Boston College is a team that thrives on the big stage. After dominating Miami 7-1 in their semifinal contest, the Eagles now sit just one win away from bringing their fourth national title back to Chestnut Hill.
BC and Wisconsin are ready to tango on Saturday night in Detroit. BC's last title came in 2008, while Wisconsin last won in 2006, trumping BC in the national championship.
After both teams steamrolled their competition during Thursday night’s Frozen Four semifinal contests — the Badgers beat RIT 8-1 –it is clear that each squad boasts a powerful offense, and when the two meet on Saturday, it will be a battle of the finest and most explosive teams in college hockey.
BC’s experience, depth and versatility are quite possibly even more dangerous than the team that won it all two years ago. BC has been the only team to sustain a perfect 7-0 postseason record and accomplish the remarkable feat of making its fourth Frozen Four appearance in five years.
The Eagles' journey through the course of this season has been a steady climb and they certainly reached the peak of their game when it mattered the most. They have continuously found ways to raise their level of play — especially in the playoffs — and now have just one team standing between them and national glory.
Jerry York’s Eagles appear to be reaping the benefits of rounding out their game towards the end of the season.
"We feel as a staff that our sport is like basketball now," York said. "We’ve become a tournament sport. I don’t know who wins the Pac 10 or the Big East anymore in basketball, but you know who wins the national championship."
With one hurdle left for BC to climb, earning another championship isn’t about to be a stroll in the park.
The Badgers proved their ability to match the Eagles in nearly every category after their offensive explosion against RIT. They maintained a relentless pace for the entire 60 minutes and offered the Tigers little room to breathe. The team’s offensive depth was made all the more evident by the fact that leading scorer and Hobey Baker finalist Blake Geoffrion didn't record his first point of the game until the Badgers were already up 5-0.
"We talked about [how] one of the strengths of our team is our depth," said Geoffrion. "Once the snowball got moving, it kind of kept building and building. That [makes depth] really one of our strengths."
Adding fuel to Wisconsin's offensive fire is its equally strong defensive play, which was also stellar against RIT. The Badgers held the Tigers to just 13 shots throughout the entire game, and just four in the second frame. Head coach Mike Eaves revolved the game plan around puck possession, which significantly contributed to the minimal shots allowed.
"We focused on our ability to be intelligent with the puck in [RIT’s defensive] end," Eaves said. "By having the puck in their zone and having time in their zone, they don’t have the biscuit, so I think that takes away from them getting as many scoring chances as they hoped to."
With two of the nation’s most dynamic offenses ready to go head-to-head, Saturday’s match could very well boil down to a battle of the men between the pipes. Whichever goaltender has the hotter game could be the determining factor. BC’s John Muse continued his consistency by turning away all but one of the 17 shots he faced on Thursday night. Muse's 2.54 GAA and .907 save percentage are impressive stats, but Badger Scott Gudmandson boasts an impressive 2.28 GAA and .915 save percentage.
Consistency has been BC’s bread and butter on its journey through the tournament, and it has proven to be an unquestionable formula for success. And if the game plan’s not broken, York doesn’t see the need to fix it.