|Nick Petrecki is the first to congratulate BC goalie John Muse on his shutout. (Josh Gibney/Associated Press)|
Underdog Eagles sweep Wildcats
DURHAM, N.H. - One goal six-plus minutes into last night's game was a nice start for Boston College, but coach Jerry York never believed it would be enough.
One day after scoring in bunches, the Eagles claimed a 1-0 victory over New Hampshire to sweep the Wildcats in a best-of-three Hockey East tournament quarterfinal series at the Whittemore Center. BC won Friday's Game 1, 5-3, and advances to the semifinals Friday at TD Banknorth Garden.
The Eagles may own the last two conference tournament titles and be the defending national champions, but this result could be considered an upset. The Eagles were the sixth seed, playing at No. 3 UNH, on a sheet of ice on which it had won just three times in 19 attempts before this series.
And with only 16 spots up for grabs for the NCAA Tournament, York said he isn't convinced the Eagles have done enough to assure themselves a spot. Following last night's win, York said he is confident teams like UNH, Boston University, Northeastern, and Vermont have earned invitations, but his team "is trying to stay alive in this thing."
BC (18-13-5) continued to make a case for itself despite its rocky season with a victory against the ninth-ranked team in the nation.
York and UNH coach Dick Umile each praised the play of the goaltenders. Goalie John Muse and the rest of the Eagles were forced to kill a penalty with 2:42 left, protecting the lead. With a minute left, UNH pulled goalie Brian Foster for an extra skater but couldn't get one past Muse, who finished with 31 saves (Foster had 22).
With 3,995 fans on their feet, BC cleared the puck, and the final seconds ticked away.
UNH (19-12-5) was denied on four power-play chances last night, and was 0 for 10 in the series. It was just the third time this season that UNH has been shut out, a task York said is difficult to complete.
"We've never been involved in a game here that's been a shutout, that's for sure," he said. "Our team is getting better. Johnny Muse's numbers are down this year compared to last year, but recently he's kicked it to a much different level of play. He's one of the key reasons that we shut out the Wildcats tonight and that gives us a little hope as we try to secure an NCAA berth that his play will be the adrenaline for us that it was last year."
Matt Price put the Eagles up at 6:12 of the first period, beating Foster with a backhand.
"Who would have thought that goal by Matt Price would have held up?" York said. "It was a real nice start for us."
The teams battled in the Hockey East quarterfinals for the first time since 1994. They have won eight of the last 11 conference tournament titles between them.
Umile said he hopes his team has done enough to be considered for the NCAA Tournament.
"There are no guarantees that we're in the NCAA Tournament, but I'm going to bank on the fact that we are, and hopefully the season is not over for us, but we'll find that out later on," he said.