Eagles Rout Badgers to Win National Title

DETROIT— Two
years ago Ben Smith put the icing on the cake. This year he got the party
started. 

During
the 2008 National Championship game Smith, then a sophomore, scored the backbreaking
goal in a 4-1 win over Notre Dame. Two years later he struck again in the
Championship game, this time with what proved to be the game-winner in the
first period of a 5-0 victory over Wisconsin.

“In
2008 that was a big goal for us, it sort of sealed the deal,” Smith said.
“Tonight, that first period was back-and-forth, that goal tonight it was
big for us. You always want to score that first goal, I just turned and shot it
as fast as I could.”

That
shot, proved to be the only goal Wisconsin would need.

Smith,
who was named the Frozen Four’s Most Outstanding Player, helped lead a dominant
Eagle effort in a match-up of two teams that were mirror images of each other
entering the title game.

Both
teams had 28 wins this season, both were averaging 4.1 goals a game, both were
allowing 2.5 goals per game, heck they both even played in an outdoor game this
season. But,
all those similarities came to an end Saturday night.

BC was simply the better team Saturday night, claiming their fourth
National Title and third in ten years.

“I
just think we didn’t have our best effort tonight in terms of being
sharp,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said.

Eaves
counterpart, Jerry York, won his fourth national title — three with Boston
College, one with Bowling Green — moving him into second all-time for most
titles in Division I history. 

While
York was celebrating his fourth championship, he still felt Wisconsin was the
best team he’s played all year.

“They’re
just a good, hard team to play against, they have the best six defenseman we’ve
played against all year” York said.

The
Eagles dominated the first period, outshooting the Badgers 12-5, and came
within inches of taking the early lead just five minutes in when a power play
shot bounced off the end boards and almost took a ricochet into the net.

While
most of the early action was on the other end of the ice, goalie
John Muse did make the save of the period 8:01 into the game.

“That
was huge, coming back to the bench and seeing the energy on the boys on the
bench [after the save],” Eagle captain Matt Price said.

Wisconsin’s
Derek Stepan found wide-open linemate Michael Davies on a 2-on-1, but Muse was
able to slide across and make the right pad save. Muse’s
early save proved to be even bigger as his teammates found the back of the net
just less than five minutes later.

Smith
gave Boston College lead when his wrist shot from the slot snuck past a
screened Scott Gudmandson and into the net. The
power play tally, which came at the 12:57 mark of the opening period, was
assisted on by brothers Joe and Steven Whitney.

After
getting outplayed in the opening stanza, the Badgers came out in the second
period with better offensive efficiency, but still couldn’t put a shot past
Muse in the Eagle net.

While
Muse played well in the period stopping nine shots, Wisconsin’s two best
scoring chances didn’t even register as shots on net.

Midway through the second period Wisconsin had a golden chance to tie the game at one
with Muse out of position after the initial save. However, the short-angle
rebound shot hit the side of the net and was cleared by the Eagle defense.

The
Badgers had another great opportunity with 5:47 remaining in the period when
Davies was able to knock a loose puck out of mid-air and race in for the
breakaway. Unfortunately for Davies and the Badgers, the senior right winger
whiffed on the shot and Boston College was able to clear the play.

“On
our last power play, Brennan Smith had the puck right where he wanted it and he
fanned on it, Michael Davies knocked the puck out of the air, it was rocking on
the breakaway, it bounced on him, and it didn’t just seem to be our day,”
Eaves said.

Those
missed opportunities in the second period proved to be even more detrimental to
the Badgers, as Cam Atkinson struck twice in the third period.

“In
that second period, we were up 1-0 we made a couple little fixes and we we’re
able to take it won Wisconsin in the third,” Smith said.

And
they did, with Atkinson leading the charge.

First,
Atkinson out skated the Wisconsin defense and his backhand shot from the right
face-off dot beat Gudmandson through the five-hole just 1:38 into the period.

Then
he did it again. This
time on the power play, Atkinson once again out skated the Badger defense and
feathered a  shot through Gudmanson’s
five-hole. Atkinson’s
speed proved to be difference on the goal, something that gave Wisconsin fits
all game.

“They
got around us a couple times and made us pay, no question about it,”
Wisconsin defenseman Ryan McDonagh said.

Sandwiched
in-between Atkinson’s goals, the Eagles picked up another goal as Kris Kreider
was on the end of a pretty passing play just minutes after Atkinson’s first
goal.

From
there on it was all Muse. 

The
junior goaltender, who has never lost an NCAA tournament game, just like he had
all night turned away everything that came his way, including a spectacular pad
save with just over six minutes remaining in the game.

“It’s
not really only me, it’s everybody in the locker room,” Muse said.
“Everybody’s blocking shots and they’re tremendous back checkers. I can’t
really take the credit when I get only 20 shots.”

Muse
stopped 20 shots in the win, his counterpart Gundmandson stopped 21-of-25 shots
he face. 

Price also added an
empty net goal with 4:31 remaining.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments are closed.