BC wins second hockey title in three years


BC wins second hockey title in three years

Associated Press
DETROIT -- The NCAA hockey championship trophy is headed back down Commonwealth Avenue. Ledby goalie John Muse, Boston College won the national title for thesecond time in three years, beating Wisconsin 5-0 in the final of theFrozen Four on Saturday night. Muse made 20 save to improve to 8-0 in tournament play, including the national title run he made as a freshman in 2008. When it was over Muse's teammates tossed their sticks and helmets into the air then swarmed the junior goaltender. "Johnny Muse was clearly on the top of his game," BC coach Jerry York said. BCwon its fourth title and third since 2001, best in the nation over thelast decade. The Eagles' top rival, Boston University, took home thechampionship last year. In college hockey's version of the Duke-NorthCarolina basketball rivalry, BU and BC are located just a few milesaway from each other on the Green Line trolley that runs alongCommonwealth Avenue. This championship for Muse came almost a year after hip surgery, and the grueling rehabilitation that followed. "There wasn't much pain, but it was long and tedious," he said. "I did it for these guys. I wanted to be back." Cam Atkinson scored two of the Eagles' four third-period goals to back Muse. Atkinson's first and Chris Krieder's goal came 2:02 apart early in the period and turned a one-goal game into a rout. "We wanted to attack and be aggressive," York said. "We don't like to sit back and change our style of play with the score." That mindset has helped put York in elite company with four national titles, including one with Bowling Green. Justtwo coaches have more championships - Michigan's Vic Heyliger won sixfrom 1948-56 and Denver's Murray Armstrong had five from 1958-1969 -and no one has more than York's 33 wins in the NCAA tournament. "I'vebeen at it a long time, so that helps," York said at the end of his38th season as a head coach, and 16th leading the Eagles. "It's alwaysgood to coach good teams and good players, and I've had a whole bunchof those." Wisconsin beat the Eagles in the2006 finals for its sixth title, but didn't have much of a shot to stopBC's faster forwards, swarming defensemen and stellar goalie in therematch. "We got near the top of the mountain, but we weren't able to stick the flag at the top," Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. Wisconsinforward Blake Geoffrion, grandson of Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie "BoomBoom" Geoffrion, was shut down a day after winning the Hobey BakerAward as college hockey's top player. Geoffrionscored 28 goals this season to help Wisconsin enter the game with anation-high 171 goals - averaging four a game - but he and histeammates struggled to get pucks and bodies near the net to make Musesweat. "They did a good job of blocking shots and collapsing down low," Geoffrion said. BenSmith, who won the most outstanding player award for the tournament,got BC's good night started with a goal 12:57 into the game. After a scoreless second, the Eagles proved they weren't content to just sit back and play conservatively. Atkinsonstarted the flurry in the third and Matt Price finished it with anempty-net goal with 4:31 left while Scott Gudmandson was pulled brieflyto add an extra skater. Gudmandson made 21 saves. A world indoor attendance record was set for hockey with a crowd of 37,592 at the home of the NFL's Detroit Lions. Wisconsin'sMichael Davies had chances to score and perhaps could've blame the iceconditions for taking away his best opportunity in the second periodwhen he whiffed on a breakaway after the puck bounced over his stick. "It was soft, but both teams had to play on it," Eaves said. Thegames at Ford Field will be remembered for record crowds and routs thatmatched the Frozen Four record of 18 for goal differential set in 1961. Anannounced crowd of 34,954 for Thursday's two-game session smashed theFrozen Four record of 19,432 fans set in St. Louis three years ago andhockey's indoor mark of 28,183 from Tampa Bay's home game at TropicanaField against Philadelphia during the 1996 NHL playoffs. BCstunned top-seeded Miami of Ohio 7-1 and Wisconsin routed RochesterInstitute of Technology 8-1 to advance to a game that was expected tobe competitive. The Eagles had other ideas,shutting out Wisconsin in another lopsided game that excited only fortheir fans in a football stadium that had a rink set up near an endzone.

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, MASS -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all.