NCAA Frozen Four Notebook
D Rises as Sneep Goes Down
Shorthanded Eagle blueline held Notre
Dame at bay
By Inside College
|Mike check: Boston
College captain Mike Brennan and his defensive teammates
stood tall in front of goaltender John Muse.
DENVER – While Boston College freshman
defenseman Nick Petrecki has garnered much of the recent
attention on the blue line due to his physical play, sophomore
Carl Sneep has had just as strong of an NCAA tournament.
After taking a shot off his right ankle in
the first period, though, Sneep’s night was over.
He was carried off the ice by Nathan Gerbe and Brian Gibbons
with 3:24 to play in the first, and the Eagles used a five-man
rotation on the blue line from there on out.
“Our defense did an awesome job,”
said Sneep, who still found his way onto the ice when the
Eagles celebrated by goalie John Muse after the final buzzer.
“It’s not easy to play with five defensemen.
They did a great job of picking me up.
“I took a shot in the ankle. …
I felt the initial pain. I took some pressure off my foot
then put [it] back down at a weird angle. Then I got hit
at the same time and twisted it.”
Sneep’s teammates weren’t made
aware he wouldn’t return until the first intermission,
but senior defenseman Mike Brennan relied on logic once
Sneep hit the deck at the left circle in the BC zone.
“He couldn’t even get up,”
Brennan said. “I think the D corps just kind of rallied
around it and said, ‘You know what, he might be out.
We’ve got a full game to play still, and we’ve
got to go out and stick to what we need do.’ And that’s
Of course, it helps to be prepared to handle
such a situation. The Eagles shifted lines all season, and
they weren’t exactly strangers to losing players –
by injury or other reasons – all season long. Plus,
the team already knows its five-man rotations in case someone
“As a D corps, we kind of just said
we have to keep things simple,” Brennan said.
“We were going to be out there logging
a lot of minutes. You can’t be as physical as you
want to be because you’ve got to keep things simple
and move pucks. That’s exactly what we wanted to do.
That was our goal. Carl Sneep is a great player, and he
is one of our big-time defensemen back there. When he went
down, it was a little bit of an eye opener, but this team
is never fazed ever. Whatever the score is, whatever happens
in a game, we always stick to our objectives, and that’s
exactly what we did.”
The defensive effort remained solid throughout
the night. The Eagles held the Irish to eight shots in each
of the next two periods, and Notre Dame had just six Grade
A chances all night, with three coming after Sneep left
“I thought they were pretty tough all
game long,” Notre Dame senior forward Mark Van Guilder
said. “And when [Sneep] went down, I think you had
five guys over there that picked up their play like we have
in the past when we had a key player go down. It’s
really too bad getting hurt in a game like this, but his
teammates responded really well and picked up the slack
for him. They were really good in their end tonight.”
— Jeff Howe
|Distinct scoring motion?: Had
Kyle Lawson's goal not been waved off, the Irish would
have pulled within a goal with more than 15 minutes
remaining in the third.
Kyle Lawson’s third-period goal was
disallowed, which was bad news for Notre Dame. What made
it even worse was that Boston College scored 35 seconds
later, stretching its lead to 4-1 in the national championship
The Fighting Irish said they spent the long
review break telling each other to keep playing hard, regardless
of which way the decision went. Perhaps that was easier
said than done.
“I thought we had them covered up pretty
good,” Irish defenseman Brock Sheahan said of the
ensuing shift, “but giving up that goal is huge. It
kills any momentum we would’ve had.”
Sheahan, a senior, was disconsolate about
his performance in general, and he was particularly upset
about that first shift after the video review. The Irish
gained possession, but Sheahan had a point shot blocked,
sending the Eagles the other way. The puck eventually found
Ben Smith in front of the net, and his shot rode up Sheahan’s
stick, off his shoulder, and floated over goalie Jordan
Pearce, who only caught a glimpse of it.
“If I don’t shoot that puck like
I shouldn’t have and they don’t put that in,
we keep coming, and who knows what happens after that?”
Most Notre Dame players hadn’t seen
the replay of Lawson’s no-goal when interviewed minutes
after the game. But they had been through similar situations
before, having a goal waved off against Michigan State in
the West Regional final. They felt confident that they could
bounce back from Saturday’s setback, too.
“A two-goal lead is the worst lead in
hockey,” Irish forward Dan Kissel said. “Then
you get down three, it’s 4-1 and you’ve gotta
score three goals. It puts you down.”
Trying to battle back from a 3-0 deficit was going to be
tough enough, but having referee Todd Anderson signal no
goal made the hill that much steeper.
“Obviously, you hope it goes your way,”
Pearce said. “But you kind of knew the longer it took,
you have the feeling that if there’s something there,
they would have called it a goal right away.
“It’s human nature to be disappointed
and come down a little bit, but you have to fight that natural
— James Jahnke
Boston College freshman goalie John Muse said
he knew right away Kyle Lawson’s third-period goal
shouldn’t have counted, but Muse readied himself for
disappointment. Rather than taking the chance of psyching
himself up only to end up crashing down if the official’s
review went the other way, Muse prepared for the worst.
“I didn’t think it was a goal
when I saw it just because it looked like he moved his skates
to direct the puck to the net,” Muse said. “Luckily,
they saw the same thing and disallowed it.
“I just figured it would be a goal.
I didn’t want to [think it was] a no-goal, so I’d
get disappointed when they said it was a goal [after the
review]. I just took it as they scored and we were up by
one. It was real nice to have them disallow it.”
BC senior captain Mike Brennan wasn’t
sure what to think, but he originally assumed the goal would
count and it would be a 3-2 game with 15:04 to play in the
“I didn’t even know they were
going to review it because I thought it had hit one of our
guys’ skates, so we went out there like nothing was
going to change and just focused on the next shift,”
Brennan said. “When I talked to the linesman, he said
‘I saw it hit [Lawson’s] skate.’ It wasn’t
a hard shot, so it had to be some kind of kicking motion,
I thought, so I was just waiting for the result. Luckily,
it wasn’t a goal. I haven’t seen the replay
yet, so I couldn’t make the judgment on it.”
— Jeff Howe
Story: BC's Charmed Life
Nathan Gerbe and the Eagles finally got
the chance to celebrate in their third straight trip
to the national title game.
Larry Radloff's best shots from the title
SEEN AND HEARD AT THE PEPSI CENTER
• Call us pessimists, but was anyone
else slightly concerned that the outcome of the national
championship game may have hinged on the judgment of the
WCHA replay official in Denver? If the aforementioned reference
eludes you, ask any Wisconsin fan for an explanation.
• Maybe Boston College wasn’t
taunting the hockey gods, but it certainly was poking them
with a stick when the team’s sports information director
put a photo of the NCAA championship trophy atop the Eagle
line charts for Saturday’s game.
• Ol’ Mo is a fickle, fickle character.
Just check out what happened during this stretch of four-plus
minutes in the second period:
The sequence started 5:37 into the second
period when BC’s Nathan Gerbe scored his second goal
of the game. Notre Dame was hit with a minor penalty shortly
thereafter, had two prime scoring chances during the ensuing
penalty kill, then received another minor penalty. Joe Whitney
scored a power-play goal for the Eagles at 8:11 to make
the score 3-0, but Kevin Deeth got the Irish on the board
with an even-strength goal at 9:07.
• For a guy who left the game with an
injury that, at the time, was termed a lower leg injury,
Boston College sophomore defenseman Carl Sneep managed to
get some serious air during the Eagles’ on-ice celebration.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Sneep, who said he actually sprained
his ankle late in the first period, vaulted to the top of
the flock of players celebrating in one end of the rink.
At one point, the Nisswa, Minn., native appeared to be lying
atop the pile.
“I couldn’t feel a thing,”
Sneep said of his wonky ankle. “It was pretty exciting.
I was so happy.”
• Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson on Nathan
Gerbe: “He’s a dynamic player. As much respect
as I have for Kevin Porter, if they named the Hobey Baker
after this weekend, they may change their mind. He was a
tremendous player on the weekend and on the biggest stage.
He’s a heck of a player, and God bless the small guy.
He plays fearless, and he plays with a lot of jam and skill
and good instincts. He’s a heck of a hockey player.
He reminds me of another guy that used to play for BC, Brian
Gionta, although he might even be quicker than Brian.”
• The Boston College penalty kill was
again spectacular, killing all eight of Notre Dame’s
power plays. The Eagles also killed eight against North
Dakota in the Frozen Four semifinals and shut down 24 of
25 in the NCAA tournament. The only power-play goal BC allowed
came against Minnesota, when Ben Gordon scored at 16:33
of the third period. But even that goal took nearly three
minutes for officials to finally review and allow it.
“Going into this tournament, we know
we’re going to have to kill penalties,” BC senior
defenseman Mike Brennan said. “Maybe we took a little
too many than we wanted to take there, but we knew we were
going to kill them. The biggest thing was having confidence
in the PK when they’re out there. The same thing with
the power play. When the power play went out there, we knew
we were going to score a goal. The biggest thing was blocking
shots and being tenacious.”
• Boston College was definitely the
favored team coming into this game, but the score was tied
0-0 after the first period and the slower, defensive-minded
play was more suited to Notre Dame. It was reminiscent of
last year’s Michigan State championship march.
“We know they like to play that style,
sit back and try to bore you a little bit,” Gerbe
said. “It’s the same style Michigan State played
last year, and we choked on it last year. It’s one
thing we weren’t going to choke on it this year. We
were going to sit back with them and wait for them to make
a mistake, play their game and take it to them.”
• Gerbe on winning the title: “I
think the biggest thing is now I can call myself a winner.
Last year, you can’t call yourself a winner. You can
call everyone in that locker room winners no matter what.
If you’re on the fourth line, a backup goalie, you’re
still a champion. You’re still a winner.”
• More Gerbe minutiae … uh, maybe
that’s a poor choice of words. Anyway, Gerbe’s
five goals against North Dakota and Notre Dame were the
most by a Frozen Four participant since Boston University’s
Dave Silk scored five back in 1997. He’s the 12th
player to score five or more Frozen goals in a single season.
Gerbe’s seven goals in four games matches the NCAA
tournament record held by three players. The most recent
to accomplish the feat – Boston University’s
Tony Amonte in 1990. And in three career games against Notre
Dame, Gerbe has scored nine points (five goals and four
assists), including two goals and two assists Saturday.
|Standing tall: Nathan
Gerbe (right) took to the air to celebrate Boston College's
• In the Boston College locker room
following the game, a member of the team’s training
staff mockingly asked Gerbe, the obvious focus of media
attention at the Frozen Four, in a reporter’s tone,
“How does a guy as short as you win a national championship?”
“I used to be short,” Gerbe replied,
“but now I’m a champion.”
• Among those spotted at the Pepsi Center
Saturday was Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis. Based
on the outcome of the championship game, the fewest goals
scored by the Irish in its four NCAA tournament games, we’re
guessing he had a hand in the offense.
"It shows how special Notre Dame is.
There's so much camaraderie," goalie Jordan Pearce
said. "Charlie Weis coming out to support our team,
you know, I'm sure we'd do the same. We enjoy going to football
games and cheering them on. I don't know if you get that
at other places, but Notre Dame is just a big family."
• Three weeks ago no one outside of
the home locker room at the Joyce Center expected Notre
Dame to the brink of the school's first hockey championship.
That said, the Irish aren't looking at the second-place
finish as a reason to celebrate."Just because we were
a fourth-seeded team doesn't mean we were just happy to
get here," Notre Dame senior forward Brock Sheahan
said. "All year long, I thought we were one of the
better teams in the country."
• This year’s Frozen Four title
game marks the fourth in a row and fifth in six years in
which the losing team scored one goal. The lone offender
of the bunch was Boston in 2004, where Denver beat Maine,
• Saturday’s attendance at the
Pepsi Center was 18,632. Frankly, we don’t care where
that ranks in the tournament annals. We’re just thankful
that the attendance factoids will be rendered moot when
Detroit’s Ford Field hosts the Frozen Four in two
• The championship game started at 5
p.m. local time. It was odd to see the sun pouring through
the many large windows located throughout the Pepsi Center
concourse as fans circled the arena in the third period.
• Signs posted outside the entrances
to the Pepsi Center suites welcomed the groups occupying
the spaces. Our favorite belonged to a suite occupied by
a dozen Air Force alums who dubbed themselves the Barry
Melrose Fan Club.
• Someone needed to tell ESPN analyst
Bob Norton to pipe down. The New England-based Norton, seated
just outside of the Pepsi Center media room, shouted out
congratulations to Boston College cronies as they walked
past and also participated in an impromptu sing-a-long to
the school’s fight song. His actions were, at best,
• Speaking of the media, sending two
Pepsi Center staffers delivering two dozen postgame pizzas
to the Boston College locker room was not a good decision.
this is like telling Daniel Day-Lewis he’s a good
actor, but in a tournament in which the majority of name
players were ineffective or, even worse, invisible, BC’s
Nathan Gerbe was sensational, turning in the most memorable
Frozen Four performance since Minnesota’s Thomas Vanek
electrified fans in Buffalo in 2003.
Mile-High stick salute to the NCAA, the Denver Metro Sports
Commission, and the University of Denver for the job it
did in organizing this year’s Frozen Four. If it wasn’t
the best-run Frozen in recent memory, it’s very high
on the list. Special mention to University of Denver media
relations director Erich Bacher, one of the college game’s
really good guys.
didn’t end up costing the Eagles, but the slashing
penalty Boston College forward Andrew Orpik took in the
second period – just 28 seconds after Nathan Gerbe
scored to give BC a 1-0 lead – was undisciplined and
the second time this weekend, the bands representing the
competing teams were seated opposite the school’s
fans, which would seem like an easy fix. Also, the band’s
music was piped through the Pepsi Center sound system, which
amplified it but also caused a strange reverb effect that
made the tunes difficult to hear.
What's next for Boston College is legitimate
thoughts of another national title. Barring any unforseen
early departures, the Eagles will bring back all but four
players – forwards Dan Bertram, Pat Gannon, Matt Greene
and defenseman Mike Brennan – from this year's squad.
They'll also regain the services of Brock Bradford, who
missed all but five games during his junior season because
of an arm injury.
Junior forward Nathan Gerbe has some thinking
to do. There’s no real consensus on Gerbe’s
future depending who you ask. Some think he’ll leave
early. Others have said he’s been advised to stick
around for his senior season.
“There’s always a decision to
make, whether you’re going to come back or leave,”
Gerbe said. “That’s something I’m going
to put behind me now while I’m going to enjoy this
with our team. That’s where I am at in the present.”
Notre Dame's outlook is similarly bright.
The Fighting Irish will also lose a quartet o players in
forwards Evan Rankin and Mark Van Guilder and defensemen
Brock Sheahan and Dan VeNard, and they'll have a healthy
Erik Condra to start next season. The end result was disappointing,
but coach Jeff Jackson appears to be on the verge of building
a college hockey powerhouse in northwest Indiana.
— Mike Eidelbes and Jeff Howe