April 5, 2007
NCAA Frozen Four Notebook
BC's Sophomores Shine
Bradford, Ferriero, Gerbe spark Eagles to title game return

By Joe Gladziszewski, Jeff Howe, and Jess Myers

Boston College sophomore forward Brock Bradford didn't score on this shot, but the Eagles' second-year skaters had a productive night in the team's 6-4 win against North Dakota.

ST. LOUIS – The Boston College sophomores won’t exploit each other’s off-ice activities out of fear that they’ll get served a not-so-sweet dish of revenge. But, they have no problem talking about their conquests on the ice.

Once again, the super slew of sophomores came up large for the Eagles, who knocked out North Dakota, 6-4, in a wild Frozen Four contest Thursday night. Headlined by Nathan Gerbe’s two goals and two assists, the group combined for a seven-point night and figured in on four of the team’s goals.

“You want to stick together,” said Gerbe, who admits he feels a sense of pride when one of his classmates lights the lamp. “When Benn [Ferriero] or Brock [Bradford] scores or any of our sophomores, you always want to give them credit.”

Gerbe, Bradford and Ferriero are the top three goal scorers on the team and have a combined 67 tallies this season to go along with 137 points.

“They’re a huge part of the team,” senior captain Brian Boyle said. “They came on a little bit last year as freshmen, but this year, they’re a special group. They really can change a game for us.”

They did just that against North Dakota. With the game tied 3-3, Bradford fed Gerbe in the slot, and Gerbe blasted a wrister past Philippe Lamoureux at 15:54 of the third period. Gerbe then added an empty netter with 5.5 seconds to play to cap off a wild finish.

His go-ahead strike was even more meaningful to Ferriero, though. The Eagles took a 3-2 lead with 7:00 remaining. With BC on the power play a couple minutes later, Ferriero coughed up the puck behind Cory Schneider, and T.J. Oshie roofed it to knot the score.

“I was feeling pretty down,” Ferriero said. “I just gave the puck away on a turnover, and they scored and tied the game. After Nate scored that goal, it definitely made me feel a little bit better.”

“We know that he knows that we need him to win the game,” Gerbe said. “He came back and competed hard after that. It’s tough to do to come back like that. You kind of want to leave or something, but he played unbelievable for us.”

Eight of Boston College’s sophomores share a house together on campus, so they’re pretty used to each other by now. Ask them to share a story or two, and their eyes light up but their lips remain sealed.

“I don’t want to start any wars right now,” Bradford said. “We pull some pranks. We have a good time. Anything I say will be fired back at me, so I’ll keep it clean.”

“I’ll stay out of that,” Ferriero added. “That’ll come back to bite me.”

BC SPECIAL TEAMS FRUSTRATE SIOUX

North Dakota forward T.J. Oshie's shorthanded goal with 4:38 left in regulation tied the game at 3-3.

North Dakota scored a pair of power play goals and a shortie, but the Sioux acknowledged that their opponents’ mastery of the penalty kill and the Eagles’ repeated winning of special teams battles was the key to the game. One could see right from the start that North Dakota forwards were being effectively held to the perimeter and were rarely able to get traffic in front of Cory Schneider.

“They did a great job of minimizing our chances,” said North Dakota forward Ryan Duncan. “We did a good job of working the puck around but maybe we didn’t get it to the middle or the net as much as we’d like. They came in with a game plan and executed well, and they were just a little more sharp than we were.”

The Eagles score three power play goals, including the go-ahead goal just 32 seconds after Oshie’s short-hander had tied the game 3-3 with less than five minutes to play.

“It’s very frustrating,” Oshie said. “We pride ourselves on our special teams and tonight we lost that battle. Hats off to them. They did a great job.”

INCH's Three Stars of the Game

3. Jonathan Toews, North Dakota
The sophomore forward showed why he's such a highly regarded NHL prospect, beating defensemen off the rush with his incredible puck skills, fearlessly plowing to the net for rebounds, playing a physical game, and killing penalties. The next time you see him wearing a Native American crest on the front of his sweater, it might be that of the Chicago Blackhawks.

2. Nathan Gerbe, Boston College
When doesn't Gerbe play an enormous role in a Boston College win? He set up Ben Smith's goal with seven minutes left in regulation that gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead, then scored a little less than three minutes later to put BC back ahead at 4-3. He also iced the game with an empty-net goal with six seconds left.

1. Dan Bertram, Boston College
Twice North Dakota took leads, and twice Bertram was there to answer. Both of his goals were on the power play, and both were scored late in the period, keeping the Fighting Sioux from taking momentum into the locker room. He also played a key role on the penalty-killing unit when North Dakota was pressing for the game-tying goal late in regulation.

Related Coverage

Game Story: Eagles Return to Title Game
Boston College is in the NCAA championship game for the second straight season with another semifinal win over North Dakota.

SEEN AND HEARD AT THE SCOTTRADE CENTER

• North Dakota's T.J. Oshie and Boston College's Cory Schneider were teammates on Team USA during the World Junior Tournament in Vancouver last year and have faced each other on the ice in two consecutive Frozen Fours now. The North Dakota forward said he got exactly what he expected from his friend in maroon and gold.

“He’s a great goalie and plays great in big games,” Oshie said. “He played great against us last year. That was probably the first time I’ve scored against him in practice or in a game. He played great and we were expecting that.”

Oshie admitted that the roar may have been extra loud when he scored thanks to Blues fans in the crowd who are eager to see the first-round pick wearing the Bluenote sometime soon. While not hinting whether or not he’ll return to Grand Forks for another season, Oshie said he liked visiting his potential future office.

“It was nice to get to St. Louis for the first time and I had a good time here except for that last little bit tonight,” he said.

• After five straight NCAA titles, and appearances in the past seven title games, the WCHA’s 10 teams will all be spectators for Saturday’s final game. Reached outside the North Dakota locker room after his last hope’s loss, league commissioner Bruce McLeod expressed disappointment not only with the game’s result but the process that led up to it.

“Each year the odds grow against it continuing, but the process, the RPI, they made some tweaks in it and in the end it works against you,” McLeod said. “You look at the 16 teams that made the tournament, the 14 and then the two automatics, the next four teams were all WCHA teams.”

McLeod mentioned the pairings that put the WCHA’s top two teams at the end of the season, Minnesota and North Dakota, in the same region.

“I’m certainly disappointed and I guess maybe a little frustrated about the whole thing,” he said. “It was just one thing after another, and it kind of feels odd.”

He also acknowledged that after the 2005 Frozen Four in Columbus featured four WCHA teams, there’s no sympathy for his league outside the confines of the 10 teams he oversees.

“I’m certainly kind of sad, but life will go on and we’ll start a new streak,” McLeod said, with a grin.

• Brian Boyle was forced to change his skates with 15:17 remaining in the first period. He normally changes his skates during games, but during an intermission. Luckily for him, it happened right before a television timeout.

• Can't blame a guy for trying: Boston College forward Matt Greene tried to engage in a bit of skullduggery in the third period. After being kicked out of the face-off circle, Greene skated away slowly, then twirled back and headed toward the dot. He couldn't pull off the the trickery, however — he was tossed by one of the assistant referees a second time.

• College Hockey America, which is hosting this year's Frozen Four, may want to send the promotional video it showed on the Scottrade Center video board for editing prior to Saturday's title game. The spot included shots of the Air Force campus and the Falcons' logo. Air Force left the CHA at the end of last season for Atlantic Hockey.

PLUSSES AND MINUSES

In his post-game press conference, Boston College coach Jerry York summed up the sentiments of just about everyone at the Scottrade Center Thursday evening when he said, "It was great plays by great players. I hope you guys had as much fun watching as I did."

Indeed, the Eagles and Fighting Sioux put on a show that was as enjoyable a matchup as we've seen on college hockey's grandest stage in some time.

Great job by assistant referee John Philo, who intervened on Boston College's goal celebration after Nathan Gerbe scored with 4:06 remaining. The Eagles were huddled very close to the North Dakota bench, and Langseth stepped in and shuffled them along toward their own bench.

In North Dakota's West Regional first-round win against Michigan, Fighting Sioux goaltender Philippe Lamoureux stopped T.J. Hensick's breakaway attempt, then threw the puck in Hensick's general direction.

Tonight, Lamoureux peered through traffic to glove a Boston College shot, dropped the puck from his mitt, and swatted it out of mid-air with his paddle. The puck finally came to rest at BC goalie Cory Schneider's feet, some 180 feet from where it started its journey. We don't mind someone who plays with a little flair, but Lamoureu's line drive was uncalled for. He should've been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct or, at the very least, delay of game.

We expect the official scoring line to be changed once in a while, but it seemed like assists were modified for nearly goal scored today. We know the official scorers are under pressure to get the information to the public address announcer and such, but take the time to get it right the first time.

WHAT'S NEXT

For the first time since the dawn of time — maybe it just seems that way — there won't be a WCHA team in the national championship game. Instead, we're left with Michigan State and Boston College in a Big Ten-ACC matchup. What's that? Right, it's a CCHA-Hockey East tilt. Incidentally, both BC and MSU are chasing their third national championships — the Eagles won in 1949 and 2001, while the Spartans were winners in 1966 and 1986. And though the boys from the Heights are making their fourth championship game appearance since 2000, the drive to win a title now remains.

"This year, I feel like we're playing with that urgency that we didn't have last year," junior forward Dan Bertram said. "Now that we're on a roll, I feel like everybody's here for a reason."