contest, some experts had contended that Minnesota’s big forwards offered the Gophers the one advantage onto which they could hang their hat. They could perhaps control the corners against their smaller, highly skilled counterparts and, as a result, control the nation’s top team.
Some of that proved to be true.
“They have a lot of players who can make things happen,” said Brian Dumoulin, BC’s star defenseman. “They have big forwards and they played really hard.
“A lot of the time they were coming off the wall. They’re fast and they’re quick to the middle.
“A lot of it was off the cycle. They kept the puck moving and got it to the point and got shots through.”
Fortunately for the Eagles, Parker Milner continued his stellar play in the net. Minnesota broke through and scored in the third period, snapping Milner’s scoreless streak at 193 minutes, 49 seconds, but Milner got the last laugh, finishing with 30 saves on the Gophers’ 31 shots.
“Parker Milner made some very timely saves early in the game where I thought Minnesota was pressing,” said BC coach Jerry York. “They had the puck. They had some excellent opportunities to score, and not just one, but multiple times, and Parker, he was just big in the net. He was very confident and really fueled us to stay in the game.”
In the third period, Minnesota did score, but saw most of its opportunities pushed to the outside; BC’s defense kept the slot area clean.
“We knew that we were going to be hemmed in and they were going to challenge us,” said Dumoulin. “I feel like that only made us better throughout the game.”
In challenging BC’s defense, the Gophers may have taken a defensive juggernaut and made it even more formidable.
“We were tested,” said Dumoulin. “They competed really hard and they showed where we’ve got to work hard on the cycle. There are some areas we can improve on tomorrow to get ready for Saturday.”
He then said words that should strike fear in every Ferris State supporter’s heart.
“That will only make us better,” said Dumoulin. “We’ll learn from it and get better from it.”