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Thursday, April 5, 2012
Ferris, BC reach Frozen Four final

By David Albright
ESPN.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- All good things must come to an end.

Like the Minnesota hockey season. The Gophers were back in the Frozen Four for the first time since 2005, and being one of the brand names in the sport, they were a welcome sight for many college hockey fans. (OK, maybe North Dakota wasn't happy about it.)

Boston College, on the other hand, was anything but a welcome sight for Don Lucia's hockey club.

Parker Milner
Parker Milner's scoreless streak ended against Minnesota, but BC had more than enough to get by the Gophers and advance to the championship game.

The Eagles, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, carved up the Gophers 6-1 on Thursday night in the second national semifinal game in front of 18,605 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Lucia described BC as a team that comes in surges. And one that converts its chances.

And after he watches the video, he'll be convinced that the Eagles are pretty good on the other end, too.

"It's [doing] the little things," BC captain Tommy Cross said about the Eagles' formula for success. "It's doing the simple play over and over again. Earlier in the year we were trying to win the game in one shift, and that's not how it works.

"Ten good shifts in a row is better than one great shift and one bad shift. So that's our focus."

Thursday's performance was surgical in its precision when the opportunity was there -- as usual. In fact, BC is so good and so efficient as it waits to strike that it can lull everybody in the building to sleep.

Just ask the Gophers -- or the other 17 victims in BC's current 18-game winning streak, which dates back to Jan. 27.

Or just look at the second period.

BC took just 10 shots but scored on three of them as the lead went from 1-0 to 4-0. And the last two goals came at 17:45 and 19:43 of the period, which all but buried the Gophers heading into the final period.

"We had some chances and we just didn't score," Minnesota alternate captain Jake Hansen said. "And then the mistakes that we made, they go on to score goals. It just sucks because we felt at times we were putting the pressure on and we just needed one to go in. That just didn't happen, and they took advantage of their opportunities. It just wears on you."

Another thing that came to an end on Thursday was Parker Milner's amazing scoreless streak.

The BC goaltender hadn't allowed a goal since the Hockey East championship game back on March 17, a span of 193:49 of hockey time before Hansen beat Milner at 1:26 of the third period to make it 4-1.

And just in case the Gophers had visions of making a comeback, BC made it 5-1 just 22 seconds later when Paul Carey scored his second goal of the game.

Milner finished with 30 saves and improved to 28-5-0 on the season. And he did it against the nation's top-scoring team.

"Parker Milner made some very timely saves early in the game," BC coach Jerry York said. "They had some excellent opportunities to score and Parker was big in the net. When we did have some chances, especially in the second period, we were very opportunistic. And then that bounce-back goal to make it 5-1 was a key goal."

The Eagles (32-10-1) will now be playing in their fifth national championship game (11th overall) in the past seven years -- looking for their third national title (fifth overall) and first since 2010.

BC will face Ferris State in Saturday's title game (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN3) after the Bulldogs skated off with a 3-1 win over Union in the first national semifinal.

After a scoreless first period, Ferris State (26-11-5) trailed 1-0 when Union's Daniel Carr deflected a laser shot from Greg Coburn past Bulldogs goalie Taylor Nelson. With just 2:58 remaining in the middle frame, right wing Aaron Schmit pushed an uncontrolled rebound past Union goalie Troy Grosenick to tie it at 1-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.

Ferris came into the game with 51-31 scoring advantage in the third period and stayed true to form on Thursday.

The game-winner came at 15:17 of the third when defenseman Brett Wysopal fired a shot from above the left circle that deflected off Grosenick's pads and found an open Kyle Bonis in the right circle. The winger collected the big rebound and backhanded the puck into an open net before Grosenick could recover.

"When it went in, I was obviously really excited," Bonis said. "But I looked up at the clock and realized that we still had 4:30 left to go, and I knew Union was going to push really hard.

Kyle Bonis
Kyle Bonis scored what would prove to be the game winner as Ferris State reached its first national championship game.

"And I just didn't want us to sit back, and I think we learned a lot of lessons from this year in how to handle a lead, and I think the guys did a great job and we closed it out with some confidence."

Their coach agreed on both points.

"I thought there has been times during the course of the year when we've had the lead late and it seems like panic sets in," Ferris State's Bob Daniels said. "And we've won those games.

"But on the bench, it just seems like there's a panic almost. Like we're wishing the game to end. I'm not just talking about the players, I'm talking about the coach, too. You almost have to take a breath and not necessarily wish the clock to run down."

Whether it was wishful thinking or not, the clock did run down and Schmit added an empty-netter at 19:05 for the 3-1 final.

The result means Ferris State will be one of the teams playing on the last day of the college hockey season, a pleasant surprise for the boys from Big Rapids, Mich., who were picked to finish ninth the CCHA preseason coaches' poll.

"It's something that is really going to be hard to comprehend, and you're just going to try and be in the moment and enjoy the experience like we tried to do tonight," Bonis said. "And this is my first time to play in a game of this magnitude, and it's something that I'm really looking forward to with these guys."

It should be noted that Bonis said that before BC all but assaulted the Gophers.

But for Bonis and his Bulldogs' teammates, there is no way they wouldn't sign up for playing on the last day of the college hockey season.

Either way, the end is near.

David Albright covers college sports for ESPN.com and can be reached at espncaa@gmail.com.