Easter weekend was a feast for hardcore hockey fans in Boston, since it truly was “The Hub of Hockey.” It all began on Thursday with a storied Original Six rivalry and continued the next two nights with the scintillating Hockey East Tournament.
The game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at the TD Banknorth Garden was witnessed by a roaring crowd, some of whom were Habs fans, with Montreal coming out the victors for the seventh time in seven meeting during the 2007-08 season.
Bruins fans thought they had hope when they hung in there for the first 20 minutes of the game, and even when it was 2-1 after two periods. However, the Habs struck again for two goals in the third period, and forward Alexi Kovalev killed any hope of the Bruins coming out with their first win over the Habs this year.
“I don’t think it’s about these guys right now,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the game about the frustration of losing to Montreal for the seventh consecutive time this season. “It’s about us. The first half I thought we were good enough to take the lead, but we are not putting the puck in the net and as long as you don’t do that, a team like that will score.”
Even though Bruins fans did not come out with a smile on their face Thursday night, there was one Boston team who had a great weekend, and that was the Boston College Eagles. On Friday night, the Eagles came back from a 4-1 deficit midway through the second and scored four unanswered goals, including the game-winner by Benn Ferriero in triple overtime, to defeat the top ranked team in Hockey East, the New Hampshire Wildcats 5-4.
“They were forcing us pretty hard [on the power play],” Ferriero said as he described the game winning goal. “We tried throwing as many pucks at the net as we can. [Joe] Whitney passed it across and it bounced off a UNH defenseman and it went in.”
Even though the Eagles were satisfied with their effort Friday night, there was still one more goal in mind, to win their eighth Hockey East tournament title. Fighting through the fatigue, the Eagles showed that they were more than a match for Vermont in the 4-0 victory.
“They were such different types of games,” said BC coach Jerry York about playing the Vermont Catamounts. “[Friday night] was more skating, more wide open type of game, tonight was a much more defensive struggle, very tight checking, and I thought the team adapted to both styles of play.
“I think both teams have to do that. You can’t be a team that can just play the quick, up-tempo game, because a lot of times you’ll run into other opponents that are much more close checking, tightly controlled teams. It pleased me the very most that we could play both styles of hockey and we could come out victorious.”
Some pluses and minuses from this hockey crazed weekend:
PLUS – There were 17,565 at the Bruins game. Although some fans were on the Habs’ side, the atmosphere was great. It’s what you want from a rivalry game.
PLUS – The Vermont showing this weekend was very excellent. In their first Hockey East appearance, the Cats proved that they can provide good hockey for their loyal fans.
MINUS – The triple overtime game took over four hours. While it was exciting, it eventually led to the Vermont, Boston University game starting around 10:00 p.m.
MINUS – The combined showing for the two Hockey East games was 24,288, which was only 6,723 more fans than a regular sellout at the Garden.
PLUS – The BC championship game win was the 799th in the distinguished career of gentleman coach Jerry York.
PLUS – The spectacular goaltending of UNH’s Kevin Regan and BC’s John Muse. Regan had 62 saves in the overtime loss, and Muse, who had 42 saves in the same game, pitched a shutout with 29 saves against Vermont in the championship.