ALBANY, N.Y. After a season of triumph and trial, the question surrounding the Michigan hockey team last night was not whether they would play with the passion of a championship team, but if it would be enough.
On this night, it wasn”t.
Boston College ended the Wolverines” hopes of a national title last night, by the score of 4-2, in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinal at Pepsi Arena.
The Eagles out-shot, out-hit, out-hustled and finally, out-played Michigan in the opening 20 minutes of the game. The Wolverines fought back to within a goal, but as senior captain Geoff Koch said afterward, “It was too little, too late.”
In the game”s first five minutes, Boston College unleashed a ferocious attack upon the Wolverines, characterized by a number of golden, in-close opportunities and bone-jarring checks by the Eagles.
Boston College”s offensive fervor culminated just after the halfway point of the first period. At the 10:06 mark, Tony Voce streaked down the far-side boards on another Boston College rush and centered the puck to freshman Chuck Kobasew, who slid the puck underneath Michigan netminder Josh Blackburn for a 1-0 lead.
The first goal failed to wake Michigan up out of its first period slumber, and the Eagles capitalized again less than five minutes later.
With Mike Komisarek in the penalty box for roughing, Boston College”s Bobby Allen let go a wrister from the far-side point that deflected off teammate Ben Eaves in front of the net, beating a screened Blackburn over his glove hand. The powerplay goal gave the Eagles a convincing two-goal lead.
“It was the pressure of being in the Frozen Four I don”t know if we were focused,” senior forward Josh Langfeld said. “You can”t do that against a potent offense like Boston College.”
At the first period”s halfway point, the Eagles had outshot the Wolverines 7-3. Boston College went on to claim a 14-10 advantage after the first period.
Blackburn faced 12 shots in the opening period, while Boston College goalie Scott Clemmensen steered away all 10 that he saw. But while Clemmensen was stopping futile, long-distance shots from the wing, the Eagles set up in front of Blackburn at least half a dozen times for doorstep chances.
The junior netminder continued to carry his team in the second but simply couldn”t plug all the holes on Michigan”s penalty kill, as the Eagles again capitalized with the extra man, this time courtesy of none other than Kobasew.
Much like his first goal, Kobasew snuck in behind the Michigan defense and slid the puck under Blackburn for what looked like a 3-0, slam-the-door lead at the 11:38 mark of the second period.
The Wolverines quickly responded with a goal from John Shouneyia at the 12:24 mark, trimming the lead back to two goals. The sophomore placed a perfect backhander over the right shoulder of Clemmensen to buy back a little momentum.
With 5:45 left in the second, Andy Hilbert skated in alone on Clemmensen and missed on a backhander over the top of the goal. The missed opportunity would haunt Michigan for although Mike Cammalleri scored with a little over five minutes gone by in the third period to cut the lead to 3-2, the Wolverines couldn”t match the quality of Hilbert”s chance to tie the game.
Eaves clinched the Eagles” third championship game appearance in four years with an empty-netter at the 19:40-mark after Blackburn was lifted seconds earlier.
“Our team had a lot of goals this year, and we didn”t reach very many of them,” coach Red Berenson said. “I thought our team really refocused in the playoffs and made the most our season. The team gave it everything they had.”