DURHAM, N.H. – When you take a look at this year’s senior class for Boston College, you can sum up their success in one word: championships.
The three seniors – John Muse, Joe Whitney and Brian Gibbons – have combined for three Beanpot titles, two Hockey East tournament titles and, most impressively two NCAA national championships.
But until Saturday, the one title that has eluded the Eagles seniors was the Hockey East regular season crown. Three times in the last five years BC finished runner-up by a single point. And for the bulk of the first two periods on Saturday it looked as if that might happen once again.
The Eagles, though, impressively rallied from two goals down, took an early third-period lead and then responded after New Hampshire tied the game with 10 minutes to play with a Pat Mullane game winner to give the Eagles their first regular-season title since 2005.
“It’s quite an honor to win this trophy,” said BC captain Joe Whitney of the regular-season crown. “There’s a reason we haven’t won it in the last couple of years. It’s a hard trophy to win.”
While BC head coach Jerry York has had some wonderful success in his career, to prepare his team for this weekend’s series with UNH, one in which the Eagles needed a minimum of three points against the Wildcats to capture the title, he called upon a man who York says “knows plenty about winning.”
That man was New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
The three-time Super Bowl winning coach last addressed the Eagles seven years ago. Since that time, York maintained the friendship and this past Tuesday asked the coach to come speak to his players.
“It really was a factor in how we prepared for this championship event,” said York of Belichick’s speech. “He hit on some issues that were so important in all of athletics.”
Belichick joked that he didn’t know much about hockey but knew a little about winning. He then went on to deliver a number of analogies that the Eagles used throughout the weekend sweep of the Wildcats.
One of those analogies was comparing the responsibility for carrying the team on the ice to borrowing your parents’ car.
“Back when Bill and I were growing up, there was one car in the family,” said York. “You had responsibility. You had that key and you better bring that car back. Momma’s expecting it the next morning.
“Belichick said, ‘When you go over the boards Friday night and Saturday night, each of you hold the key to Boston College’s success in hockey.’ It was a theme we used during the week. That you’re responsible for your shift, for your contributions.”
On Saturday, there were a number of players who took responsibility for the Eagles success. None, though, did so more than senior netminder Muse.
Muse looked like a goat early when he dropped a bad-angle shot from UNH’s Dalton Speelman that opened the scoring and brought the Whittemore center to life.
Muse, though, bounced back from that goal and played incredible throughout the remainder of the game, frustrating the Wildcat offense. He gave up two additional goals, but that’s when the remainder of the team bailed him out.
Now with the regular-season title in hand, BC can look forward to a series with Massachusetts, a team that salvaged their season on Saturday, rallying from two goals down in the third period to earn a 4-4 tie with Maine to earn the final playoff spot by one point over Providence.
York, ever one to prepare for an opponent, for now is happy to enjoy that regular-season title before thinking about the playoffs.
“I think I might enjoy this one for tonight,” said York. “I’ll wake up tomorrow and start thinking about UMass.”