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Thursday, March 28, 2013
York's return should help Boston College

By Brion O'Connor

Boston College may have lost its first Hockey East playoff game in four years this past weekend, but the Eagles still have an ace up their sleeve as they get their head coach back just in time for the opening round of NCAA tournament play on Saturday

In the East Regional, held in Providence, R.I., the second-seeded Eagles (22-11-4) will begin defense of their 2012 national championship against the Union Dutchmen (21-12-5) late Saturday night. Like Wisconsin, Rick Bennett's Dutchmen punched their ticket into the NCAAs by catapulting from a regular-season 4th-place finish to capture the ECAC Hockey crown last weekend in Atlantic, City, N.J.

"We're concerned about any team you play in the national tournament because you know they're a good club – they've all qualified," said BC coach Jerry York, who will return to the bench after another surgical procedure on his right eye. "Union certainly is one of those teams with a legitimate chance to win a national title. We watched them play last year and they're gritty. They're very well schooled in fundamentals. Rick has them playing from the goal out -- really good defense. They move pucks through -- excellent special teams, so they concern me."

York also said the Eagles will take steps this week to limit the stretch passes that Boston University used so effectively to create multiple scoring opportunities -- and five straight goals -- while knocking BC out of the Hockey east semifinals, 6-3, last Friday.

"You learn from every game, from wins and losses," said York. "You look at them and say, ‘How can we get better here?' We're certainly not a finished product by any means. This week we'll try to really make sure we balance our practice sessions with offense and defense. Defensively, to win at this level we'll need strong play from our defense and strong play from our goaltender.

"We are going to have to score when we have great chances," he said. "We had some terrific chances against the Terriers but could not score. We can say, ‘Hey, that goalie played well,' but from our perspective we have to really make sure to bury some pucks. BU was able to get some breakaways on us, and we've looked at that and talked about pucks that are flipped up in the neutral zone. There are different areas that we have to tighten up on."

Bennett's squad was dominating in the ECAC playoffs, strafing Dartmouth twice in the quarters, 4-1 and 5-2, before knocking out Yale in the semifinals, 5-0, and Brown, 3-1, in the championship game. Though his Eagles have never faced Union, York knows his defense will need to step up its game.

"We're going to look to our two seniors in Pat Wey and Patch Alber to really settle us down. We've seen continued improvement this year from Isaac MacLeod, Mike Matheson, and Teddy Doherty is going to give us some good minutes also," said York. "They have to play better as a unit … and that helps our goaltender, that helps our offense with their breakouts. They are the keys to whether we can get passed Union. "