And They Lived Happily Ever After


I'm still in disbelief at what I saw last night in the NCAA Frozen Four championship game between Miami and BU.

It's really hard to put into words. It's one of those things you just have to see. You won't believe it if you read it.

The game last night was one of the best hockey games I've ever seen. One of the tons of writers who covered the game said it was one of the best moments in Boston sports history and compared it to the Red Sox being down 3-0 in the series and coming back to beat the Yankees. It was THAT good.

The game was incredibly fast paced. I've never seen end-to-end action like there was between these two teams. I was practically out of breath watching them. BU got on the board first, but Miami tied it up in the second. The RedHawks shut down BU for pretty much the entire second half of the game. The Terriers just couldn't get any chances in. That's a huge credit to Miami. They played the type of hockey they needed to, and they were physical and very fast while doing so. With 7:30 to go in the third, Miami scored; they notched another one with 4:08 left to make it 3-1.

I'm not going to lie. At that point my confidence was shot. I've seen strange things happen in hockey games, but BU was just not getting any chances to begin with. And here they found themselves down two goals with four minutes left?

I clasped my hands together and just waited. Jack Parker decided to pull Kieran Millan with 3:32 to go. A bold move, but what did they have to lose? The clock kept ticking down ...

And then came the miracles.

BU scored with 59.5 seconds left. It was 3-2. And then with 17.4 seconds remaining, they tied the game.

See? I told you you wouldn't believe it. It was the most incredible final minute of hockey I've ever seen and probably will ever see. It's been BU's story throughout the play-offs: last minute heroics. They found a way to do it against UNH, Vermont and now Miami. You can credit it to talent or skill or whatever you want -- but there is an astounding amount of resilience in those boys that enables them to do this. Any team could easily give up being down 3-1 with four to go. But they didn't. And they were rewarded for it.

It might sound weird to say this, but OT was nothing compared to that final 60 seconds. Kind of like the 1980 Olympic team -- their big moment was against Russia, but they still had to go on and win the gold medal. BU played very well in OT and got the winning goal in a similar fashion as how they got key goals in the past two games -- off an opponent. Colby Cohen shot a puck that went off of a diving Miami player's shoulder and strangely into the net. Looking at the replay, it had to be fate that it was going in.

And that was that. The Boston University Dream Team were officially the 2009 National Champions.

Some other things I'd like to point out about the game:

+ BU should be thanking their lucky stars -- or everyone on their penalty kill unit -- for that game. They've had a problem with discipline all year, and they took seven of them last night. Way too many considering they were only give two power plays. I have to question a referee calling a late-game slash on a team he called six other times and is down 2-1 with a championship on the line, but that's another story. If Miami didn't go 0-for-7 on the PP, the game could have been completely different.

+ Millan looked a little nervous again tonight. I don't blame him. He's 19 years-old playing in his first year in a national championship game. Both teams had freshman goaltenders, but Cody Reichard is 22 years-old.

+ I didn't buy into the whole "Miami is such an underdog" story. It was way overplayed, and the RedHawks showed that last night. They looked extremely good out there -- better than BU for half the game. People kept pointing out how they had never played in a championship game ... but none of the players on the BU roster had either. I understand the history is deeper, but history is history. Now is now. Miami has played over .500 hockey since 2005-06. They made it to the tournament last year; BU didn't. I understand the Terriers were ranked number one for a large part of the season, but I wasn't at all surprised to see Miami in the final alongside them. They're a good hockey club. Their head coach even pointed out how their senior class has won more games in the past four years than any other.

So there it is. I woke up this morning and realized it wasn't just a dream. I've been watching hockey for quite awhile now, and I have never seen a team like this. I don't know that I ever will again. In any league. From the chemistry right down the pure skill. Is this what it's like to be a Detroit Red Wings fan?

BU is a big school. This isn't BC. It's not a closely-knit campus with pretty buildings and grassy areas. It's a busy city street with an extremely diverse culture where everyone has something different going on. It's not easy to bring everyone here together. But this game did. I saw kids who don't even know what hockey is cheering them on. Students who had never seen a hockey game in their lives. It was the one time I've seen this stretch of Commonwealth Avenue united. People were cheering in the streets. The T was honking down Comm Ave. This is Boston's school.

The only sad part about this whole thing is that it's over. I came to school at BU in the fall of 2006. Chris Higgins, Jason Lawrence, Matt Gilroy, John McCarthy, Brandon Yip ... they were all sophomores back then. To see what they've developed into three years later is awesome. BU loses a huge crop of talent including Colin Wilson. He will be in the NHL next year. He's ready. We'll miss all of them. But they have very bright futures ahead of them. Each one. (And I'm hoping Pittsburgh grabs a few. They have a knack for Boston boys)

Maybe we should say a quiet thank you to Jack Falla, the hockey loving author, BU professor and Sports Illustrated writer who passed away unexpectedly in September, or Meryl Starr Herman, an avid supporter of BU hockey who died that same month. It certainly seemed throughout the entire season that they had a little extra help from someone up there.

2009-2010 will certainly be a little bit of a transition year. The good thing is, they have a great freshman class right now with guys like Millan, Dave Warsofsky and Vinny Saponari. You'll get another year out of Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk (maybe two more), and hopefully Brian Strait will stick around too. There is a lot to look forward too. But why even bother looking to then. What happened last night was one of the greatest games in hockey. It took 59 seconds to teach everyone the important lesson of not giving up. I'm going to enjoy for a long, long time. What a season.

Burn the boats, boys.

For more recaps, photos and video visit: USCHO, College Hockey News, Terrier Hockey Blog.

Photo Credit.



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