TAMPA, Fla. - A span of 2:24 at the end of the second period of last night's national semifinal changed the tone of the game.
With about 2:40 left in the period, Boston College had a 2-0 lead, but was being hammered by Minnesota. Goaltender Parker Milner grabbed a shot from Jake Hansen at point-blank range, sparking a change in momentum.
The Eagles then scored two quick goals, mounting a four-goal lead that proved to be insurmountable, as they went on to a 6-1 victory.
"When it went from two to four in a two-minute period, that was the game," said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia.
With 2:15 left in the period, freshman Destry Straight approached the right side of the net, drawing Patterson and the defender to him, then passed to Chris Kreider on the other side of the goal. Kreider tucked the puck in for his 23rd goal of the season.
It took just two minutes for BC to add another goal. With just 16 seconds left in the frame, assistant captain Paul Carey made it a four-goal game. Freshman Johnny Gaudreau was hauled down as he reached the net and slid a pass along to Carey, who flipped it into the largely empty net.
"I kinda got hauled down from behind and I was just trying to throw it back towards the front of the net and, luckily, it went through a couple of defensemen's legs and hit Paul Carey back door," Gaudreau said. The difference between a two-goal lead and being up four goals was apparent in both BC's and Minnesota's demeanors. The Eagles seemed to pick up the energy, while the Golden Gophers lost it. Minnesota did come back to tally a goal in the opening minutes of the third period, but BC responded quickly to maintain the momentum.
Minnesota forward Jake Hansen took a centering pass from linemate Erik Haula and sent it past Parker Milner, ending the goaltender's stint of 161:26 scoreless minutes in the tournament.
Neither Milner nor the rest of the Eagles let their first goal allowed in the tournament phase them. It took just 22 seconds for them to respond. Freshman Johnny Gaudreau took his favorite position behind the net and fed a pass out to Carey, who sent a wrister over Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson's shoulder.
"The energy was really changing there," BC head coach Jerry York said of the few seconds between the goals. "We had a bounce-back goal by Paul and that was a key key goal for us."
Now up 5-1, the Eagles still were not done. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin got the puck from Kreider at the left point and fired a shot at the goal. The puck deflected off Minnesota defenseman Justin Holl's stick and into the net - the sixth goal.
BC first got on the board 6:02 into the first period, thanks largely to the speed of forwards Barry Almeida and Steven Whitney. Almeida got the puck and skated past one defender, while Whitney beat out the other two in a race towards the goal. Whitney then fired the puck past Patterson.
Forward Kevin Hayes scored what became the game winner 6:35 into the second period, just eight seconds into BC's first power play of the night. Whitney set Hayes up with a picture perfect pass, landing right on the junior's stick. Hayes sent the puck upstairs past Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson's blocker.
Though it was BC who did most of the scoring, Minnesota outshot the Eagles in each of the first two periods. The Gophers got a total of 31 shots to Milner.
Despite letting in his first goal of the period, Milner shined for the Eagles.
"Parker Milner made some very timely saves early in the game," York said. "They had some excellent opportunities to score, not just one but multiple times. Parker was just big in the net, he was very confident and just really fueled us to stay in the game."
At the end of the first period, Minnesota threatened to tie it up with a few good chances, but Milner stood strong.
Shortly after BC's goal, Minnesota grabbed a turn over in the neutral zone, creating a two-on-one opportunity. Forward Nate Condon fired off a shot, but Milner made the save.
A few minutes later, Condon attacked again. He found a loose puck in front of the net and attempted a turnaround goal, but Milner made a great kick save to preserve the lead.
The Golden Gophers then almost tied it up with 49 seconds left in the frame. Nick Bjugstad drew Milner to the left side of the net and then fired a pass to Taylor Matson at the netminder's open left foot. Milner dove across the net to make the glove save.
"Looking at the game, it was timely saves by our goaltender, opportunistic scoring and then that bounce-back goal were the keys," York said.
Video: Postgame Reaction BC Head Coach Jerry York (YouTube)
Video: Postgame Reaction BC Senior Barry Almeida (YouTube)
Video: Postgame Reaction BC Senior Tommy Cross (YouTube)
Video: Postgame Reaction BC Junior Parker Milner (YouTube)
Video: Postgame Reaction BC Junior Chris Kreider (YouTube)