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Roman Augustoviz / Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Published April 05 2012

Boston College knocks out Gophers in NCAA Frozen Four

TAMPA, Fla. – Boston College knows how to win games in the Frozen Four.

The Eagles won national titles in 2008 and 2010 and they are one victory away from a third big, shiny trophy in five years. The top seed in this year’s tournament beat the Gophers 6-1 on Thursday night in the second national semifinal at the Tampa Bay Times Forum before an announced crowd of 18,605.

Boston College, in its 23rd Frozen Four, will play Ferris State, a first-timer in this event, on Saturday for the championship. The Bulldogs beat

Union College 3-1 in the first semifinal.

The Eagles (32-10-1) broke open a 2-0 game with two goals in the last four minutes of the second period.

The Gophers (28-14-1) started well, outshooting BC 10-5 in the opening period, but the Eagles capitalized on the first good chance they had to take a 1-0 lead.

Barry Almeida crisply centered a pass to the edge of the crease, which Steven Whitney tipped in for his 14th goal. It came six minutes into the game.

The Eagles only had two shots in the first 10 minutes. So except for that miscue, the Gophers were neutralizing the top seed’s speed and playmaking ability.

Trouble was, the Gophers – like Air Force and Minnesota-Duluth – were having a difficult time getting the puck past Eagles goalie Parker Milner. He came in with back-to-back shutouts.

Milner robbed Gophers captain Taylor Matson with 49 seconds left in the period on a short-range shot from the right circle. He knocked it down with his glove and covered it.

In the second period, Nick Bjugstad had an early power-play chance in front, but Milner was there.

BC got the next power play – when defenseman Nate Schmidt was called for hooking – and needed just eight seconds to score again. The Eagles won the faceoff in the Gophers end, drawing it back to defenseman Tommy Cross at the right point. He slid it over to the other side to Kevin Hayes, a bit lower on the other side, for a quick shot and a 2-0 lead at 6:35 of the second period.

It kept getting worse after that. Gophers defenseman Jake Parenteau mishandled the puck near his blue line and BC had a 2-on-1. Chris Kreider finished it with his 23rd goal.

With 17 seconds left in the period, the Eagles kept coming. This time Pat Mullane carried the puck in and three Gophers went his direction. As he was being hauled down, he passed to linemate Paul Carey trailing on the play.

Patterson also followed Mullane and was covering the left post. Carey had a mostly empty net and easily found it.

Jake Hansen ruined Milner’s shutout with a goal from the blue paint at 1:26 of the third period. That made the score 4-1.

But 22 seconds later, Carey was tormenting the Gophers again with his second goal. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin scored on a power play at 5:51 on a shot that appeared to go off defenseman Justin Holl’s stick.

Thursday’s result was a disappointing end to a turnaround season for the Gophers. After finishing seventh twice and fifth twice in the WCHA race the past four seasons, they won the conference regular-season title and advanced to their first Frozen Four since 2005.

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