Senior Ben Smith (CHI) netted the game-winner and was named the Frozen Four MVP in leading the Boston College Eagles to claim the 2010 NCAA National Championship crown at Ford Field in Detroit on Saturday night. This is Boston College’s second National Championship in the last three years and fourth overall.
Both teams came out with good jump to start the game and the first period was a chess match of sorts as the two teams were trying to establish dominance over one another.
At the 11:04 mark of the opening period, senior John Mitchell was called for elbowing, giving Boston College their second power play of the period. At the 12:57 mark, Smith would get the Eagles on the board first when his shot from the slot beat Wisconsin junior netminder Scott Gudmandson five-hole.
One of the contrasts in the game was the location in which both teams displayed their strengths. Wisconsin’s play along the boards was excellent throughout much of the game. Boston College did an equally excellent job of stretching out the ice with their speed and quickness.
The Badgers dominated much of the second period, applying some consistent pressure on the Eagles and generating some quality scoring chances. Boston College’s John Muse came up with several brilliant saves to deny Wisconsin of a goal. One of the Badgers best scoring opportunities came about five minutes into the middle stanza when senior Michael Davies went in on a partial breakaway only to have the puck roll off of his stick before he had the opportunity to get a shot off.
The third period belonged to the Eagles. Boston College would explode for four goals and seal Wisconsin’s fate. The Eagles did an outstanding job of not straying far from their game plan throughout the contest. And that was especially evident in the final period.
Sophomore Cam Atkinson (CBJ) extended the Eagles lead to 2-0 at the 1:38 mark on a nice backhander that beat an out of position Gudmandson five-hole for the score.
“Ben (Smith) broke out the puck and he was able to get it to me,” Kreider said. “I heard Jimmy screaming, so I just tried to get in there. He jumped on it and just flew by the defensemen. I just tried to keep up with him. He put it right on my tape backdoor and all I had to do is tap it into the net. It was just a great play by Jimmy.”
Wisconsin saw things go from bad to worse shortly before Kreider’s goal made it into the net. Sophomore Derek Stepan (NYR) had been back helping to defend on the play when he crashed hard into the back boards and had to be helped off the ice. Stepan did not return.
“You take a 50-point guy out of your lineup, you battle being down, and it takes a little bit of your zip away,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said about losing Stepan. “But that was part of the game and injuries are a part of the game. It’s one of the things you have to battle through. But you lose a guy like that, it affects your power play and your ability to score goals.”
As the period wore on, frustration began to set in for the Badgers as the Eagles look to be in total control. At the 6:32 mark, freshman Craig Smith (NSH) was assessed a minor for contact to the head, putting Boston College back on the power play for the fourth time in the contest. And at the 7:20 mark, the Eagles would make the Badgers pay as Atkinson netted his second goal of the night on a terrific individual effort that culminated with shoveling a backhander by Gudmandson for the score.
With roughly five minutes left in regulation time and down by four goals, Wisconsin pulled Gudmandson for an extra attacker in hopes of breaking Muse’s shutout bid. It didn’t work as senior Matt Price scored for Boston College at the 15:29 mark with an empty-netter that was shot in from the neutral zone to make it 5-0.
The speed of Boston College’s transitioning that served them so well against their previous post-season opponents was clearly evident not only in containing the Badgers, but in defending against them as well, particularly in the final period. Wisconsin struggled to get players in front of their opponent’s net as Boston College did an excellent job of clearing bodies from their crease.
“Well, their speed is definitely one of their strengths,” a somber Ryan McDonagh (NYR) noted after the game. “We knew that coming in. They like to keep the puck on the outside and use their speed and try to go around us. I thought we did a pretty good job handling it in the beginning of the game. They got around us a couple of times and made us pay. No question about it.”
Muse stopped all 20 shots he faced to earn his third shutout of the season. Gudmandson stopped 21 of 25 shots in the loss for Wisconsin.
“I think don’t think it has sunk in yet,” an excited Philip Samuelsson (PIT) said after the game. “We’re still kind of in game mode and trying to wind down after that. I think in the next couple of days, this will finally sink in.”
“Being a senior, this one feels a little more special right now,” said defenseman Carl Sneep (PIT), who was also a member of Boston College’s 2008 National Championship team. “I’m just so happy with how the team was able to come together and pull it off. I think there are a lot of similarities between this team and the 2008 team. I think one difference is because we were such a young team this year, I think we were also a pretty loose team. We like to have a lot of fun, but at the same time, we do take what we have to do very seriously.”
Frozen Four All-Tournament Team
John Muse, G – Boston College
Brian Dumoulin, D (CAR) – Boston College
Brendan Smith, D (DET) – Wisconsin
Cam Atkinson, F (CBJ) – Boston College
Ben Smith, F (CHI) – Boston College
Joe Whitney, F – Boston College
MVP: Ben Smith, Boston College