DETROIT — Boston College is headed to the national championship game, and this is not a repeat from 2008, 2007 or 2006.
Thanks to an opportunistic offense, which scored seven goals on just 30 shots, and a solid effort in net by BC netminder John Muse (17 saves), the Eagles knocked off Miami, 7-1, in front of a record 34,954 fans at Ford Field, to advance to its fourth national title game in five years.
Boston College will face Wisconsin, an 8-1 winner over RIT in the opening semifinal. Muse is now 7-0 in NCAA playoff games.
The Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the four-minute mark of the second period, thanks in part to a power play that finished the game two-for-five. That same power play hadn’t scored a goal in this year’s NCAA tournament.
“You’ve got to have amnesia when it comes to power plays,” said BC coach Jerry York. “We were 0-for-10 coming into today and the next power play shift is the most important shift. We feel very confident with our special teams now.”
Related link: Video: Postgame Reaction from BC
Joe Whitney (goal, assist), Brian Gibbons (three assists), Ben Smith (two goals, assist), Jimmy Hayes (goal, two assists), Pat Mullane (two assists) and Brian Dumoulin (two assist) all had multiple-point games for BC.
Though Miami had the best of the early shots, holding a 5-1 lead through the first eight minutes, BC responded to take control late in the period and, with 1:28 remaining, got on the board.
Five seconds after Miami’s Joe Hartman was whistled for holding, Ben Smith redirected a Joe Whitney shot past Miami start Connor Knapp (six saves in 23:05) for the 1-0 lead.
“That was a big goal for us to end the first,” said Smith. “Joe [Whitney] just gave me a great shot-pass and I was able to tip it by the goalie.”
In the second, BC was flying from the opening faceoff. The Eagles again went on the power play when Will Weber was sent off for interference just eight seconds into the frame, but it was Miami that had the best chance. Andy Miele walked in alone, forcing Muse to make an acrobatic pad save to maintain the lead. Before the power play ended, BC swung the momentum entirely in its direction.
Jimmy Hayes buried a one-timer through Knapp’s legs after Pat Mullane centered a loose puck from the right corner at 2:06 for the two-goal lead.
“If [Miele] scores, it’s 1-1 and it’s a different game,” said Miami coach Enrico Blasi. “You have to capitalize on your opportunities. Absolutely, that was a turning point.”
Just 62 seconds later, BC struck again when Joe Whitney scored from the exact same spot as Hayes — the high slot — and that goal chased Knapp from the game. Hobey Baker finalist Cody Reichard replaced Knapp and in doing so, seemed to settle down the RedHawks defense.
At the other end, Muse was sharp, particularly late in the frame when Miami packed things into the crease. Miami still only had four shots on goal in the frame and the Eagles took the 3-0 lead to the locker room.
In the third, Miami finally got on the board at 5:19 when Hartman’s shot from the right point beat Muse over the shoulder through a screen to pull the RedHawks within two at 3-1.
Midway through the frame, BC struck with the dagger. Three of them, in fact.
Cam Atkinson, Patch Alber (first goal of his career) and Paul Carey all scored within a span of 1:35 to take any wind out of the RedHawks’ sails.
Smith scored his second goal of the game with 3:39 remaining to account for the 7-1 final.
The loss for Miami ends its campaign at 29-8-7, the second most wins in school history (2007-08, 33). It’s also the fourth time in five seasons that Miami’s season ended at the hands of Boston College in the NCAA tournament. The one year Miami didn’t lose to BC, 2009, they fell to another Beantown school, Boston University.
“It’s like the curse of Boston continues,” said Miami senior forward Jarod Palmer. “I don’t really know exactly what happened out there [tonight].”
The Eagles, on the other hand, advance to the title game for the 10th time in school history and the seventh time under York. BC is looking for its fourth national title and third in the last 10 years. Saturday’s game versus Wisconsin will be a rematch of the 2006 final, which Wisconsin won, 2-1.
“I wasn’t here in ’06 when BC played Wisconsin, but I know that was a pretty tough loss for a lot of the guys,” said Smith. “It’s exciting to be back in the national championship game. Wisconsin’s a great team and you saw that tonight. We’ll prepare and come out on Saturday night ready to go.”