BU's Christopher Higgins evades a UVM defender. Boston U. took a 5-4 decision from Vermont to advance to the NCAA Championship game on Saturday. (photo: Kristyn Ulanday)
April 12, 2009 8:46 p.m. No one has come to grips with what they saw last night. We often throw around the terms “unbelievable” or “incredible” when talking about something we’re excited about…but this doesn’t quite fit. This actually was unbelievable, meaning many of us are still having trouble actually believing that we’re not going to wake up in our BU dorms having lost to the Red Hawks 4-1 (in my dream Miami would have scored an empty-netter, obviously) in the waning minutes of yesterday’s game.
For my own nostalgic purposes, let me just recap here with a little of my own narrative from the moment –
What the facts say: We’re going into the third period and BU has already had six penalties to the Red Hawks’ three. The score is somehow tied, even though Miami has had more man-advantages and more shots on net. What I was seeing: Holy, holy, holy. We’re being outplayed and we’re being manhandled. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that Miami would be as much of a challenge as they have been. If the Terriers lose to the Red Hawks, of all teams, I will never accept it. I was prepared for a Catamount defeat, but not this. No way, sir.
What the facts say: There is 4:08 on the clock in the third and the Red Hawks are up 3-1. They scored two goals in the span of about three minutes to. What I was seeing: At this point I started texting a friend of mine: “I can’t believe this.” The jumbotron panned over the BU student section multiple times and for more than a few (very uncomfortable) seconds. I’ve never seen so many dead stares. I love sports, but get that upset over a game? This was the first time I’ve felt so absolutely at a loss for emotions. And the worst part? I was standing right in front of a small Miami fan section, where those Red Hawks were also texting their friends…I imagine the messages were similar to the one I sent.
What the facts say: BU head coach Jack Parker is pulling goaltender Kieran Millan with roughly three minutes of play left. What I was seeing: Well, it was a good run. Here comes the empty-net goal.
What the facts say: 59 seconds remain in regulation; BU’s Zach Cohen scores on an impossible backhanded attempt. 17 seconds remain in regulation and BU’s Nick Bonino scores off one heck of a pass from Hobey Baker Award winner Matt Gilroy. The game is all tied up and BU forces an overtime period. What I was seeing: Not a whole lot, I’ll admit that upfront. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed quite that hard, or pounded my feet that many times out of pure joy. Swoop the Red Hawk was dressed and ready to go out on the ice and I found him sitting on a chair by the locker rooms just dumbstruck. If you’ve ever taken a psychology of personality class, you will learn that often weird things happen when people do not have a set of emotions or reactions prepared for a given situation. That taken-by-surprise feeling. I was laughing so hard all the way into that first overtime, because I honestly didn’t know what else I could do.
What the facts say: In yet again another impossible scenario, BU’s Colby Cohen sends a shot careening off of a Miami player (attempting to block the shot) and the puck redirects and literally pops over goaltender Cody Reichard to notch the game-winner with 11:47 remaining in the first overtime. The win gives BU their first NCAA title since 1995. What I was seeing: One of the greatest turnarounds I’ve ever personally witnessed. In following with this tournament’s last-second attempts, BU pulls off what truly defines “unbelievable.”
If the colors and jersey logos for the two teams weren’t similar enough, try watching a crowd clad in what are essentially the same colors whose faces go through all of the same emotions…just in reverse.
Congratulations to the Boston University Terriers and coach Jack Parker. Feels good.
April 11, 2009 10:58 p.m. We're National Champions! 9:38 p.m. This is what a championship game is supposed to look like.
I'm still shaking from screaming so hard. 9:33 p.m. The catch phrase of this tournament has been last-minute heroics...and this game is no different.
Down by two, the Terriers forced an extra period with two rapid-succession goals in the waning seconds of regulation.
Miami fans can't believe it. Neither can the Terriers' fans. 9:12 p.m. Miami just scored. 2-1. Seven minutes and change remains in this game. 8:47 p.m. We're tied at one apiece after two.
Talking to some of the team's crew backstage right now (Swoops the Red Hawk and Rhett the Terrier) and the general consensus is that this game is too close for anyone's liking.
The people behind the scenes are starting to get very anxious. 7:55 p.m. It's 1-0, BU, going into the second. 7:19 p.m. A quick thought: Ohio teams have bookended the Terriers' run in this NCAA Tournament. BU played Ohio State in the first game of the Regionals, advancing with a score of 8-3.
Just saw a little "game notes" fact on the jumbotron that says Miami Ohio has outscored their opponents in this tournament 10-3.
We'll see. Right now we're scoreless about halfway through the first. 6:28 p.m. The teams are on the ice warming up. The jerseys are crazily similar, so the stands are quicking filling in with "red" and whites.
Just over 30 minutes until game time. I'll try to keep period recaps going as the game progresses.
Here we go! Nerves! April 10, 2009 8:09 p.m. Hobey Baker is Back in Boston Matt Gilroy is this year's Hobey Baker Award winner. Can't say I'm surprised.
Skills competition up next... 11:47 p.m. BU Outlasts UVM, 5-4 What. A. Game.
I don’t know about those players, but I’m exhausted.
In a lot of ways, it feels like the NCAA Regional Championship game against UNH: Some early good feelings and a comfortable control of play, a few heartbreaking plays that had us biting our nails and on the verge of tears and then a near-last minute soar to victory.
Suffice it to say, there has been a lot energy expelled tonight.
I tried to explain it to my friend this way: Do you ever feel that adrenaline rush right in the pit of your heart after running a sprint? Well, that’s how I feel right now.
Let me try to give you as best a recap of the night’s events as I can –
BU's Colin Wilson. (photo: Kristyn Ulanday)
It was a full house, and both teams were overstocked with fans donning their school’s colors. Because the teams were so evenly matched, there were a near-even number of shots on goal for the game (28-27 in favor of BU) and a ton of back-and-forth action.
Unlike some games that I’ve seen recently, there were no “dull” moments in this contest. From the nine penalties BU racked up (Vermont sustained only five), to the come-from-behind position both teams managed to find themselves in throughout, it played like a tournament game ought to play like. It played like a championship game.
In the first period, BU managed to put themselves up 2-0, and I’ve gotta say, Terrier fans were feeling pretty good about things. The no. 1 team in the country was showing their ability to punish teams and control was on their side, as they outshot the Catamounts 2-to-1.
Then it all came tumbling down with three Vermont points in the second stanza, two in rapid succession (45 seconds separated them). I don’t think I can give justice to the disappointment that flooded one side of the arena and utterly lit up the other. People were going crazy, on both ends of the spectrum.
But with 81 seconds left in that period, freshman forward Vinny Saponari netted the tying point to cap off two periods of play. Tensions were, as you can imagine dear reader, very, very high.
Now we come to the pivotal third period, and, as I once heard a member of BU’s coaching staff say to the team: Win the period, win the game, boys. I couldn’t help but remember this as it came down to the final 20 minutes of play of regulation. Win the period; win the game.
Vermont’s Drew MacKenzie put the Catamounts up 4-3 about halfway through the period and things started to get a little hairy. The goal was reviewed (but stood).
Chris Higgins tallied the equalizer a few minutes later and, once again, the point was reviewed.
Do you feel this tension?
With just over five minutes left, Colin Wilson (a Hobey Baker finalist and the Terrier who netted BU’s first goal of the game), puts home what ultimately becomes the game-winning bid.
And now this arena, which not too long ago was overjoyed for the green and gold, is suddenly celebrating a scarlet and white lead.
I heard a commentator say that this is what a no. 1 team looks like. That the Terriers never gave up and pushed and pulled in all the right places. That might be true. But I’m giving full credit to the woman who took a picture with the Terrier mascot, Rhett, and told me that -- historically -- whichever mascot she poses with, that team goes the distance.
I’ll buy that. --- Look for more coverage of the NCAA Frozen Four here. 9:41 a.m. So the "Band Bus" left this morning from good 'ol Babcock Street at 5:30 a.m., and we're now somewhere in no-name New Jersey (OK? So it has a name, but I wasn't awake to catch any road signs and my window-seated partner doesn't know, either).
We just had a food, slash stretching break and are about to take off again on our trek south.
People are in good spirits. Though the 10-hour ride is really starting to sink in (in all the wrong places....most of us have sore calves, thighs and bums from sleeping sideways).
The earlier din of chatter about being exhausted has been replaced with a renewed excitement to get to our destination and, being among mostly band members, talk has swung to the topic of the competition: George Mason's band was recruited to play for Bemedji State and the BU Pep Band is mentally preparing to dominate.
Current arrival time is 2:30 p.m. Talk to you close to then. April 9 12:29 a.m. Only five hours until my bus officially departs from Babcock Street (at Boston University) and heads to Washington, D.C.
About 20 hours until first face off.
Roughly 23 hours (if the game goes smoothly) until a victor is announced. April 7, 2009 3:23 a.m. It’s way past my bedtime, but I keep finding myself engaged in late night conversations about the upcoming Frozen Four trip on Thursday.
Matt Gilroy Boston University Terriers NCAA
There should be a good number of BU fans represented there and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience for everyone involved.
Before I load my 5 a.m. bus and begin my multimedia scrapbook of the events both from the stands and behind-the-scenes, I’d like to point out a few of the more storybook elements of this particular NCAA Championship run.
What follows is what I’ve gathered from sifting through stats and talking to friends and co-workers:
Who the teams are: Boston University (33-6-4, 18-5-4 Hockey East) will face the University of Vermont (22-11-5, 15-8-4 Hockey East) in the 8 p.m. game in Thursday night’s first round.
When they last saw each other: BU last saw Vermont on Nov. 21 and 22, where the Catamounts delivered the only back-to-back losses the Terriers have seen season (both scores were 4-3).
Why this game means something: Well, the one that’s obvious first: advancement to the championship game. But, dipping a little deeper into the proverbial pot, there is something to be said about the fated nature of this match up.
Dean Strong University of Vermont Catamounts NCAA
There’s no doubt that BU has faced a difficult schedule this season, including an early game against the Michigan Wolverines (29-11-0) and the North Dakota Fighting Sioux (24-14-4), but looking back at the facts and figures, Vermont seems to have been (in the last two seasons, anyway) Boston’s true green & gold Kryptonite (last season, no. 18 Vermont ended the no. 13 Terriers’ season in a 3-1 victory).
Is facing Vermont one of the fabled twelve labors for this Terrier squad before truly deserving the title?
This is, after all, the team that BU has seen seven times in the past two seasons and has only defeated twice.
There's no doubt that they are the sleeping cat waiting to pounce at the slightest provocation. --- Angela Latona, an intern at BostonBruins.com, is a Boston University student who will make her way to Washington, DC to watch Hockey East rivals BU and the University of Vermont vie for a chance at the NCAA title. She'll report what she sees back to the Hub of Hockey.