BC romps, advances to Frozen Four finals

77981.jpg

BC romps, advances to Frozen Four finals

Associated Press

DETROIT - Wisconsin and Boston College advanced in the Frozen Four with a pair of routs.

They don't expect it to be as easy to win the NCAA hockey championship.

The Badgers beat Rochester Institute of Technology 8-1, then the Eagles pulled away from Miami of Ohio to win 7-1 in the nightcap at Ford Field on Thursday.

When the teams meet Saturday night in a rematch of the 2006 finals, Boston College's Ben Smith expects the game to be much different than the semifinals were for the traditional powers.

"It won't be as high scoring," Smith said.

The Badgers got past Boston College 2-1 for their sixth national title four years ago and their first since 1990.

"I wasn't here in '06, but I know it was a pretty tough loss for a lot of the guys," Smith said. "It's exciting to be back in the national championship game."

Unless you were rooting for the winning teams, there weren't many thrills in this year's Frozen Four. The combined margin of victory of 13 tied the 1953 semifinals for the second largest in NCAA hockey history, two fewer than the differential from the 1954 tournament.

One rout didn't come as a surprise.

One did.

Wisconsin wasted little time showing why it has an elite college hockey program and that Rochester Institute of Technology isn't quite ready for the sport's biggest stage.

The Badgers scored in the opening minutes of the first two periods.

"Like a snowball, it just got rolling and got bigger and bigger," said Derek Stepan, who scored Wisconsin's second and eighth goals.

RIT, seeded 15th in the 16-team field just five years after moving to Division I, ended its first Frozen Four appearance with a thud.

"We ran into a powerhouse," Tigers coach Wayne Wilson said.

Smith put the Eagles ahead of top-seeded Miami 1-0 on a power-play goal with 1:28 left in the opening period. Boston College began to pull away with Jimmy Hayes' power-play goal early in the second and Joe Whitney's goal a minute later. The Eagles turned it into a lopsided affair with four goals in the third.

"We feel very good about playing Wisconsin on Saturday night, that's for sure," said Boston College coach Jerry York, whose 30th NCAA tournament win tied the career record set by Boston University's Jack Parker.

Boston College is in the championship game for the fourth time in five years and seeks its second title in three seasons and the fourth in school history.

The Frozen Four set a world indoor attendance record for hockey, drawing an announced crowd of 34,954 for the two games.

Ford Field home of the NFL's Detroit Lions was prepared for a record crowd with a rink set up near an end zone and portable seats along the boards opposite the team benches.

The two-game session smashed the Frozen Four attendance record of 19,432 set in St. Louis three years ago and hockey's indoor mark of 28,183 from Tampa Bay's home game at Tropicana Field against Philadelphia during the 1996 NHL playoffs.

Solder, Patriots training staff earn Ed Block Courage Awards

solder-gallery.jpg

Solder, Patriots training staff earn Ed Block Courage Awards

FOXBORO -- Patriots left tackle Nate Solder has been through a lot over the last few years. 

He battled and beat testicular cancer before the 2014 offseason and then went on to help the Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl title. In 2015, he tore his biceps in Week 5 and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve. Just weeks later after suffering that season-ending injury, Solder's son, Hudson, was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor in his kidneys. 

A quiet leader in the Patriots locker room, Solder has used his platform with the team to spread awareness stemming from personal hardships in addition to serving as a prominent supporter of the Hockomock Area YMCA. For his devotion to helping those in need, and for the example he sets at his job and in the community, he has been named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner for 2016. 

Solder also participated in the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative wearing cleats to raise awareness for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which gives financial aid to cancer patients and their families. He also supports The Fresh Truck, which describes itself as a mobile food market on a mission to radically improve community health.

Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker and Tedy Bruschi have also recently been named Ed Block Courage Awards-winners for the Patriots. 

The team's training staff, led by head trainer Jim Whalen and assistant trainer and director of rehabilitation Joe Van Allen, was also honored on Tuesday as it was named the 2016 Ed Block Courage Award NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year.

"The annual award, named for the longtime head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts who demonstrated an untiring dedication to helping others, recognizes an NFL staff for their distinguished service to their club, community and athletic training profession," the Patriots announced in a statement. 

In the release, trainer Daryl Nelson and physical therapist Michael Akinbola are also credited with helping keep the Patriots healthy. 

Others, including head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera and team nutritionist Ted Harper, have a hand in keeping players at their physical peak. Combined, given the overall health of the roster this season, they've all had a hand in keep the team humming as it heads into its sixth consecutive AFC title game.