DETROIT — For a time, Boston College showed its age. The youthful Eagles fought through some early jitters Thursday night, but they broke through that shell, showcased their elite talent and blew past Miami 7-1 in the Frozen Four at Ford Field.
BC, which only has seven remaining players from its 2008 national championship squad, put forth its most impressive effort of the season against a very sturdy Miami squad. The Eagles were resilient, battling through a first period that was dominated by the RedHawks, and BC will take on Wisconsin in Saturday’s national championship.
Miami was stingy in its zone in the first period, limiting Boston College to short possessions and tough chances from the outside, but the Eagles capitalized at 18:32 of the opening stanza when Ben Smith tipped Joe Whitney’s shot into the Miami net.
“It’s the semifinal of a national tournament,” said Smith, who had two goals and one assist. “You’re going to be nervous. I don’t think we were overwhelmed by the whole venue, by the event. I think we did a good job of staying level.”
Finally able to exhale, the younger Eagles put their speed and skillful scoring ability to work. They opened up the game in the second period, and Miami couldn’t stay stride-for-stride with the faster team. Like BC has done so much throughout its 12-game unbeaten streak (11-0-1), it saw a chance to bury an opponent, and it slammed a nail into the coffin.
“I think we wore them down a little bit,” said BC freshman forward Chris Kreider. “Everyone was skating really well, especially Cam Atkinson’s line. We had some terrific back pressure and stuffing some of their chances. I think they got worn down a little bit, and we just kept on going, kept on hitting, picked up our physical game.”
Guys like Atkinson, Kreider and Jimmy Hayes have earned national recognition, but they’re playing in their first NCAA Tournament. Surely, the skill is there, but it’s hard for it to break free when they’ve got such a tight grip on their sticks. Smith’s first goal alleviated a large chunk of that pressure.
“We tried to get the jitters out,” said Atkinson, who added a goal in the third period. “I think we got the jitters out as soon as we went up 1-0 with two minutes left [in the first period]. It made the biggest difference. We kept pounding, came out in the second flying and kept pounding.”
Hayes scored on a nice shot from the slot to put the Eagles ahead 2-0, and Whitney punctured the back of the net with a beautiful snipe 62 seconds later. Boston College wasn’t exactly outplaying Miami at that point, but its depth and scoring prowess is on another planet.
The Eagles took a 3-0 lead into the third period and blew Miami away with four quick scores in the final frame. All it took was a late first-period break for the Eagles to get comfortable and find their game.
“We have a lot of young guys on the team that haven’t been here before,” said Whitney, who had one goal and two assist. “For them to get that first goal under their belts and come into the locker room with that 1-0 lead, it was big.”
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