One of the main strengths of BU’s team is the even scoring across the four forward lines, and this game showed that as all four lines had at least one goal, including two from the fourth line. 11 players on the team had points in tonight’s game.
“I like to say I have two first lines, and two second lines,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “It’s nice to have that flexibility. If your opponent shuts down one line, another can hurt you. It’s been like that all year; I think we’re the top team in the country in number of players with 20 points (11).
Youth Leaves A Mark
22 of the 27 players on the Ohio State roster were freshmen or sophomores, and that youth was both a strength and a weakness of this club, said coach John Markell.
“We knew BU scored goals in bunches,” said Markell. “We watched video of them, and that is something we learned. So we wanted to be careful, once they scored a goal. But the shift after that, that’s where our youth caught up with us.”
The first two BU goals were scored just 45 seconds apart.
“It was a bad change, and one of our young guys didn’t get the puck in deep enough, and they took advantage,” he continued. “But I only have three [seniors] with tears in their eyes. The rest of the guys know they are coming back, and this experience will make them stronger.”
Sophomore Hunter Bishop, who had OSU’s first goal of the game, agreed. “The youth had something to do with it,” he said. “One of our focuses this year has been to be more consistent, and obviously we didn’t get the start we wanted.
“For the guys that return next year, it will be a good learning experience.”
And A Freshman Shall Lead Them
Boston University’s freshman goalie Kieran Millan has been key to the success the Terriers have had this year. Millan set a record for BU freshman goalies with 25 wins, and was recently named Hockey East’s Rookie of the Year. The Terriers have had the league ROTY in three of the last four years.
Millan was also named the Tournament MVP in the Hockey East playoffs, as he stopped all 32 shots he saw in a 1-0 Terrier win over Mass.-Lowell in the title game. In fact, Millan had not allowed a goal for 100 minutes, 54 seconds until OSU’s Hunter Bishop scored in the second period of the Regional semifinal.
There were two unusual empty net situations for Ohio State. With more than six minutes remaining in the game, and the Terriers leading 6-3, backup netminder Cal Heeter was pulled for the extra attacker.
“Why not?” asked Ohio State coach John Markell. “Never give up. Earlier in the year we were losing 6-2 against Miami and we scored three goals. We were at 6-5 with a minute remaining. That says to the players ‘Never give up.'”
In this case, BU forward Zach Cohen was able to score his second goal of the game, an empty netter, to make the score 7-3.
Later, during an Ohio State power play, Markell again saw a chance to claw back into the game, and pulled his goalie for a two man advantage. The result this time? An empty net goal for Chris Higgins to extend the BU lead to 8-3.
Learn From History
BU coach Jack Parker noticed the similarity between this year and 2006, when the No. 1 seeded Terriers won 9-1 over a CCHA opponent, Nebraska-Omaha, before falling to a Hockey East rival in the Regional final (BC, 5-0).
“We won that game pretty handily [9-1], and we played BC, who we had beaten four straight times,” observed Parker. “And this year, we’ve beaten New Hampshire the last two times we have played them. So they are very similar.
“We’ve got players who have been through that situation, so hopefully that will help,” he continued. “Henry Ford said, ‘Experience is the best thing to have.’
“I think you’ll see a very different game tomorrow, very emotional.”
Coach vs. Coach
Parker has guided BU to 23 NCAA appearances, the most ever for a single coach. His 23 appearances breaks the record of Ron Mason’s 22, 19 with Michigan State, and 3 with Bowling Green.
Ohio State has six NCAA appearances, all coming under John Markell.
Boston University has ended the season of their opponent in the last four games they have played: Maine, Boston College, Mass.-Lowell, and now Ohio State.
Upset About Upsets
The large number of upsets in this year’s tournament was not lost on either coach.
“I think Jack used it more than me,” said Markell. “They probably used it as a wake-up call, to keep his team focused. We just wanted to put an ‘A’ game out there on the ice, and obviously we didn’t do that. And BU was a big part of that.”
“We used it last night,” said Parker. “We knew that Michigan lost. They have a very good team, but they didn’t get it done. Sometimes we try to play pretty goal, pretty goal, pretty goal, when you really need to get dirty and grind out a goal or two.”
“We didn’t really have to tell [the freshmen] too much,” said Jason Lawrence, who had two goals on the night. “They practice hard and play hard, and they have done that all year long.”
“When you win a NCAA game 8-3, you’ve got to be very, very fortunate, and you’ve got to be very, very happy, and we are,” Parker continued. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best way to win a hockey game is to get off the bus with the best team.”