Miami facing another Boston roadblock

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / April 7, 2010

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DETROIT — You are Miami University, and you are getting ready to celebrate. You and your fans are one minute away from the 2009 NCAA men’s Division 1 hockey championship, the first such honor in school history. You are in the nation’s capital, leading Boston University by a score of 3-1 and you can feel how close you are to victory.

You are excited, proud, and full of enthusiasm. You cannot wait until the final second ticks off the clock, when you will be able to tell the entire country you are the very best.

But it was not to be. The Terriers roared back on goals by Zach Cohen at 19:01 and Nick Bonino at 19:43, and before the RedHawks knew it, it was overtime. A crazy goal by BU defenseman Colby Cohen, which bounced off Miami’s Kevin Roeder and high into the net over goalie Cody Reichard, ended it at 11:47 of the extra session, leaving Miami and its fans in shock and reeling from the disappointment.

Boston schools have been nothing but trouble for the RedHawks. Three straight springs, from 2006 through ’08, Boston College beat them once in the Northeast Regional semifinals and twice in the regional finals before BU beat them last year.

Tomorrow night, in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals at Ford Field, Miami is hoping to get past its Boston impediment, as it takes on BC again. It seems the RedHawks have replaced North Dakota, which was a yearly foe for the Eagles in the national tournament from 2005-08.

“This is the fourth time we’ve played them,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “Three straight years in the regionals. This is the first time we’ve played them in the Frozen Four. They’ve had pretty good success.’’

Miami had to work extra hard to eliminate Michigan in the Midwest Regional final, winning in double overtime.

One person familiar with Miami and the inner workings of past teams is former BC captain Mike Brennan, who is now playing for the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League. Brennan has been a roommate of former Miami star Nathan Davis, who is currently rehabilitating from a shoulder injury.

“We played in the national program together when I was in high school and it just so happened we both signed with Chicago, and we ended up playing against each other three years in a row in the tournament,’’ said Brennan, “and we beat them every time, which was kind of like bragging rights when we moved in together.

“It was pretty funny. Nate Davis was there his freshman year when they just started on the national map and now they’re in the Frozen Four the last two years and in the championship game last year.

“They’ve really done a great job of putting themselves in a national position. They’re definitely a team that everyone takes seriously now, and BC’s got to go through them to win a national title.’’

No one on Miami’s team will say publicly that they are sick and tired of being knocked out by Boston teams, but Brennan believes it.

BC junior center Brian Gibbons said he wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is a revenge factor, but at the same time, everyone is motivated by one thing: winning the NCAA title. That would be the feeling no matter which team was standing in the way.

“Miami is such a good team, they’re always in the national tournament, so if you’re going to advance, a lot of times you’re going to have to play them,’’ said Gibbons. “I think it started a couple of years before I got here, we played them on the way to the national championship my freshman year. I think that was probably our toughest game.

“They’re a really good team and we were able to beat them in overtime. John Muse made some great saves in overtime to keep us in it. I’m sure they remember those games just like we do and they’ll come out ready to play and maybe try to get back at us a little bit.’’

Defenseman Carl Sneep, the lone senior on the BC blue line, said the Eagles are feeling a great deal of confidence given their recent play.

“There are a lot fewer players on our team now than then who had been in that situation before, but I think we have a ton of confidence in our ability,’’ said Sneep. “We’re a very highly skilled team even though we are young.

“It’s kind of felt like the whole year that a lot of people didn’t think necessarily we were going to have as successful a year as we’ve had. A lot of it picked up when Coach [changed the lines in mid-January]. We really kind of caught fire and got the right combinations of guys playing together and started winning games and got on a roll and it just kind of worked from there.

“We really believe in ourselves and that we’re capable of winning another championship.’’

To get the chance, they’ll have to go through Miami — again.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at

Frozen Four
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
First semifinal: RIT (28-11-1) vs. Wisconsin (27-10-4), 5 p.m.
Second semifinal: Miami (29-7-7) vs. BC (27-10-3), 8:30 p.m.