WORCESTER, Mass. — There will be a new national champion.
For that matter, there will be an entirely fresh Frozen Four.
The top overall seed, Boston College, surgically dismantled the defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on Sunday, capitalizing on opportunities to earn a 4-0 victory and capture the Northeast Regional title at the DCU Center.
The Eagles, getting back to the Frozen Four after a year hiatus, will join Minnesota, making its first appearance since 2005, as well as first-time participants Union and Ferris State at the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., beginning April 5. BC will meet Minnesota will meet in the second semifinal.
“I’m so excited to go to Frozen Fours; it never gets old,” said BC coach Jerry York. “To go to Tampa and bring your club, who you play is secondary at this point.”
The Eagles advanced to their 23rd Frozen Four and 10th under York by not allowing a single goal in the regional tournament. The team played with a near-perfect team defense that was bailed out on its rare mistakes by goaltender and regional Most Outstanding Player Parker Milner.
BC now rides a 17-game winning streak and in that span has allowed just 20 goals. When asked what is going on right now, BC captain and defenseman Tommy Cross had a simple answer.
“This guy is going on,” said Cross, pointing to Milner. “Parker is playing unbelievable right now. He’s making the routine saves and there are a couple of saves [each game] he has no business making.”
Sunday’s save in that class came early in the third period when BC already led, 3-0. Milner stopped former junior teammate J.T. Brown on a breakaway, getting his blocker on the puck as he was falling backwards.
“I’d like to say I remember his moves, but I don’t,” joked Milner.
The Eagles got to that 3-0 lead with quick strikes and a little luck.
After a scoreless first period, BC struck twice in 1:26 to grab a two-goal lead. Pat Mullane started the scoring when he crashed the net and while doing so, pushed a rebound past Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Kenny Reiter (20 saves) at 4:01 of the second.
After a quick Duluth rush towards the BC net, the Eagles counterattacked and struck again. Bill Arnold scored his 16th goal of the year and first of the postseason finishing a Steven Whitney feed.
“That play started with Barry Almeida on the forecheck,” said Arnold. “He got in there and got on the ‘D.’ Stevie picked up the puck and made a pass to me out front.
“When he gets me the puck there, I have to make sure I put it home.”
The quick outburst marked the second time in as many nights that the Bulldogs found themselves in a 2-0 hole. On Saturday, Minnesota-Duluth mustered a wild comeback scoring the game’s final five goals versus Maine.
But facing this Boston College team a night later, that uphill battle was significantly steeper.
“They got a couple of quick goals that put us back on our heels,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “It’s tough to play catch-up. Sooner or later, it really does bite you.”
BC continued to limit the Bulldogs offensively, allowing just seven grade ‘A’ shots on goal in the first two periods.
Early in the third, the BC lead grew to three on a fluke play. Defenseman Patrick Wey attempted to keep a puck in at the half boards and looped a puck towards goal. It hit Reiter in the shoulder on its way down and bounced in back of him, giving the Eagles a three-goal cushion with 18:47 remaining.
Even four Duluth power plays, including a 41-second 5-on-3 advantage, wasn’t enough to solve Milner and the BC defense.
When rookie Johnny Gaudreau buried a breakaway tally with 8:13 left, the partisan BC crowd could begin celebrating and booking their flights for an encore performance of Spring Break, this time in sunny Tampa.
The Eagles will be in search of their third national title in five years and fifth overall for the program.
“We’re extremely excited and look forward to going down to Tampa,” said York. “I told the guys to enjoy this game tonight, though.”