Boston College won the Northeast Regional, beating Air Force 2-0 and UMD 4-0.
That meant veteran BC coach Jerry York had to be on a Frozen Four teleconference call on Tuesday. "It is always a terrific day to be on this call," he said in his opening statement.
He has been on it often. The Eagles will play in their 10th Frozen Four in 15 years. The Eagles have won four national titles, most recently in 2008 and 2010.
York said the four teams who advanced offer an interesting dynamic: one team form each conference and the site is an NHL venue, the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The four teams are:
Boston College: the regular season and playoffs champion in Hockey East
Gophers: WCHA regular-season champion
Union: ECAA regular-season champion and playoffs champon
Ferris State: CCHA regular-season champion
York said BC's regional was a a hard-hard climb. He said Air Force was a difficult opponent and UMD had one of the best teams in the country. "Two goals in under two minutes changed the feeling of the game," York said, referring to two BC goals 1 minute, 26 seconds apart early in the second period.
He said it is hard to take a team's sticks away, which BC did with the Bulldogs, ending their season.
"We have some players who had experienced this," York said, referring to the Frozen Four, "and know what a terrific event it is."
He said the Eagles are playing a traditional power with an unbelievable history. "Donnie Lucia has won multiple NCAA titles," York said. "That's an impressive situation and it looks liked he has geared his team up again."
YORK ON BC
How did BC make it back to the Frozen Four? The Eagles, he said, wanted to accomplish some goals during the season such as winning the conference in the regular season, winning the conference tournament and of their minds, BC was looking at a national championship.
"We had an awful lot of good players over years, and we have the same train going through this year," he said. There is no magic formula. A lot good players,keep same train going through the year."
The coaches always stress defense. "We always have had good defensemen," York said. "We understand the season will not extend if you just play offense."
In the nets, BC has junior Parker Milner, who is in the mold of past good goalies. "He was very good in the season and he is getting better as weather warms up," York said.
York said this Frozen Four has an interesting field. "You have two traditional teams that have made a lot of trips and won national championships," he said. "But you also have two clubs that really responded and also have an excellent chance to win the national championship."
He said it is not unusual for small schools like Lake Superior State or Northern Michigan to be in the Frozen Four. He won a national title coaching Bowling Green.
Thoughts on an NCAA tournament in Florida? He said Florida citizens are used to watching NHL hockey, now they will see some outstanding college players.
"We have won 18 games in a row [actually 17] and we are a good club," York said. "You don't get to the Frozen Four unless you are a good team. We watched the Gophers team play a fine University of North Dakota squad and we were impressed with Minnesota."
PEAKING FOR PLAYOFFS
How can BC always peak late in the season? "We have been very fortunate in avoiding injuries," York said, "or you could not put runs on like we have.
He said his players want to be part of a team which accumulates banners and trophies, so they can look back at their legacy. And no trophy he said is shinier than the one for winning an NCAA title.
"From November to late January, we were 6-9-1," he said. "We talked with the captain and players. We were an average team."
He said the players decided they did not want to be average. "To be special, we had to get better in all areas," he said.
The team improved its play and had an outstanding work ethic and build on that.
"Last year’s team was probably better than the '08 and '10 teams," York said, referring to two NCAA championship teams. "We thought we had a chance to win three national titles in four years. … It is difficult to win. We were very. disappointed. [Our seniors] thad their heart set on three in four years.
"We are preparing very hard," York said, "preparing to play one of Donnie’s best clubs at Minnesota."
York said the Eagles have more recent history meeting North Dakota in postseason play but he ws not necessatily expected the Fighting Sioux to beat the Gophers.
He said he knew UND had to go through Minnesota and the Gophers were the WCHA regular-season champions.
York said the Gophers were better in the regional final.
"We had that history with North Dakota in the regionals and Frozen Four. But the rivalry with the Gophers goes back a long way, and it is not that just the color of our uniforms is the same. We are honored to be looking across the ice to the gophers."
The NCAA is holding the Frozen Four in Tampa to try to spread college hockey.
"We certainly have collegiate players from areas we would never think they would come from," York said.
He said players coming from Los Angeles, Colorado and Texas is an offshoot of NHL teams moving there. "As we expand the college scene," York said, "who is to to say thetre won't be a University of Florida or Florida State playing hockey?"
The Frozen Four will be in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia the next two seasons. Pennsylvania is another state not known for hockey.
"We have a goalie and a defenseman from Pittsburgh and a young man from Philadelphia all play for us," York said. "That would be unheard of 10-15 years ago."
* Tommy Cross, a senior defenseman for BC, said the Eagles' loss to Colorado College in the West regional "confirmed what we knew, that playoff hockey is really hard.
"Air Force played a strong game against us and did not give much room. They were a difficult opponent, same for Duluth."
Asked about the huge blue-line corps the Eagles have, Cross said. "As a 'D' corps, we made some improvement as the year has gone along. … We have a veteran, experienced 'D'-corps.… We all play off each other pretty well, we are all back from last year. … But our dest defender lately has been our goaltender."
Here is the line-up Boston College used to beat UMD 4-0 on Sunday.
#9 Barry Almeida --#24Bill Arnold --#21 Steven Whitney
5-8, 183, sr. 6-0, 210, so. 5-7, 162, jr.
22-16-38 17-17-34 13-22-35
#19 Chris Kreider -- #12 Kevin Hayes -- #17 Destry Straight
6-3, 225, jr. 6-3, 205, so. 6-0, 165, fr.
22-21-43 6-20-26 3-6-9
#13 Johnny Gaudreau -- #11 Pat Mullane --#22 Paul Carey
5-7, 150, fr. 5-11, 190, jr. 6-1, 196, sr.
20-21-41 10-26-36 15-12-27
#25 Quinn Smith -- #18 Michael Sit -- #10 DannyLinell
5-8, 165, fr. 5-10, 180, fr. 5-9, 185, fr.
1-3-4 0-3-3 3-3-6
#4 Tommy Cross -- #8 Edwin Shea
6-3, 215, sr. 6-0, 190, sr.
#2 Brian Dumoulin -- #6 Patrick Wey
6-4, 225, jr. 6-3, 210, jr.
#7 Isaac MacLeod - -#3 Patch Alber
6-5,210, so. 5-10, 170, jr.
#35 Parker Milner
6-1, 197, jr.
1.7 gaa, .935 save pct.