Published April 11, 2010
The NCAA hockey championship trophy is headed back down Commonwealth Avenue.
Led by goalie John Muse, Boston College won the national title for the second time in three years, beating Wisconsin 5-0 in the final of the Frozen Four on Saturday night.
Muse made 20 save to improve to 8-0 in tournament play, including the national title run he made as a freshman in 2008.
When it was over Muse's teammates tossed their sticks and helmets into the air then swarmed the junior goaltender.
"Johnny Muse was clearly on the top of his game," BC coach Jerry York said.
BC won its fourth title and third since 2001, best in the nation over the last decade. The Eagles' top rival, Boston University, took home the championship last year. In college hockey's version of the Duke-North Carolina basketball rivalry, BU and BC are located just a few miles away from each other on the Green Line trolley that runs along Commonwealth Avenue.
This championship for Muse came almost a year after hip surgery, and the grueling rehabilitation that followed.
"There wasn't much pain, but it was long and tedious," he said. "I did it for these guys. I wanted to be back."
Cam Atkinson scored two of the Eagles' four third-period goals to back Muse.
Atkinson's first and Chris Krieder's goal came 2:02 apart early in the period and turned a one-goal game into a rout.
"We wanted to attack and be aggressive," York said. "We don't like to sit back and change our style of play with the score."
That mindset has helped put York in elite company with four national titles, including one with Bowling Green.
Just two coaches have more championships - Michigan's Vic Heyliger won six from 1948-56 and Denver's Murray Armstrong had five from 1958-1969 - and no one has more than York's 33 wins in the NCAA tournament.
"I've been at it a long time, so that helps," York said at the end of his 38th season as a head coach, and 16th leading the Eagles. "It's always good to coach good teams and good players, and I've had a whole bunch of those."
Wisconsin beat the Eagles in the 2006 finals for its sixth title, but didn't have much of a shot to stop BC's faster forwards, swarming defensemen and stellar goalie in the rematch.
"We got near the top of the mountain, but we weren't able to stick the flag at the top," Badgers coach Mike Eaves said.
Wisconsin forward Blake Geoffrion, grandson of Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, was shut down a day after winning the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's top player.
Geoffrion scored 28 goals this season to help Wisconsin enter the game with a nation-high 171 goals - averaging four a game - but he and his teammates struggled to get pucks and bodies near the net to make Muse sweat.
"They did a good job of blocking shots and collapsing down low," Geoffrion said.
Ben Smith, who won the most outstanding player award for the tournament, got BC's good night started with a goal 12:57 into the game.
After a scoreless second, the Eagles proved they weren't content to just sit back and play conservatively.
Atkinson started the flurry in the third and Matt Price finished it with an empty-net goal with 4:31 left while Scott Gudmandson was pulled briefly to add an extra skater. Gudmandson made 21 saves.
A world indoor attendance record was set for hockey with a crowd of 37,592 at the home of the NFL's Detroit Lions.
Wisconsin's Michael Davies had chances to score and perhaps could've blame the ice conditions for taking away his best opportunity in the second period when he whiffed on a breakaway after the puck bounced over his stick.
"It was soft, but both teams had to play on it," Eaves said.
The games at Ford Field will be remembered for record crowds and routs that matched the Frozen Four record of 18 for goal differential set in 1961.
An announced crowd of 34,954 for Thursday's two-game session smashed the Frozen Four record of 19,432 fans set in St. Louis three years ago and hockey's indoor mark of 28,183 from Tampa Bay's home game at Tropicana Field against Philadelphia during the 1996 NHL playoffs.
BC stunned top-seeded Miami of Ohio 7-1 and Wisconsin routed Rochester Institute of Technology 8-1 to advance to a game that was expected to be competitive.
The Eagles had other ideas, shutting out Wisconsin in another lopsided game that excited only for their fans in a football stadium that had a rink set up near an end zone.