WORCESTER, Mass. — After struggling for a couple of weeks, Boston College’s top scoring line found a solution that was creative, yet so simple. It paid instant dividends for the Eagles, whose best line dominated to help BC fly past Yale 9-7 in Sunday’s Northeast Regional final at the DCU Center.
Cam Atkinson had three goals and one assist, Joe Whitney added two goals and two assists and Brian Gibbons contributed with one goal and one assist. The trio had been held off the score sheet in three of its last four games and wasn’t on the ice for any of BC’s three goals in Saturday’s victory against Alaska.
They knew they were playing too tight, and each scoreless game only added to that pressure. So, a few hours before Sunday’s faceoff, they called a private meeting in one of their hotel rooms. They talked it over for 15 minutes, vowing to play looser and have more fun.
"We were just shooting the breeze about the game. It was a good meeting for us, and it worked," Whitney said. "We just called a line meeting. We’re really good friends, so we wanted to get back together. We knew this was a really important game for us. We wanted to have a good night."
And that they did. They combined for 10 points and were a plus-14, and they contributed on six of the Eagles’ goals against Yale.
"We talked about putting too much pressure on ourselves," Whitney said. "We wanted to get back to having fun and playing hockey. It’s a fun game to play, and we love it. That was the key. The whole energy on the team was great before the game. Everybody was excited. We knew we were going to play fast tonight. Gibby and Cam were flying out there. I was just trying to do my best out there, and it worked out."
It was never an issue with their effort, but their execution suffered because they started to overthink their own play. The trio carried the good mood from the meeting to the rink, and it obviously paid off during the game.
They took the session seriously, mostly because they’ve never had to do anything like this before. Including Sunday’s output, Atkinson (27 goals, 23 assists), Gibbons (16 goals, 30 assists) and Whitney (16 goals, 23 assists) combined for 59 goals, 76 assists and 135 points. Those numbers don’t exactly come from nowhere, making the recent slump so alarming.
"To be honest, we really haven’t needed to call [a meeting] before," Atkinson said. "We’re best buddies. It makes it that much easier to sit down with the guy and know that they’re going to listen and hopefully take what you say to heart."
Now, Boston College will head to the Frozen Four in Detroit with an 11-game unbeaten streak (9-0-2). It will be the second trip to the Frozen Four for Gibbons and Whitney, who played on BC’s 2008 national championship team, and they’ll carry Atkinson to his first appearance. Boston College’s upperclassmen have remained dedicated to this moment since last season’s disappointing conclusion.
"Freshman year, I didn’t know anything else," Gibbons said. "We went to the Frozen Four, and we won it. Last year kind of makes you appreciate it a little bit more. It makes you work harder to get back there."
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