In which we recap the day's events in the NCAA tournament.
At some point there has to be a way for Boston College to start playing in a higher league's postseason. The NCAAs are just for fun at this point.
The Eagles, led by yet another sterling goaltending performance from Parker Milner, got past Ferris State 4-1 in a game that was much closer than the scoreline would leave you to believe. In doing so, it won its fifth national title, fourth since 2001, third since 2008, and second in the last three years.
This has all become incredibly boring for college hockey fans. BC makes the tournament, and about a month later, BC wins the national title. You can pretty much set your watch to it.
Ferris, for its part, entered this game the heavy underdog, and most people (like me) believed this would be a pretty easy rout for the Eagles — a 60-minute victory lap against an admirable but inferior team. And though it conceded on an uncharacteristic defensive zone lapse just 3:18 into the game, giving the affair all the pallor of a death march for a moment, it quickly showed that it would not be broken so easily.
The Bulldogs actually ran most of the first period, but as with Minnesota on Thursday, found that being the better team through 20 against the baptized-by-fire Eagles doesn't guarantee you enter the intermission with a lead. And indeed, though Garrett Thompson evened things for Ferris just 121 seconds after BC opened the scoring,
Ferris made the fatal mistake of giving BC a power play. Though it only got off one shot during that man advantage, Paul Carey made it count, netting the eventual game-winner at 10:33 of the first period. At that point, though, everyone tightened their chin straps.
The remaining 49:27 of the game was straight-jacket tight and prison-yard physical, with neither team willing to concede an inch in their defensive ends and both settling in for the kind of trench warfare you might have seen in the NHL prior to the lockout (or y'know, today).
There were big-time hits, and even as Barry Melrose bemoaned the death of the hip check, two textbook examples of everything such a hit should be were laid out by Ferris State. BC sniper Chris Kreider -- who should sign his contract with the New York Rangers right around the time I type this -- drilled Ferris' No. 2 D Scott Czarnowczan with a big bodycheck that just happened to be a little knee-on-knee. Czarnowczan didn't return for the third period.
The game moved in ebbs and flows, with each team taking control for a bit and then slowly sinking back toward evenness before the other took a try at besting the opposing goalie. However, both Milner and Ferris' Taylor Nelson were spectacular, each stopping a number of Grade-A opportunities that would likely have gone in were they against lesser netminders.
But as the contest wore on, it seemed less and less likely that either was going to score, and that suited Ferris not at all. The Eagles entered the game 24-0-1 when leading through two periods, its only blown lead coming against Merrimack in January.
Ferris, meanwhile, was just 1-8-1 when trailing through two periods.
BC continued to put a stranglehold on the game and indeed its grip on any other team's claim to "best program in the country" in the third period, at one point outshooting Ferris 10-3 not-so-late in what should have been a desperate final act. Flames fourth-rounder Johnny Gaudreau put the game on ice with a positively ridiculous individual effort, deking through a defenseman's legs and going backhand shelf to the opposite side, extending BC's lead to 3-1 with only 3:02 to play.
Ferris had scored just one goal in the previous 57 minutes or so and BC coach Jerry York wasn't about to let his charges lose their heads or their focus in the final three. Though FSU coach Bob Daniels pulled Nelson with 1:40 to go, Milner and BC's defense were stalwart. The Bulldogs were only able to attempt one shot, and it was blocked, in the 37 seconds with the extra skater before Steven Whitney scored into an empty net from the far side of the rink.
This win was the Eagles' 19th in a row, and during that stretch, they outscored their opponents 77-21. That's 4.05 goals per game for and a dizzying 1.11 goals against. During the NCAA tournament itself, BC allowed just two goals, both in the Frozen Four, on 110 shots.
What we have here is a terrifying hockey power rising out of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, masterminded by York in a way that doesn't seem particularly fair to the other 57 teams participating. They entered the tournament, and every game they played, as heavy favorites, and dispatched each opponent with relative ease, just as it has done in every game since Jan. 27.
The headline of the Puck Daddy preview for the NCAA tournament asked, "Can anyone stop Boston College?" And the answer, somewhat predictably, was "no."
1. Parker Milner, Boston College goaltender
What more needs to be said about a kid who didn't even have the starting job for BC as of late January? He was everything a goalie can be in this game, the Frozen Four, the NCAA tournament and the back half of the season. He made 27 saves on 28 shots in this, his 19th consecutive start. So many top-quality saves that kept BC ahead when things looked like they could have tipped in Ferris' favor. What a performance.
2. Taylor Nelson, Ferris State goaltender
Yes, Nelson gave up three goals on 36 shots, but it could have been a lot uglier, and really, none of those BC tallies were in any way his fault. The first came because of a D-zone turnover and his teammates losing a BC forward at the side of the net. The second was a tip right out front on the power play. The third was an unstoppable shot on an unstoppable move. He was great Thursday, he was great tonight. He's not the reason Ferris lost. He just ran into a buzzsaw.
3. Paul Carey, Boston College forward
Carey's goal — the aforementioned tipped-in shot from the top of the circles — was the game-winner and obviously that is important, but more to the point, he was great in all three zones. The Colorado Avalanche seventh-rounder forced more than a few turnovers, blocked a shot, won a couple draws. Just a strong all-around game. And also that game-winner. That too.