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Cross Helps Eagles to Hockey East Championship

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA – For the third straight season, the Boston College Eagles won the Hockey East Championship and punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament with a 4-1 victory over the Maine Black Bears Saturday night at the TD Garden.

BC (29-10-1, 19-7-1 HEA) took an early lead in the first period with a pair of goals from freshman forward Johnny Gaudreau, who earned MVP honors for the conference tournament.

“Johnny’s skills are incredible, even his own teammates marvel at the things he can do at practice and on the ice,” Boston Bruins prospect Tommy Cross said. “But the biggest thing is he’s a team-first guy, and when you got a star player that’s a team-first guy, that’s a really good recipe.”

Maine cut the deficit in half with a goal from Brian Flynn in the second period, but Gaudreau’s linemate Pat Mullane scored with just over a minute left in frame to give BC a 3-1 lead.

After a nearly scoreless third-period, Barry Almeida converted an empty-net goal to secure the victory as BC won its 11th league title – a Hockey East Record.

Not only was BC’s defense strong in front of the net, but they also killed five Maine penalties.

Coming into the game, Maine’s power play ranked second in the nation at 26.88 percent – but the Eagles penalty kill unit was equally powerful and ranked third at 87.5 percent.

“Maine’s power play is one of the top in the nation, they can move the puck around and they have five skilled guys out there,” Cross said. “But it’s our penalty kill – we just felt like we were going to attack their power play like we do other plays and stick to our guns and take away their time and space.”

Not only was the Eagles defense strong on the power play, but it proved tough in front of the net and blocked 22 shots to slow the Black Bears offense – which ranked seventh in the nation entering the game.

“As a D core, we really stress clearing the lanes and letting [goaltender Parker Milner] see pucks, and I thought we did a really good job of that this weekend,” Cross said.

However, Cross was quick to attribute the credit to Milner, who stopped 41 shots in the victory.

“Parker was like a vacuum, there wasn’t a lot of second chances and it seemed like he kept everything in his stomach and that’s huge against good offensive teams like Maine” Cross said.

—- Anthony Gulizia
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