ALBANY, N.Y. In practice this past week, the Michigan hockey team didn”t have to look very far when preparing for tonight”s NCAA semifinal against Boston College.
Rather, all it had to do was take a long hard look at itself.
“If you look in the mirror of our team you”ll see their team quite a bit too,” Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson said. “It”ll be a good game and we look forward to that in that respect.”
Both Michigan and Boston College are aggressive, offensiveminded teams that are led by a Hobey Baker Award Finalist, and both have a defense that is often overlooked.
“I think they have the same philosophy as we do in many areas,” Pearson said. “We like to play an exciting up-tempo hockey game. It”s both of our styles and at the same time you have to tighten up once you get in the NCAA Tournament.”
A low-scoring game is an irregularity for second-ranked Boston College, who enters the game with the highest-scoring offense in the nation (4.10 goals per game) and is paced by the three-time Hobey Baker Award Finalist Brian Gionta. At 5-foot-7, Gionta may not seem like an imposing figure on the ice, but his crafty puck-handling ability and legendary scoring touch helps him change the course of a game by himself.
“Brian is obviously the leader of this club,” Boston College assistant captain Bobby Allen said. “Some things he does on the ice are impossible for everyone else. He”s very humble and quiet.
“He plays like a guy that”s 6-foot-2, and it seems like he does everything.”
This includes the senior tallying five goals on just five shots in the first period of a game against Maine in late January.
“He”s one of those type of guys you can miss for two periods and all of a sudden, he turns you on and can score three in a hurry,” Pearson said. “He”s very explosive. I think he”s the straw that stirs the drink for that team.”
While the senior and three-time All-American Gionta leads the way, it”s the Eagles” supporting cast that separates them from most teams. Boston College has four lines that can be counted on to score when needed.
Michigan coach Red Berenson regards the Eagles as the “most dangerous team” left in the NCAA Tournament because of their offensive explosiveness. But the caliber of players such as Mike Cammalleri and Hobey Baker Award Finalist Andy Hilbert that the Wolverines go to war with on a daily basis gives the them an advantage when developing a scheme to contain the Eagles” high-powered machine.