By Derek Berry
DETROIT – The Boston College Eagles captured the 2010 NCAA Hockey Championship, shutting down the high-powered offense of the University of Wisconsin Badgers 5-0, in front of an indoor world-record crowd of 37,592 at Ford Field.
It was the first shutout in an NCAA Championship game since the University of Denver defeated the University of Maine 1-0 in Boston in 2004.
While this year’s Frozen Four contests were all unmemorable blowouts, the Boston College Eagles will long remember how thoroughly they dominated the Badgers in Saturday’s national title game. The Eagles stymied the second-leading scoring team in the nation.
BC got two big third period goals from sophomore forward Cam Atkinson, a Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick and freshman forward Chris Krieder (New York Rangers) en route to shocking a talented Wisconsin squad consisting of 10 NHL draft picks.
“Wisconsin is the best team we’ve played all year and it was a very hard win for us to get,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “Our team was terrific. Good defensive zone play. Very sharp. We worked hard and were very disciplined.”
With the win, BC captured its fourth national title in school history and the third under York in the past 10 years
Much of the Eagles’ success can be contributed to how they limited the talented Badgers to only a few scoring chances. In fact, Wisconsin only had 20 shots on goal and much of the reason was Boston College’s defense, goaltending and transition play.
“Whenever we didn’t do a good job, John (BC junior goaltender John Muse) was there to back us up,” said Ben Smith, Eagles senior forward and Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, who scored the game’s first goal in the first period, which wound up being the game-winner.
Even Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves, who was trying to help the Badgers win their seventh national championship and second under his leadership in the past four seasons, agreed.
“They played a very good game and deserved to win,” said Eaves who had two sons play hockey for Jerry York at BC – Ben and Patrick Eaves. “We never got that goal in the third period to change the game. They blocked a lot of shots, transitioned down low and got good chances.”
Hobey Baker winner Blake Geoffrion of Wisconsin, one of the many notable Badgers stopped cold in this contest, echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“Their defense did a good job blocking shots,” he said. “We’re disappointed in our play today.”
The Badgers defeated the Eagles in the 2006 national championship, but tonight it was Boston College that exacted revenge on the Badgers.
Wisconsin got an early power play opportunity in the contest, but had only a small chance. BC did a good job blocking shots right off the bat and protected Muse, while slowly taking complete control of the game.
The Eagles drew first blood on the Badgers on a power play tally from Smith, who got a nice pass in front of the net and fired it five-hole on Wisconsin junior goaltender Scott Gudmandson to make it 1-0.
The Badgers finished the first period with only five shots on goal, but had a couple of glorious chances to tie the game or even go ahead. BC goaltender Muse was right there, along with the Eagles stingy defense.
BC senior forward Matt Price said Muse, who is 8-0 all time in NCAA tournament games, has been a rock behind the Eagles defense all season.
“A ton of momentum is generated from the back end,” said Price, who scored an empty net goal to officially finish off the Badgers. “There was a lot of positive energy all night, every time Johnny (Muse) made a big save.”
Midway through the second period that stingy defensive, tight checking system continued to cause a lot of problems for Wisconsin. Muse made a good arm save on a Badger rebound shot and then Wisconsin senior forward Michael Davies, the Badgers leading scorer in the regular season, had a wide open net and tried to bury it top shelf, but couldn’t get a handle on a bouncing puck.
Muse was humble about his solid tournament netminding effort, in which he saw most everything coming at him.
“We got tremendous back pressure from our defense and forwards all game long,” said Muse, who only allowed one goal through the entire tournament. “I can’t take the credit really.”
Muse made another save shortly after that when Geoffrion was wide open in the slot.
Davies had another great chance late in the second period as he broke in on Muse, but appeared to fan on the shot as a BC defenseman gave chase. It was a sign of what would continue to be a troubling night for the Badgers.
In the third period, Boston College broke the Badgers’ backs. Two quick goals before the period was five minutes old made it 3-0. The second Eagles goal came on a two-on-one break up the ice with BC’s Atkinson going five-hole again on Gudmandson.
Not long after that, the Eagles stunned the Badgers when they aggressively crashed the net, after breaking up the ice again. Krieder knocked in a loose rebound in front of the goal and Wisconsin was just about finished.
“We had a great journey,” said Geoffrion, grandson of the late Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion. “A great run with these guys. When we look back we should be proud of ourselves.”
While the ice surface in the NFL home of the Detroit Lions was less than perfect (described as soft and slow by some of the coaches and players), Eaves pointed out that both teams had to play on it.
And both teams also had experience playing in larger venues and on similar ice surfaces. The Badgers played in Lambeau Field in 2006, beating Ohio State and this past February on campus at the football stadium – Camp Randall Stadium – defeating Michigan.
Boston College also played outside this season in a baseball stadium – Boston’s Fenway Park – in January. The Eagles lost that game to crosstown rival Boston University, the defending national champion.
York notched his 850th career win, serving as head coach with the Eagles, Bowling Green and Clarkson. He is currently the winningest active coach in college hockey and sits behind former Michigan State coach Ron Mason in career wins. Mason retired with 924…
Boston College won the last meeting with Wisconsin in Chestnut Hill, Mass., in October 2008. The same night, ironically, the Eagles raised their 2008 national championship banner…
Both teams had played in Detroit in the past in the NCAA Frozen Four. The Badgers have won two titles on Detroit ice: 1977 at Olympia Stadium, the Red Wings original home and then again in 1990 at the Joe Louis Arena. BC played in Detroit in ’85, ’90 and now 2010. The Eagles lost to eventual champion Wisconsin in the 1990 semifinals at ‘The Joe.’ BC captured its first championship in Detroit with this win…
The three Frozen Four tournament games featured an 18-goal differential, which tied the all-time mark set back in 1961…
All three tournament games in this year’s Frozen Four were decided by five or more goals, a new record…
The two-day tournament attendance total of 72,546 was also an NCAA Frozen Four record…
A team from the city of Boston has won the NCAA Men’s Division I Ice Hockey Championship three years running. Boston College won the title in 2008; Boston University in 2009 and now the Eagles hold the crown again in 2010…
ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM
F – Cam Atkinson – Boston College
F- Ben Smith – Boston College
F- Joe Whitney – Boston College
D- Brendan Smith – Wisconsin
D- Brian Dumoulin – Boston College
G- John Muse – Boston College
MVP – Ben Smith-F – Boston College
Derek Berry is a freelance writer for TheHockeyNews.com and covers the CCHA as a freelance writer for Michigan Hockey Magazine.