It seems as though it’s become an almost annual occurrence that Boston College is in the Frozen Four. Since 1998, the Eagles have made it to college hockey’s final weekend nine times. This is BC’s fifth Frozen Four appearance in the last seven years. One thing you can always expect out of Boston College? Championship-level hockey.
BC is currently riding a stunning 17-game winning streak that dates back to January. Annually stocked with blue-chip recruits and NHL prospects, the Eagles are looking like a well-oiled machine right now. Earlier in the year, I opined that college hockey was devoid of any truly elite teams this year. Boston College kicked that argument right to the curb, shaking off a bit of an inconsistent start and beating the pants off of just about everyone.
Thursday night, BC will run into Minnesota’s high-powered offense, pitting two of the nation’s traditional best against each other. With the chance to play for the national title on Saturday, it should be an absolute dog fight. These two clubs will have a big stage at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2.
Winning Nothing New to York
It seems as though all Jerry York does is win. With more than 900 career victories in a head coaching career that spans now 40 years, York will go down as one of the all-time great coaches in college athletics, not just hockey.
Every year BC attracts and develops NHL prospects and sends them off to great careers in the league. Because of that sparkling track record, BC doesn’t really have to recruit so much as reload. Every year the team is competing for a national title.
Next year, it is likely York will surpass Ron Mason as the all-time winningest coach in college hockey. This year, York has a chance to collect his fourth national title at Boston College and fifth overall. He also led Bowling Green to a national crown in 1984.
In 18 years at Boston College, which is also York’s Alma mater, he has led the Eagles to the Frozen Four nine times (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012).
Getting to this stage has become an annual expectation for BC.
Hey Everyone! BC’s Goin’ Streaking
In the seventeen games since January 27, the eagles have racked up seventeen wins. Most of the games haven’t even been close.
It’s rare to see such a dominant streak this late in the season. In the most heated weekends of the season, with teams fighting for positioning and tournament berths, upsets are usually the norm. Not against this team.
In the last 11 games of the streak, which included Hockey East playoffs and the NCAA regionals, the Eagles have allowed just eight goals. Junior netminder Parker Milner has collected three shutouts. He would have had more, but head coach Jerry York sent in senior Chris Venti for mop-up duty a few times, as BC has five total team shutouts during the streak.
Milner collected two of his three shutouts during the regionals as the Eagles have yet to allow a single goal in NCAA Tournament play this year. Milner made 20 stops against Air Force in a 2-0 win, and posted 33 saves in a 4-0 blanking of defending champion Minnesota Duluth in helping the Eagles clinch the Northeast region.
The Eagles have outscored opponents 67-19 over the last 17 games. Simply dominant.
The toughest test since the streak began lies ahead though. Minnesota and it’s high-octane offense will give Milner and the Eagles all they can handle.
Dumoulin Doin’ It Well
Chris Krieder and Johnny Gaudreau have gotten a lot of the attention as two of the most exciting players in college hockey right now, but perhaps neither is as important to the success of Boston College as Brian Dumoulin.
Dumoulin, a Hobey Baker top-10 finalist, is the anchor of BC’s dynamic defense. With a strong two-way game, Dumoulin used to be thought of as an offense-first defenseman. However, three years of college hockey, under the tutelage of Jerry York and his staff, has rounded out Dumoulin’s game.
With each year, Dumoulin became more difficult to play against in his own zone. Never a bruising defenseman, but more physical than he’s been in the past. His strong skating ability, to go with physical strength has turned Dumoulin into one of the most reliable rearguarads in college hockey.
Perhaps that’s why Dumoulin’s point production went down from his sophomore season. Last year, Dumoulin posted 33 points, fourth most on the team. This year, Dumoulin has 26 points.
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Dumoulin looks like a pro on the ice. Perhaps he will be soon. The Carolina Hurricanes took him 51st overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and with each passing year it looks like that was a steal. Though he may need a little AHL seasoning before jumping into the NHL, he has all the makings of a long-term pro.
Players to Watch
Chris Kreider — Having a career year as a Junior, Kreider is proving he made the right choice to come back to school. A first-round pick of the New York Rangers, Kreider was offered contracts by the big club after each of his first two seasons. Feeling he wasn’t ready to make the jump, Kreider stayed and put up 43 points, 19 more than his previous personal best, and eclipsed 20 goals for the first time in his college career. One of the fastest skaters not currently in the NHL, Kreider has great size to boot. This is likely the last time we’ll see Kreider in the maroon and gold, so expect him to try to go out with a bang.
Johnny Gaudreau — Averaging nearly a point-per-game as a freshman, Gaudreau has wowed just about everyone in his first college season. With 41 points including 20 goals, Gaudreau has become an elite threat for Jerry York’s club. Despite his small stature, Gaudreau can score from just about anywhere, thanks to his tremendous puck skills and vision. He’s as exciting as anyone to watch with the puck on his stick.
Brian Dumoulin — See above.
Barry Almeida — Tied with Kreider for the team lead with 22 goals, Almeida had his breakout year as a senior. His previous personal high was eight goals as a junior. Clearly, his experience and development has all helped lead the diminutive scorer to a career year. At 5-8, 175, Almeida has good speed and improved touch around the net. Almeida has been deadly on the power play as well with 11 goals on the man-advantage, tied for most in the country. He’s undrafted, but should get a fair amount of free agent looks in the offseason.
Parker Milner — After two years of sitting behind John Muse, Milner made the most of his first full-time starting role as a junior. Milner actually put up a lower goals-against average this year than Muse had during his stellar BC career. The stats speak for themselves, as Milner posted a 27-5-0 record, 1.70 GAA, and .935 save percentage. Milner was particularly stingy during the regional. So stingy, he didn’t allow a goal. With a great defense and a great goaltender, it’s going to be tough to score even for the most gifted off offenses.
Patrick Wey — Overshadowed quite a bit by Brian Dumoulin, Patrick Wey is a steady-as-they-come defenseman, who can bring the physical game when needed. Wey is a big ole, 6-2, 200-pund Dman and skates pretty well. He’s not always the most noticeable guy on the ice, but that might tell you a thing or two about how he goes about his business. He keeps it simple. Wey was a fourth-round pick by the Capitals in 2009.
Boston College By The Numbers
Goals For: 147 (3.5 per game)
Goals Against: 87 (2.1 per game)
Power Play: 39/180 (21.7%)
Penalty Kill: 162/184 (88%)
Offensive Leaders: Chris Kreider (22-21–43), Johnny Gaudreau (20-21–41), Barry Almeida (22-16–38)
Class Breakdown: Seniors – 6; Juniors – 8; Sophomores – 4; Freshmen – 9
NHL Draft Picks: 9
In order of overall selection:
Chris Kreider (NYR, 1st Rd., 19th overall, 2009)
Kevin Hayes (CHI, 1st Rd., 24th overall, 2010)
Tommy Cross (BOS, 2nd Rd., 35th overall, 2007)
Brian Dumoulin (CAR, 2nd Rd., 51st overall, 2009)
Johnny Gaudreau (CGY, 4th Rd., 104th overall, 2011)
Bill Arnold (CGY, 4th Rd., 108th overall, 2010)
Patrick Wey (WSH, 4th Rd., 115th overall, 2009)
Paul Carey (COL, 5th Rd., 135th overall, 2007)
Isaac MacLeod (SJS, 5th Rd., 136th overall, 2010)
How They Got To Tampa
Northeast Regional Champions
Regional Semi: Defeated Air Force — 2-0
Regional Final: Defeated Minnesota Duluth — 4-0
For more Frozen Four info, including storylines, notes, stats and more, visit College Hockey, Inc.