MINNEAPOLIS — Boston College got goals from six different players en route to a 8-2 shellacking of the Air Force Falcons in the first semifinal of the Dodge Holiday Classic at Mariucci Arena. Senior Dan Bertram and sophomore Ben Smith each had a pair of goals for the Eagles, while junior Nate Gerbe had a goal and three assists, bringing his point total on the season to 25, including 16 in his last four games.
“We played a very solid game,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “Prior to the break, we were playing strong, smart hockey, and I think we carried that over.”
BC has now outscored the opposition 25-9 in its last four games.
“We’re playing simple hockey, but at a high tempo,” said York. “You want to get better as the season goes on and I think we’re doing that. We had some suspensions and injuries earlier, but the goal is to play your best hockey at the end of the season and we’re progressing towards that.”
The Eagles led 3-0 after the first period, chasing Air Force starter Andrew Volkening. Bertram got his first of the game and second of the season at 7:45. A centering pass from Gerbe bounced off an Air Force player and onto the stick of Bertram, who put it over the shoulder of Volkening to make it 1-0.
BC made it 2-0 at 12:30 when Joe Whitney picked up a loose puck in the slot and fed it to Benn Ferriero, who beat Volkening five-hole.
At 15:19, Brian Gibbons’ floater from the point sailed over Volkening’s shoulder to make it 3-0, and that was all for the Air Force netminder, who left the game with eight saves.
“Air Force is a good team and well coached, but we got a jump on them early and that set the tone for the rest of the game,” said York.
Ian Harper replaced Volkening and made five saves to close out the first period, but BC resumed its attack just 40 seconds into the second period when Bertram got his second of the game, banging in a rebound off a shot from Pat Gannon.
An Air Force giveaway at 5:16 provided a two-on-one opportunity for Gerbe and Smith, and Smith buried his chance to make it 5-0. Boston College closed out the second with a goal from sophomore Matt Price, his first of the season.
The Falcons got on the board to open the third period, as Jeff Hajner got his seventh goal of the season off a feed from Brent Olson. Boston College immediately answered, as Gerbe scored his 14th on a partial breakaway just 11 seconds later. He would later assist on BC’s final goal of the game, Smith’s second.
“Nate’s had a solid career, but this year he’s taken it to a whole new level,” said York.
“I’ve been lucky,” said Gerbe, of his hot streak. “Just trying to work hard, get good position and keep my feet moving. Plus I’m skating with some really talented guys.”
“We haven’t been beaten like that in a long time,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “That’s a very good team. Not only do they have great individual talent, but they play well as a team.”
BC will take on RIT in the Championship game. The Tigers upset the host Gophers, 4-3.