March 29, 2004
MANCHESTER, N.H. — All season long, when the Michigan
hockey team was playing at its best, its opponent was irrelevant.
The Wolverines would win faceoffs, control the puck and outshoot
their opponents. That was their formula for success Saturday in the
first round of the NCAA Tournament when Michigan cruised past host
New Hampshire 4-1.
But last night, in their 3-2 overtime loss to Boston College in
the Northeast Regional final, the Wolverines discovered how those
teams felt: Even with their best effort, they were ultimately
overwhelmed by a more talented opponent.
Michigan held 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but in the end, the
Eagles’ unyielding pressure was too much for the Wolverines.
Forward Patrick Eaves tied the score with less than five minutes
left in the third period, and his brother and linemate, captain Ben
Eaves, batted in a rebound 10:08 into overtime to send the Eagles
(29-8-4) back home to Boston, this year’s host of the Frozen
Four. The Wolverines finished the season 27-14-2, and did not make
the Frozen Four for the first time in four years.
Michigan made it into overtime thanks in large part to
goaltender Al Montoya, who saved a career-high 42 shots and was
named to the regional’s All-Tournament team (along with
defenseman Andy Burnes and winger Brandon Kaleniecki). The
Wolverines were outshot 45-17 and lost 46 of 76 faceoffs.
“He’s an unbelievable goalie,” said Patrick
Eaves, who played with Montoya on the U.S. team at the World Junior
Championships in December. “I don’t know how to
describe how he plays. He’s always there anticipating.
He’s a terrific goalie because of it.”
Most of the game was spent in the Wolverines’ zone, as
they had trouble getting the puck out of their side of the ice
throughout the game.
“They forechecked us hard — real hard,”
forward Eric Nystrom said. “They were real aggressive and we
weren’t moving the puck quick enough. Their forwards were
fast and crafty. That’s why they’re heading where they
In the second period the Eagles were down 1-0 and had a pair of
powerplays. On their second opportunity, they evened the score. Ben
Eaves took a puck from behind the net and passed to Tony Voce, who
was right at Montoya’s left side. Montoya was looking the
wrong way, and Voce easily batted the puck into the net.
But as the period was winding down, Michigan retook the lead,
and the goal came from the last player the team looks to for goals:
its senior captain, Burnes, who had just two assists and no goals
all season, until yesterday’s game.
Kaltianinen left the net the net to get a loose puck, and though
he deflected it away, he fell to the ice and failed to make it
back. Brown got the loose puck along the boards and flung it
towards the crease, where Eagles’ defenseman J.D. Forrest
stopped it and attempted to clear it. The rebound came to Burnes in
front of the blueline, and he slapped the puck back towards a
virtually unguarded net for his first and only goal of the
Michigan’s play improved as the game wore on, and for
nearly half the third period Michigan had its best chances of the
game, but Kaltianinen turned away the Wolverines down the
“(In) the third period we had our chances,” Berenson
said. “(Jeff) Tambellini has a breakaway at 2-1, (David) Moss
has a breakaway when it’s 2-1 and we didn’t
Boston College’s top line struck again with under five
minutes to go in the third period. Off a faceoff in the
Wolverines’ zone, Voce sent the puck out to Peter Harrold,
who one-timed a shot from the point. Montoya made a kick save going
to his right, but Patrick Eaves corralled the rebound and
backhanded the puck over Montoya’s right leg.
Both teams had chances in the overtime. Michigan had five shots
in the period, which equaled the most it had in any other period.
Just five minutes into overtime, Michigan’s line of T.J.
Hensick, David Rohlfs and Tambellini got shots on net with
Kaltiainen out of position, but he just got a piece of a shot, and
then J.D. Forrest cleared a puck that was sitting right at the goal
Just before Ben Eaves scored the game-winner, Tambellini and
Hensick had a 2-on-1, but Hensick was unable to get the one-timer
Eaves scored the game-winner off of another rebound. Patrick
Eaves fired a shot from the boards, and the rebound again went to
Montoya’s right. Montoya saved the first rebound shot, but
Patrick’s brother, Ben, batted the rebound out of
Ben had just cramped up in his quadriceps and was on the verge
of going to the locker room before deciding to try to give it one
Though the Eagles are deep and all four lines successfully put
pressure on Michigan, their first line did most of their
“Their best players were their best players
tonight,” Berenson said. “That was the one thing we
couldn’t nullify. They scored all their goals — they
certainly had most of their chances.”