The road to redemption has been on Miami’s mind ever since its quest for a national title slipped through its hands, as Boston University came from behind to win it all last year.
As a team that has had its championship dream thwarted by a Boston-based hockey club for the past four years, the RedHawks have one thing on their minds: to finally turn the tables and prevail over Boston College. But with the Eagles looking awfully similar to the national championship powerhouse that captured the title just two years ago, you can be sure they’ll have something to say about it, too.
This year’s battle between two of the nation’s best will possibly be even more competitive than past semifinal games, as both look to avenge disappointing finishes to last season. Though both teams possess mirror-image matchups in depth, versatility and consistency, they play very different styles of hockey.
The Eagles like to play a quick transition game and generate a lot of offense from solid defense. With some of the quickest and most skilled forwards in the country, they can bury a handful of goals in the blink of an eye. Though the RedHawks can adapt and match any style of play thrown at them, they prefer a more traditional game revolving around puck possession. When the two collide on Thursday, you can be sure it will be a back-and-forth, down-to-the wire contest.
Miami head coach Enrico Blasi remembers only too well a fierce BC team that, in 2008, eliminated his team from the regional final before eventually capturing the national title.
“From what I remember of that game, it was pretty back and forth — great goaltending by [John] Muse, and a heck of a team that went on to win the national championship for Boston College," Blasi said. "Those are all experiences that we’ll remember and lean on."
Miami power forward and junior captain Tommy Wingels also hasn’t forgotten last year’s disappointment. He has used the experience to fuel his RedHawks to do anything necessary to return to the Frozen Four this season.
“You end the last season with a bit of a disappointment, but you gain so much out of getting to the Frozen Four,” Wingels said. “We looked each other in the eyes and said that this was the most fun we’ve had in our lives — getting here with the guys that we love. We said that we’ve got to keep this feeling in our heads and get back to this event again. You can scream or pout about it, or you can start working again. We took the second approach."
You can be sure the Eagles will be well-prepared for the battle awaiting them when they take on the RedHawks. Although they have ended Miami’s NCAA run on three consecutive occasions, the RedHawks’ emergence as one of the nation’s best has been especially evident over the last two years. As Eagles head coach Jerry York prepares another championship-caliber Eagles squad in search of its fourth title, he knows BC will be up against a soaring RedHawks club.
“The Miami team was within a heartbeat of winning it last year, but more importantly, to rebound and come back like that is just a remarkable story for them," York said. "I thought that they had an outstanding team. They’ve replaced some of the players, but they still have the same type of team: great puck possession and outstanding goaltenders”.
A lot of things can change in two years. Miami has inched its way closer to a national title every year and has especially been able to close the gap with BC in recent attempts. After being shut out in the matchups between the two in 2006 and 2007, the 2008 game became a tight overtime tilt, which the Eagles stole 4-3.
With a core group of players still remaining on both rosters, this year presents a new chapter in a new story.
“We’re focused on what BC is today," Blasi said. "And I can tell you that they’re really quick and fast and offensively explosive, and we’re going to have to be at our best to give them a good game. That’s what we’re going to focus on all week”.