Stunned Eagles shown an early exit
ST. LOUIS — The expectations were so high.
Boston College believed so strongly in the team’s talent, its unity, its mission. The Eagles wanted to be the first team to repeat as NCAA champion since Denver in 2005. Goaltender John Muse had ice water in his veins and longed for a third ring for his collection after winning in his freshman and junior seasons. Ditto for fellow seniors Joe Whitney and Brian Gibbons. But it was not to be.
Colorado College was better in all facets of the game and earned its way into the West Regional finals tonight against Michigan after drubbing BC, 8-4, at the Scottrade Center.
The last time BC was in this building, the season ended in disappointing but not embarrassing fashion. The Eagles lost to Michigan State in the NCAA title game in 2007, 3-1. Last night had to sting, though. BC was not the team it was during the 2010-11 campaign that won 30 games on the way to the Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles. The Tigers executed their game plan almost flawlessly, taking BC out of the contest early.
“I thought Colorado College certainly deserved the game tonight,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “They were just much better than we were in a lot of facets of the game, particularly on special teams. They didn’t surprise us, we knew they were a very good hockey team. We knew they were excellent [on] special teams. We were just unable to contain and win those special-teams battles. In the first period, they executed incredibly well. I thought they had great puck possession, they scored the four goals. Hats off to them, it’s an outstanding hockey team.’’
The Eagles started on a very positive note, scoring just 19 seconds into the game. Jimmy Hayes converted a rebound on a shot by Pat Mullane, backhanding a shot near the right post past netminder Joe Howe. Then it all went south for BC.
The Tigers responded at 4:34 during a power play when Stephen Schultz scored from the top of the left circle that beat Muse to the stick side. They added three more in the period to go up, 4-1, through 20 minutes and outshot the Eagles, 18-8. It was the first time BC trailed by three goals after the opening period since Feb. 2, 2007, against UMass at Conte Forum.
Freshman Jaden Schwartz beat Muse on his own rebound that connected inside the left post at 7:47. Just 15 seconds later, older brother Rylan Schwartz, a sophomore, found the back of the net on a bid from in front. Jaden Schwartz, who was positioned behind the BC net, centered to his sibling after knocking a BC defenseman off the puck and Rylan put it home to make it 3-1.
BC had an opportunity at 11:28 when Cam Atkinson had a chance from deep in the right circle. His low shot went off Howe’s glove and the puck bounced up and stopped on top of Howe’s left pad.
It turned out to be that kind of night for the Eagles. Howe came up big again at 13:41 when Barry Almeida took a shot from in front and Joe Whitney got to the rebound. Whitney threw the puck at the net from just below the left circle and Howe stopped it with his right pad.
Then it got really ugly for the Eagles.
They gave up the first of two shorthanded goals, something they haven’t done since March 13, 2009, in a win over UNH.
At 18:42, David Civitarese backhanded a shot from the right circle that beat Muse between the pads to make it 4-1.
BC got one back at 10:39 of the second when Paul Carey found an opening on Howe from the left circle that eluded the netminder’s glove.
But the next three again belonged to the Tigers. Jaden Schwartz generated his second of the night at the 14-minute mark during a power play, beating Muse from just outside the right post. The second shorthanded goal came at 15:34 by freshman Alexander Krushelnyski, whose name is familiar to Boston hockey fans. His father, Mike, is a former Bruin. Krushelnyski took a centering pass from Civitarese and Muse had no chance. William Rapuzzi made it a rout at 17:33, sending the Tigers into the final period with a 7-2 advantage.
Muse was relieved at the start of the third by sophomore Parker Milner, certainly not the way he expected to end his impressive college career.
BC pulled to within four at 8:15 of the third when Atkinson beat Howe from the slot into the top right corner and Almeida finally broke through at 13:39 on a shot from the right circle but it was little consolation on a night that had gone only the Tigers’ way.
Dakota Eveland finished the scoring on the power play with 8.6 seconds left.