Too Much Power
Boston College finished the game 3-for-11 with the man advantage, while Mercyhurst went 2-for-8. The teams at one point in the second period had scored five straight goals on the power play. Each team exhibited at least one highlight-reel goal, perhaps none better than Brian Boyle’s goal at 12:18 of the first period to even the contest at 2. Four Eagles touched the puck in a tic-tac-toe sequence culminating with Boyle roofing one under the crossbar.
“The penalties definitely affected our game,” said Mercyhurst forward David Wrigley. “We didn’t even make so many mistakes, but they have a really good power play.”
The expiration of the power plays proved almost as dangerous as their duration. The Lakers had three breakaways during the third period on skaters departing the box. T.J. Kemp and Scott Reynolds each had a one-on-one with BC goaltender Cory Schneider and the Eagle freshman was able to preserve the one-goal lead down the stretch.
When Mercyhurst goaltender Mike Ella limped off the ice with 5:59 left in the third period after going down awkwardly, the entire crowd gave him a rousing standing ovation in appreciation of a job well done. He had almost single-handedly given the Lakers a chance to win, having stopped 50 shots up to that point.
His replacement, Andy Franck, had not appeared since Feb. 18, a 4-3 loss to Connecticut. Patrick Eaves immediately tested him, booming a shot from the point that Franck calmly blocked into the corner.
Mercyhurst was able to breathe a sigh of relief when Ella returned 51 seconds later.
“My calf started to cramp up and when the Eagles pushed the puck up, my hamstring cramped and it really hurt to stand up,” Ella said. “Coach kind of massaged it and I was able to return.”
Ella’s 52 saves tied Chris Terreri of Providence for the seventh-most in NCAA play and the fourth-most in a regulation game.
Mercyhurst appeared to catch a break entering the NCAA regional with the high profile injuries to Boston College. However, Patrick Eaves (bruised lungs) and Stephen Gionta (separated shoulder) returned to the lineup to help the Eagles eke out the victory.
Eaves had missed the entire Hockey East tournament, while Gionta injured himself in the double-overtime win against Maine. Junior defenseman Peter Harrold remained on the disabled list with acute mononucleosis. His prognosis remains uncertain as to a possible return to the lineup this season.
If you looked at the Mercyhurst band and thought the school had a bunch of Doogie Howsers, think again. The Lakers’ pep band could not endure the eight-hour bus ride, so rather than allow BC have the show to itself, the school paid local Shrewsbury High School to wear their colors and fill the DCU Center with the usual college cacophony.
The kiddies filled in admirably with renditions of standards like “The Hey Song” and “The Imperial March” from Star Wars as well as tunes less familiar to teenagers like Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.”
Aces and Eights
Both schools took eight-game unbeaten streaks into the contest. Boston College extended that to 7-0-2, while Mercyhurst had been a perfect 8-0-0 in its last octet.
Wrigley’s goal 27 seconds into the contest was the third-fastest in NCAA regional history. Meanwhile, a win would not only have been the Lakers’ first-ever NCAA tournament victory, but its first-ever against a Hockey East opponent
Friday Night Frights
For the second straight week, Friday night ended up a nightmare for Boston University, falling, 4-0, to North Dakota in the second semifinal. Last weekend the Terriers allowed New Hampshire to jump out to a 4-0 lead through two periods en route to a 5-2 win in the Hockey East semifinals. Friday, the Terriers spotted North Dakota a 3-0 advantage through two. It’s the fourth straight NCAA appearance for Boston University that has ended short of the Frozen Four. BU last reached the Frozen Four in 1997, losing to none other than North Dakota in the national championship game.
Upon Further Review
Instant replay, rarely used in college hockey except for televised tournament games, was a factor for the first time this year’s East Regional in the Boston University-North Dakota game.
After it looked like Boston University had pulled within a goal when Brian McConnell roofed a shot over Sioux goaltender Jordan Parise, replay disallowed the goal when it showed John Laliberte was in the crease as the shot was taken. All goals in NCAA tournament play are automatically reviewed. Video official Brendan Sheehy, director of officials for Hockey East, took little time to review the play before informing referee Matt Shegos of the decision.
Packing It In
The DCU Center packed a hefty crowd for Friday’s opening night of the regional tournament. A grand total of 8,360 packed the building, making the often-steamy building extra hot. The fact that the second game was a bit of a blowout helped empty the building long before the night’s festivities were finished.
Former BU Terrier Travis Roy, who was tragically injured 11 seconds into his first shift for the Terriers in 1996, was present not as a fan Friday night but as a sideline reporter for ESPN, which broadcast and distributed the game on newly-launched ESPNU as well as other regional sports networks.
Roy was paralyzed in his accident, which came against North Dakota, and remains confined to a wheelchair, but has always been thought of around the college game and sporting world as well-spoken and articulate.
North Dakota goaltender Jordan Parise likes the NCAA tournament. The sophomore netminder has now played three NCAA tournament games and allowed a grand total of just one — count ’em, one — goal. Parise shut out Holy Cross, 3-0, in last year’s regional first round, but lost the following night, 1-0. His shutout of BU was the 29th in NCAA tournament history. Parise joins former Sioux standout Karl Goehring, Michigan’s Marty Turco and Denver’s Adam Berkhoel as the only goalies to post two career NCAA shutouts.
“During the first period, one of my players came over to me and said ‘Coach, that No. 10 [Boyle] is really big and really fast and I’m really nervous.’ I told him, ‘Now is no time to be nervous. Get his autograph after the game.” — Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin on playing the number-one overall seed in the tournament.
“We went 0-for-100 on the power play, it seemed,” — BU coach Jack Parker on his team’s performance Friday. In reality the Terriers were 0-for-10 with the man advantage.