WORCESTER, Mass. — Standing in stark contrast to Boston University’s blowout of Nebraska-Omaha in the early semifinal, the nightcap of the Northeast Regional between No. 2 seed Miami and No. 3 Boston College was closely contested from the opening whistle.
Boston College made more of its special-teams opportunities than the RedHawks and that, combined with a steady performance in net by Cory Schneider, enabled the Eagles to cruise to a 5-0 win.
The final score was closer than it might appear, as it included two empty-net goals over the last seven-plus minutes. Miami coach Enrico Blasi pulled netminder Charlie Effinger a little past the halfway point in the third in a last-ditch effort to spark some offensive production from his team.
“The game was kind of a deceiving type of score,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “It was 3-0 us at the end of the second period, but it could just have easily been 0-0.”
The reason for that was two-fold, according to York. First and foremost was the strong performance by Schneider, who stopped all 33 shots he faced, including a number of quality scoring chances during Miami power plays.
“I thought Cory Schneider was outstanding,” York said. “He takes seemingly sure goals away from people.”
“You know that [Cory's] going to make the first save,” said freshman forward Ben Ferriero. “There’s not many first shots that beat him, it’s mostly on second shots and rebounds.”
The other factor that aided the Eagles was a series of odd bounces. The first such bounce resulted in Boston College’s second goal, and the most prominent of the odd occurrences produced the Eagles’ pivotal third goal near the end of the second period.
Ferriero had given the Eagles a 1-0 edge on the power play 34 seconds into the middle period after redirecting a cross-crease pass from senior forward Chris Collins. Up a man again after Miami’s Marty Guerin was whistled for tripping at 2:22, Ferriero picked up the puck off the low boards following a dump-in pass from Brett Motherwell.
He fired off a centering pass which took an odd bounce and deflected off the stick of a diving Miami defenseman and into the back of the net.
“The one that bothered us was the one that went into our own net,” said Blasi. “Seven times out of ten it goes into the corner, but it went into our net.
“We started to come back again,” he continued. “We were on the power play; their guy [forward Dan Bertram] comes out of the box and our guy trips over one of our other guy’s sticks.”
Bertram scooped up the puck near center ice following a clear by Stephen Gionta, and his speed through the neutral zone may have been partially to blame for the Miami stumble. Still, with his defender down Bertram swooped in on Effinger and sent a shot on net that trickled between the pads and gave BC a 3-0 lead.
The play, which came as a Bertram penalty for interference was expiring, was a tough blow for the RedHawks. Miami had been gaining confidence from the quality chances its power play was producing, and though the team had yet to score, the RedHawks seemed to be on the verge of lighting the lantern.
Bertram’s goal changed that, killing Miami’s momentum and bolstering the spirits of an Eagle penalty-kill unit that was miserly all night. By game’s end, BC’s penalty-kill had stopped all eight of Miami’s opportunities.
“Obviously we didn’t score on the power play, though we had our chances,” Blasi said. “They blocked shots, they kept us to the perimeter, and when we did get a good chance on net, Cory was there to stop it.”
“BC blocked shots, it was really hard to get shots through,” said Miami forward Ryan Jones. “They did a great job, give them credit.”
Miami put on pressure at the start of the third, but could not get anything by Schneider. While Blasi’s attempt to spark life into his team by pulling the goaltender with nearly half a period to play did create opportunities for the RedHawks, it also resulted in a pair of empty-net goals for BC’s Collins and Mike Brennan.
“[BC] had a lot of speed, and their power play was awesome,” said Jones. “Their penalty kill stepped up as well, that’s why they are going on tomorrow.”
With the victory, Boston College moves on to the regional final, where it will meet familiar foe Boston University. Faceoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.