Eagles Capture NCAA Championship
April 12, 2008
DENVER (AP) -- Nathan Gerbe no longer has to be a gracious runner-up.
Twenty-four hours after missing out on the Hobey Baker award, the nation's leading scorer led Boston College to the NCAA hockey championship that had eluded the talent-laden Eagles the last two seasons.
Gerbe scored twice and added two assists in B.C.'s 4-1 win over Notre Dame at the sold-out Pepsi Center as the Eagles finally hoisted the trophy after losing in the title game to Wisconsin in 2006 and Michigan State last year.
Gerbe had a hat trick in the semifinals against North Dakota and finished his command performance at the Frozen Four with five goals and three assists.
The 5-foot-5 fireplug from Oxford, Mich., who led the nation in scoring with 35 goals and 32 assists, shrugged it off Friday night when he lost out to Michigan's Kevin Porter for hockey's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
"Since Day 1, we've been fixated on one trophy and that's the national championship," Gerbe insisted.
Thanks to Gerbe, a junior whose NHL draft rights are owned by the Buffalo Sabres, Boston College is celebrating its third overall title to go with the ones the Eagles won in 1949 and 2001.
Notre Dame had never made it this far, but the Fighting Irish were no pushover. This was B.C.'s first win over Notre Dame in five meetings since 2001, including three times when the Eagles were ranked No. 1.
Despite the loss of top scorer Erik Condra to a knee injury last month, coach Jeff Jackson guided the Fighting Irish (27-16-4) to their first national title game just three years after taking over the moribund program that won only five games in 2004-05.
Notre Dame became the first No. 4 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed when the Fighting Irish routed New Hampshire in the West Regional in Colorado Springs last month, then pulled off a shocker in their first Frozen Four appearance when they beat Michigan, the tournament's overall top seed, in overtime in the semifinals.
Boston College (24-11-8) simply had too much experience and too much Gerbe for the Irish to pull off another upset.
The Fighting Irish thought they had cut B.C.'s lead to 3-2 five minutes into the final period, but the goal was disallowed after a long review. Kyle Lawson turned his skates to form a 'V' and the puck went off his left skate and then his right. He tried to get his stick on it but couldn't as B.C. defenseman Tim Filangieri hit him as the puck slide into the net.
"The puck was kicked in the net by the Notre Dame player's right skate," video replay official Greg Shepherd said. "The skate was moving toward the goal line. There were sticks in the crease, and we needed to make sure there wasn't a deflection off the sticks or the defender's skates after it was kicked."
It proved a costly waive-off for Notre Dame. Just 35 seconds later, the Fighting Irish were down three goals instead of one when Gerbe sent a blind pass to Ben Smith, whose slap shot from the slot made it 4-1.
This game featured just the fourth scoreless first period in NCAA championship history, including last year's, when Boston College lost to the Spartans 3-1.
This time, the Eagles seized control early in the second period with three goals.
The game was shown on the scoreboard at Fenway Park during a rain delay of the Red Sox game against the New York Yankees. Those remaining in the stands cheered when Gerbe made it 1-0 when he took a pass from Brian Gibbons and one-timed it from the lower left circle past Jordan Pearce 2:23 into the second period.
Gerbe made it 2-0 with a power play goal three minutes later. Smith dumped the puck off the backboards and Gerbe picked up the ricochet and sent it past the glove of Pearce while falling chest-first onto the ice.
Joe Whitney's shot glanced off the right skate of Notre Dame defender Teddy Ruth, deflecting it into the net for a 3-0 lead, but the Fighting Irish caught Boston College in a line change a minute later when the Eagles weren't back to defend Kevin Deeth's goal past goalie John Muse, who saved 20 of 21 shots.
Notre Dame was 0-for-8 on the power play with just five shots on goal. The Eagles, who killed all eight North Dakota power plays in their 6-1 semifinal rout of the Fighting Sioux, killed 41 of 43 power plays in the postseason.