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Collins' Hat Trick Leads BC Past North Dakota In NCAA Frozen Four

Boston College's Chris Collins, center, takes a shot on North Dakota's Jordan Parise, right, as Brian Lee, left tries to defend in the first period.

Boston College's Chris Collins, center, takes a shot on North Dakota's Jordan Parise, right, as Brian Lee, left tries to defend in the first period.

April 6, 2006

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MILWAUKEE -- (AP) Chris Collins made North Dakota pay for its mistakes, and Boston College's unselfish play helped the Eagles advance to the NCAA Frozen Four title game for the first time since 2001.

Streaking in alone in the second period, Collins got a pass from teammate Benn Ferriero and buried the puck in the back of the net to lead Boston College to a 6-5 victory over North Dakota on Thursday in the semifinals.

"They weren't ready for that," Collins said. "To be skating out across the blue line and Benn Ferriero putting it right on my stick was pretty nice."

Collins scored three goals and the Eagles didn't let North Dakota bully them out of the NCAA Tournament like they did last season.

Freshmen Anthony Aiello, Nathan Gerbe and Brett Motherwell added goals and Cory Schneider made 36 saves. The Eagles (26-12-3) advanced to the final Saturday night against the winner of the second semifinal between Maine and Wisconsin.

Collins, a senior Hobey Baker award finalist, swung the momentum with the goal scored with 22 seconds left in the second period while North Dakota was changing lines.

Schneider, who became Boston College's single-season saves leader with 1,051, fired the long pass up ice to Ferriero and Collins' goal made it 5-2.

"Shooting the puck up ice is something we've been working on all season," Schneider said. "It's gotten me in trouble a couple of times, turning it over to the other team and getting goals against us. It was a bang, bang play and fortunately it worked out."

It took Boston College a little more than 2 minutes to go from panicked to poised in the second after nearly squandering a 3-0 lead.

"We got a little tentative with the lead," Boston College coach Jerry York said. "The Fighting Sioux came back real hard on us."

North Dakota (29-16-1), which came into the game with the nation's longest winning streak at six, scored two goals in the second to end Schneider's tournament shutout streak at seven periods.

First, Rastislav Spirko sprinted out on the power play and had his initial shot stopped by Schneider, his 13th save of the day. But the rebound was tipped and slithered back to Spirko, who put it behind Schneider.

With 6:35 left in the period, Matt Watkins sent a feather pass to Rylan Kalp on the doorstep, and he put it through Schneider's legs to cut it to 3-2.

"We came back strong and it was tough," North Dakota's Drew Stafford said. "We made it close, and like coach said, we have a lot of heart." Aiello responded for Boston College, which lost to North Dakota 6-3 in the regional finals last season.

"It was very similar to last year's game -- they jumped out early last year, we jumped out early this year, and the other team clawed back into it," Schneider said.

Aiello's first collegiate goal came off a screened shot with 4:22 left to make it 4-2. That set the stage for the speedy Collins to end the period, and left the Sioux defense again out of sync.

"Those goals were huge, especially Aiello's first goal of the year," Schneider said. "We were kind of on our heels, and he gave us the two-goal cushion again."

North Dakota got third-period goals from Jonathan Toews, Travis Zajac and Brian Lee, but Gerbe answered with a goal of his own to keep Boston College comfortably ahead. The Sioux scored with 12 seconds left on a shot by Lee for the final margin.

"There's only one team every year that the season ends the way you want it end," North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said. "Certainly when your season does come to an end, whether its earlier on in the season, earlier on in the tournament or a night like tonight, it's tough." In the first period, Collins scored twice -- the second when he came down the left side and flipped the puck off both posts and past Jordan Parise, rattling the goalie and the Sioux.

"I think actually the scouting report was to kind of shoot it low, so I don't know what I was doing," Collins said with a smile.

In one sequence, Parise sent an outlet pass to no one, and the Eagles jumped back on the attack. On another, two Sioux players ran into each other and that led to another turnover and scoring chance on Parise, who finished with 25 saves.

Collins scored his first goal short-handed, after a shot ricocheted right to him off Mike Brennan's skate. Collins accelerated past the Sioux defense and beat Parise to the goalie's left as the Eagles built a 2-0 lead.

North Dakota tried to control the early action using the same style it did in eliminating BC last year -- with physical play like when Matt Smaby hit Gerbe and Andrew Kozek nearly checked Motherwell over the boards.

But Motherwell got even moments later with the first goal of the game, a snap shot over Parise's glove.

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