With a 6-0 undefeated postseason run, the Eagles look to be in fine shape to bring their second national title in three years back to Boston. With an endless list of reasons why this powerhouse has gotten as far as they have, such as running a virtually unstoppable offense and possessing depth and versatility at every position, the qualities that have even further set this team apart this season are those of character and experience.
This year when Jerry York turns his head to look down his bench, the long line of leaders staring him back in the face is a unique trait that very few teams can match. Starting with his trio of senior captains Matt Price, Matt Lombardi, and Ben Smith, the character and experience of this Eagles squad alone has been a huge contribution to their success.
As they said themselves, the preparation for this season began well before their normal preseason routines. It began last March the second they were eliminated from the 2008-2009 Hockey East playoffs. Boston College is a team accustomed to having their season extend to April and after failing to advance for the first time in four years last season, they're not about to fall short this time. With four seniors on the roster, and their last title coming in 2008, their experience should set the bar come next week.
Boston College is a class-A team all around beginning with their fearless leader, who's currently the second-winningest coach in NCAA hockey, and filtering down the roster.
When the Eagles' top scoring line of Cam Atkinson, Brian Gibbons, and Joe Whitney, who produced 84 points this season, went surprisingly silent at the beginning of the playoffs, it was the senior leadership of Lombardi that carried the team. After registering only seven goals throughout his entire four-year BC career, he netted a career-high four points including his first career hat-trick and game-winner in overtime of the decisive match to give the Eagles their record ninth Hockey East title in a performance that earned tournament MVP honors.
A team's top leader will always find a way to rise to the occasion when the game is on the line.
"Lombardi is a remarkable player to coach," York said. "He is the hardest worker on the team both on the ice and in the weight room. His leadership and value to the team is demonstrated every single day."
BC will be making their ninth visit to the Frozen Four in the last thirteen years. They displayed their versatility by winning a tight 3-1 match with Alaska and then prevailing in a 9-7 scoring battle with Yale in their Northeast Regional playoffs.
As the saying goes, if it's not broken, don't fix it. York and his Eagles will do just that and continue using the same game plan that has gotten them this far, which is to create offense from good solid defense. This recipe will continue revolving around the consistency of netminder John Muse.
"We want to run a balanced attack, fifty percent defense and fifty percent offense," York said. "We'll continue relying on [Muse's] mental toughness. He's shown excellent poise which is evident of his championship level of play and hasn’t gotten rattled."
York will look to continue raising the bar for his team throughout his run with the Eagles. He enters next week with three national titles under his belt. In his 17 tournament appearances, he's earned 30 wins, the highest win total of any coach in Division I history.
While he may boast an extensive resume, he keeps his team's message simple.
"Embrace the moment when we get there and enjoy it."