Eagles Come Up Just Short To Badgers In Frozen Four Finals, 2-1
April 8, 2006
By COLIN FLY, AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- With a national title at stake, Brian Elliott and Wisconsin's special teams bailed the Badgers out again.
Tom Gilbert scored a goal on a power play, Robbie Earl added another and Elliott made 22 saves to lead Wisconsin to its sixth national title and first since 1990 with a 2-1 victory over Boston College on Saturday night.
On a power play with 10:28 left in the third, Gilbert took a pass from Joe Pavelski at the point and ripped a slap shot from between the circles that beat Cory Schneider, who had been brilliant in the face of the Badgers' offensive assault, to give the Badgers the 2-1 lead.
BC's Anthony Aiello hooked Jack Skille a minute earlier to set up the final goal just after Wisconsin (30-10-3) ran its successful penalty kill streak to 36.
Boston College (26-13-3) couldn't break through the bigger, stronger blue line defenders for Wisconsin, and Elliott didn't face the second chances the Eagles said they had to have to win.
Chris Collins fired a shot wide with just over 2 minutes to play, and BC failed to score after pulling Schneider with 23 seconds to play as BC's last, desperation shot by Peter Harrold hit the right post with 1.7 seconds left.
It looked promising early for the Eagles, who finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
Despite peppering Schneider with 17 first-period shots, Wisconsin was still trailing 1-0 when the Badgers broke through just over a minute into the second period.
Boston College's Brian Boyle lost the puck in his own zone to Pavelski, who finished with two assists. Pavelski found Adam Burish, who sent a pass to the crease that Earl tapped in for Wisconsin's first goal.
Earl, who had been hip-checked hard moments before by Collins, was skating off slowly for a change before deciding to jump back in the play. Earl, named the Most Outstanding Player, sped past defenseman Mike Brennan for a deflection of Burish's pass for his third goal of the Frozen Four.
Boyle nearly made up for the mistake minutes later on the power play, but he couldn't get his stick on a puck feathered across the crease by defenseman Brett Motherwell.
Schneider made 37 saves, but faced enough shots to be unsure of every stop.
After Nick Licari snapped a wrist shot into Schneider with just over 5 minutes left in the second, Schneider took a quick peek behind him to make sure the puck didn't squirt through.
Then in the closing minutes of the period, Wisconsin's Jack Skille fired a slap shot that went off the crossbar, and the teams headed into the third period tied at 1.
Elliott, a Hobey Baker finalist, was solid, if unspectacular, at the other end. The nation's best goalie in virtually every category, he stopped every opportunity after giving up a gritty goal in the first to Pat Gannon set up by Dan Bertram.
Bertram, who committed three first-period penalties, jumped out of the box after his second one expired and outworked two Wisconsin defenders in the corner to find Gannon streaking to the front of the net.
Gannon sent a backhand shot high over Elliott's blocker to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead with 11:59 left in the first.
Undeterred, Wisconsin, which had won only three games after giving up the first goal, continued peppering Schneider with shots, who came up big until the second period.
Collins, who came into the game with 34 goals and 29 assists as Hockey East's Player of the Year, was quiet. He also went down hard moments after BC's first goal when he ran into teammate Brock Bradford.
Boston College, which scored 16 goals en route to the title game, was the first No. 3 seed ever to make the championship.
It was enough to overcome Wisconsin, the tournament's top seed that survived the regional final with a 1-0 triple overtime victory over Cornell before beating Maine 5-2 in Thursday's semifinal.
The Badgers retained their home state advantage in the crowd of 17,814, playing a little over an hour away from their Madison campus as the Frozen Four host. The Badgers' victory gave the Western Collegiate Hockey Association its fifth straight title.