Gophers' Season Ends With A Thud In 6-1 Loss To BC
Photo by: Craig Cotner Not much help for Kent Patterson against Boston College. Much like the Air Force Academy and Minnesota Duluth two weeks ago, the Golden Gophers found out that Boston College, and particularly goalie Parker Milner, are quite good at hockey. After not allowing a goal in the Northeast Regional, the Gophers were at least able to get one puck past him but Eagles ended Minnesota’s season by a 6-1 score in the second of two Frozen Four semifinals on Thursday in Tampa, Fla.
The Eagles will move on to take on Ferris State, who upended Union by a 3-1 score in the other semifinal, in the National Championship game on Saturday night.
For much of the first two periods, the Golden Gophers outplayed the Eagles but were stifled each and every time by Milner, who extended BC’s winning streak to 18 games. Senior captain Taylor Matson had the Gophers best chance in the first period, but a cross-crease one-timer was stopped by Milner’s left pad.
Unlike the Gophers, BC was able to take advantage of its scoring chances, which started early in the first as a odd-man rush by Minnesota was disrupted and the Eagles transitioned the puck up the ice for a three-on-two rush which was finished by Steve Whitney at 6:03 of the first period.
BC would double its lead at 6:35 of the second period thanks to a power play goal by Kevin Hayes that came after a soft call on Nate Schmidt for hooking. The Gophers nearly got the puck out by the Eagles held the zone, made a great cross-ice pass and Hayes went top-shelf on Kent Patterson to make it 2-0.
Shortly after Minnesota’s best scoring chance – Jake Hansen was all alone in front but couldn’t bury it – the wheels came off for the Gophers as the Eagles scored twice in the final two minutes of the second period to put the game away. Junior Chris Kreider and senior Paul Carey scored for the Eagles, who put the game out of reach heading into what would be the final period of Minnesota’s season.
Hansen was able to score Minnesota’s lone goal early in the third period, but the Eagles would quickly answer to keep the game firmly in-hand for the duration.
Photo by: Craig Cotner Don Lucia talking about the loss. Despite this thumping by the Eagles, who have been the best team in the nation the last three months, the Gophers have no reason to hang their heads. After missing out on the NCAA Tournament the last three seasons, they returned to being an upper-echelon program this season by going wire-to-wire in the WCHA to win the MacNaughton Cup, and returned to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2007.
And the future of this program is certainly bright, though losing the likes of Patterson and Matson won’t be easy. Hopefully the early departures are minimal (anyone who watched Nick Bjugstad play over the final two months would concur that he’s nowhere close to being ready for the NHL) and if that’s the case, this team should be one of the favorites in the WCHA next season, which of course is the last in the conference’s current form before the college hockey world is turned upside down in 2013-14 with the Big Ten Hockey Conference and National College Hockey Conference taking shape.
In the end, this Gopher team got everything they could out of this group of kids – who were predicted to finish in the middle of the WCHA – and if nothing else left the program in far better shape than it looked like they would 12 months ago.