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Ryan Lambert

BC blanks Wisconsin; York leads Eagles to fourth NCAA title

Ryan Lambert
Puck Daddy

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It's time to say it.

There is no better coach in the history of NCAA Division 1 college hockey than Boston College's Jerry York. The numbers speak for themselves.

With last night's 5-0 blowout over Wisconsin in the national title game, he secured his fourth national title, and third in the last 10 seasons. At 850 wins, he's closing in on all-time coaching wins leader Ron Mason's career mark of 924 and will almost certainly pass it in the next three seasons. He has 25 wins or more in 19 of his 38 seasons, and in all but one since 2004.

Upon arriving at BC, his alma mater, in 1994, he took just three seasons to go from 11 wins to 28, and turn a mediocre, underperforming program into a national powerhouse.

Tonight's game showcased why. He has a blueprint for building a team that ensures postseason domination like no coach in the last 50 years. Almost all of his forwards are small, smart, skilled and capable of breaking the sound barrier on the rush. Almost all of his defensemen are mountainous, reliable and Eli Wallach-mean. And as for the goalie, well, just plug in anyone you want.

John Muse picked up the shutout, making 20 saves, but he said it best in a postgame interview on ESPN (I'm paraphrasing here): "It's pretty easy when the team puts up five goals." And when you have an architect like Jerry York putting that team together, you're going to win far more often than not.

Indeed, the junior goaltender improved to 8-0 all-time in the NCAA tournament and 17-1 in all playoffs, and if you looked at his numbers in this postseason, you wouldn't exactly be bowled over at 2.68/.897. But with a Jerry York team, all any goalie ever has to be is adequate. Because everyone else, hoo boy, they're excellent.

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Those lightning-quick forwards? They picked up all four of BC's goals that didn't go into an empty net just by turning on the jets. Ben Smith opened the scoring at 12:57 of the first period because he got into empty space at the top of the slot so quickly it was like he teleported there. One nifty slap pass from Steve Whitney and a wrister later, and BC had the lead it never surrendered.

The score held through two periods until Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick Cam Atkinson blew past Cody Goloubef in Wisconsin's attacking zone and snuck a backhander through Scott Gudmandson's five-hole early in the third period. New York Rangers' first-rounder Chris Kreider extended the lead 2:02 later on another high-speed, blink-and-you-missed it rush, and Atkinson put BC up 4-0 3:40 after Kreider's goal.

And just like that, in 5:42, the game went from conceivable nail-biter to BC's second absurd blowout in three nights. I say conceivable because Wisconsin, with its second-in-the-country offense, could have managed one, two, or maybe even three goals in the final 20 minutes, but this wasn't the Wisconsin team that eviscerated RIT in the semis or the one that bullied Vermont and St. Cloud in the regionals. This was a less-composed Wisconsin, one that was very clearly bothered by something.

That something, of course, was those titanic BC defensemen. In the preview for this game, I likened Hobey Baker winner Blake Geoffrion's playing style to a rodeo bull. Well, Philip Samuelsson and Carl Sneep saddled up and rode him into the ground. He, along with every other Wisconsin forward, was getting clobbered (legally or otherwise, it went uncalled just the same) at every turn by a BC defensive corps that averages 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds, even with 5-10/170 Patch Alber in the lineup. In short, those are some big hombres that found any of the Badgers' ability or even desire to win the game, and beat it out of them.

And with that impressive national title game, York's boys, who trailed for exactly 55 seconds over their last 13 games this season, cemented their coach's legacy as the best to ever stand behind a college bench. Since 1998, York has guided the Eagles to 11 NCAA tournaments, and has only failed to make the Frozen Four in two of those. What's more, he's advanced to the national title game seven times, winning three. In 13 seasons.

For this group, it's their second national title in three years, and they only had four seniors on the roster. Four seniors, by the way, who won 101 of their 165 games, and tied 17 more. Four seniors who played in three national title games, won three Hockey East championships, two Beanpots and all but one of their 12 NCAA tournament games.

Those four seniors are done at Boston College, but the good news for Eagles fans is that York isn't. He's got a hell of a lot more winning to do.

THREE STARS

1. Cam Atkinson, Boston College

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You score two third-period goals in a national title game and you're going to get a lot of well-deserved credit, but these were highlight-reel goals, and goals that just happened to catapult both BC to a national title and Atkinson to the national lead in goalscoring. The way he threw it into like 75th gear on his second goal was a thing of beauty. I think one defenseman tried to put a body on his vapor trail on that one.

2. Joe Whitney, Boston College

Three assists and a whole lot of shift-disturbing, pretty good night. The setups weren't bad, and in fact that slap pass to Smith for the opener was downright pretty, but the pestering was a thing to behold if you're into that sort of thing. He was whistled for three of BC's four penalties, including one very clear attempt to low-bridge Geoffrion, who was already nursing some sort of lower-body injury after a low hit in the RIT game. But hey, it pissed the Hobey winner off and pretty well shook him from his game, so that's got to be worth at least a goal, right?

3. John Muse, Boston College

As it so often happens with big games for BC, Muse was never called upon to be spectacular. But if you shut out the No. 2 scoring offense in the country and win your eighth NCAA game in as many tries, and pick up your second NCAA title as a junior, you had a pretty decent night for yourself.

Ryan Lambert covers NCAA hockey for Puck Daddy. You can e-mail him here if you want, but you should definitely follow him on Twitter.

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