Boston College senior assistant captain Bobby Allen cannot even bear to watch the tape.
Just three years ago, his Eagles were six minutes away from a national title. With his team holding a 2-1 lead over upstart Michigan the defenseman could smell victory and could feel a championship ring forming on his fingers.
But then it started to slip away, one bounce at a time.
With 6:16 remaining in the third period, Michigan freshman Mark Kosick tallied a rebound goal to tie the game at 2 and turn the tide of momentum.
Then, with just 4:36 left, Allen had to leave the game after re-injuring his right shoulder, which forced the freshman to sit out the rest of regulation and the ensuing overtime period.
Allen watched helplessly as two of his teammates hit the post and crossbar in the extra session before Josh Langfeld scored the game-winning goal and sent the Eagles home empty-handed.
Adding salt to Allen”s wounds was the fact that the prior year his senior year at Cushing Academy his season was ended by a player who would beat him again in the NCAA title game Michigan”s Geoff Koch, who played for Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
But it is Allen”s vivid memory of the 1998 title game that adds a twist to the Eagles” Frozen Four matchup with Michigan this Thursday in Albany, NY
“We still remember it like it was yesterday,” Allen said. “A lot of us just can”t watch that tape. It gives us a little extra motivation to beat Michigan and end their season like they ended ours.”
While Allen said the loss was the “lowest point he”s ever had as a hockey player,” his senior class has experienced that empty feeling at the conclusion of the past two seasons as well.
Although the Eagles” seniors comprise the winningest class in school history, registering 115 wins since the 1997-98 season, they have fallen short when it matters most, going 0-2 in NCAA championship games.
In addition, the Boston College seniors are the first class to make it to four consecutive Frozen Fours since the 1998 Michigan seniors, who won two national titles. Still, Allen said the Eagles are feeling the urgency to finally win a national title.
“We”re very hungry,” said Allen, who was recently honored as Hockey East”s best defensive-defenseman. “We”ve had a lot of disappointment in the NCAA tournament. It”s great to make it four times, but not to come out with anything leaves a sour taste in our mouth.
“We”re really attacking this one with a sense of urgency, because there”s no more last chances for us.”
The Eagles” senior class has saved its best for last, leading Boston College to a school-record 31 wins including victories in eight of its last nine games heading into its national semifinal matchup with Michigan.
Boston College boasts a three-time Hobey Baker Award finalist in senior center Brian Gionta, who was deemed the “most dynamic, and exciting player in the country” by coach Jerry York.
But Gionta is just one spark in the nation”s most explosive offense. Six Eagles have scored over 30 points this season, including two freshman.
With such an even matchup between the two teams on Thursday, there”s a good chance that the game may be decided by a fickle bounce of the puck, much like the 1998 NCAA championship game.
“You need to be good this time of year to put yourself in this situation,” Michigan associate coach Mel Pearson said. “But at the same time, to play against good teams and to put a string of wins together, you need some luck on your side.”
“And we feel pretty lucky this year,” he added with a smile.”