PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In a truly mad March, the Union Dutchmen were only too happy to add to the lunacy. ECAC Hockey’s tournament champions routed national titleholder Boston College on Saturday night, scoring three power-play goals while snuffing the potent Eagles on the way to a 5-1 victory.
2013 NCAA East Regional
Follow all of our coverage from Providence at Regional Central
“It’s easy to sit here after a win and say yes, (we expected to beat BC),” said Union coach Rick Bennett. “But did we expect to win this game 5-1? Probably not. By the same token, we felt we stood a very good chance of beating them here tonight. This program’s had some pretty good wins over the last couple years: Minnesota, Michigan — those are pretty good programs. Excellent programs. So tonight was just another win for us.”
Sophomore Johnny Gaudreau scored BC’s lone goal late in the third, with the score already 5-0, and senior goaltender Parker Milner had a rough night, with only 30 stops on 35 shots. Union blocked 20 shots by the Eagles (22-12-4, 15-9-3 Hockey East) over the course of the game, and forced another 20 off target.
“I’ve gotta give credit to Union; they beat us fair and square,” said BC coach Jerry York, returning from eye surgery for the game and sporting an eye patch over his healing right eye. “They’re really an outstanding hockey team. We had to bury some chances — we had some real good scoring opportunities that just didn’t go in the net for us, either real good saves or just missed opportunities.”
The first period featured pro-quality play in every way: Big hits, big moves, and a truly advanced pace. Each team generated a number of high-percentage looks, including a heart-stopping 10-second segment in which BC’s Steven Whitney nailed Grosenick’s crossbar on a power play, followed by a breakout pass to Union’s Greg Coburn, bolting from the box. Coburn lost the breakaway dribble at the edge of the crease, but Milner still had to make an alert squeeze to keep the puck from dribbling through at the six-minute mark.
The period’s lone goal — surprising, given the intensity — came four minutes later on another pro-grade play by Union’s Jooris and Kevin Sullivan. The latter fed the former on a slick cross-ice feed, and Jooris tattooed a one-timer past the helpless keeper to harken the Schenectady cowbells.
“That was a great play by Dan Carr, just keeping the puck in,” Jooris recalled. “He sent it to the middle to Kevin Sullivan, who was able to get it to me, and I got good wood on it.”
The intermission was the only thing silencing those bells on Saturday night, as Jooris laced a Wayne Simpson feed by Milner just 39 seconds into the second period, and Ikkala let loose with a long salvo that fooled Milner on the glove side 25 seconds later.
“That first four-on-four goal was a critical goal against us,” said York. “We were about to go on a power play, but we didn’t get a chance… before they buried that four-on-four.”
Gostisbehere buried the dagger with 1:44 to play in the frame; Daniel Carr earned his second assist of the night on Union’s second power-play goal of the night.
Boston College was rendered effectively impotent by the Dutchmen, as only 30 of the Eagles’ 71 attempted shots ever made it through to Grosenick. The squad was blanked on seven power plays, generating only eight shots on the advantages, and had only 14 shots-on-goal at the second intermission. That said, the most victorious coach in Division I history took less issue with his own team’s power play than with its penalty kill.
“Failure to stop their power-play” was BC’s fatal flaw, per York. “Special teams were a key part of the equation tonight.”
“We actually took the same game plan that we used against Yale,” Bennett stated. “We felt Yale was a great test for us, in that Yale can quickly transition to offense, but this team can bring it to a different level, and they didn’t disappoint. So our transition defense had to match their transition offense.”
Ciampini and Gaudreau tallied in the third, when BC pressed with 16 shots, but the deficit was too great for this year’s Eagles.
Union will face the familiar Bobcats at 6:30 Eastern time. Quinnipiac swept the season series with the Dutchmen, 4-0 and 3-2.
Note: With Yale’s wins in the West Regional and QU and Union competing for the East’s Frozen Four ticket, ECAC Hockey is assured two berths in the NCAA’s championship quartet for the first time since 1983, when Providence (now of Hockey East) and Harvard skated in Grand Forks, N.D. This also marks the second year in a row with an ECAC representative in the Frozen Four; the last time that happened was 1991, when Clarkson proceeded Colgate to the season’s final weekend.