DETROIT – Brendan Smith can leave Detroit with his head held high.
Although Wisconsin fell to Boston College 5-0 in the NCAA championship game Saturday at Ford Field, the Wings’ prospect had one heck of a tournament.
The Badgers’ junior defenseman was the only non-BC player to be named to the Frozen Four all-tournament team.
He also tied the NCAA record for highest point total in a game with his 5-assist effort in Thursday’s 8-1 semi-final win over Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology.
While Smith was heartbroken after the loss, he put his team’s season in perspective.
“That’s what Coach (Mike Eaves) said, we had a great year,” Smith said. “It just hurts so much right now it’s hard to even think about that. All you think about is that loss, and BC coming out on top. But if you really think about it, our season was unbelievable, and that’s why we can have our heads held high, because we were very consistent all year. The guys I played with were unbelievable.”
Smith is unsure if he will be foregoing his senior season to join the Red Wings, or if he’ll make one last attempt to capture a national championship.
“I’m going to let this soak in, try to figure out kind of what happened just now,” he said. “But then I’ll go talk to my parents and stuff, and figure it out. And talk to (Eaves), and see what the best route for me is.”
He finished his season with 52 points, the most for a Badger defenseman since Sean Hill had 53 points in the 1989-90 campaign. He is also now ranked 10th on Wisconsin’s single-season point list for defensemen.
He described his Frozen Four experience in Detroit as “unbelievable.”
“This is the best bunch of guys I’ve played with,” he said. “I mean, I’ve played on some pretty good teams, with guys like Johnny Tavares and Sam Gagner … but this was a great team this year.”
FINALS REVENGE: The last time these two teams met in the NCAA title game was April 6, 2006, in Milwaukee. The Badgers prevailed 2-1 in their home state, and hadn’t returned to the Frozen Four until this year.
Their last regular season meeting was on Oct. 10, 2008, where Wisconsin witnessed BC’s banner-raising ceremony for their 2008 NCAA title. BC won that game 5-4.
This year was the Eagles’ fourth Frozen Four appearance in five years.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE: With BC’s track record, Wisconsin was doomed from the start of the third period being down 1-0.
The Eagles finished 22-1-2 when leading after two periods, while the Badgers finished the season 0-9-2 when trailing after two periods.
BC, who got on the board 12:57 into the opening period, finished 23-4-2 when scoring first. The Badgers finished 9-9-3 when their opponent scored first.
The Eagles, who led 1-0 going into the second period, finished 18-1-2 when leading after one period. The Badgers finished 4-6-3 when trailing after one period.
PACKED HOUSE: On Thursday, Ford Field, home of the NFL's Detroit Lions, drew an announced crowd of 34,954 for Thursday's semifinal games. That set a world indoor attendance record for a hockey game.
Saturday’s turnout smashed that number, with 37,592 fans watching BC prevail over Wisconsin in the championship game.
The combined turnout for all three games was 72,546, a Frozen Four attendance record.
Boston College was part of the previous Frozen Four record of 19,432 fans, when Michigan State University beat them 3-1 in St. Louis.
BC’S SENIOR CHARM: BC’s four-member senior class—Matt Price, Matt Lombardi, Ben Smith, and Carl Sneep—have been to three Frozen Fours and captured the 2008 title.
With Saturday’s win, they now have a second title under their belt.
They finish their careers with a 101-47-17 overall record.
SAME RECORD (ALMOST): Going into the title game, Wisconsin and BC were remarkably similar on paper.
BC entered Saturday with a 28-10-3 record, Wisconsin entered with a 28-10-4 record. Wisconsin ranked No. 3 overall, BC ranked No. 4 overall.
SEA OF ORANGE: Although RIT fell 8-1 to Wisconsin on Thursday, their friends and family stayed to carry on the Tigers’ spirit.
The RIT fans, dressed in their official colors of orange and white, were clearly visible in their designated section during Saturday’s championship game. They even started an “RIT!” chant before the national anthem began, and continued cheering for their college throughout the game.
The Tigers’ fans cheered for Wisconsin, starting a “Let’s go Badgers” chant more than once. They were one of the loudest sections, repeatedly attempting to rev up Badgers fans with a “We can’t hear you” cry.
Detroit native Cameron Burt, a sophomore forward, was the lone Michigan-born player on RIT’s roster. His team had been on a 12-game win streak before their loss to Wisconsin.