Boston College wins NCAA hockey title

Apr 13, 2008 - 4:12 AM By Dave Reed PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- Nathan Gerbe took out his frustrations on Notre Dame.

One day after coming up short for the Hobey Baker Award, Gerbe scored two goals and set up two others to lead Boston College to a 4-1 triumph over Notre Dame on Saturday and its third NCAA hockey championship.

Sophomore Ben Smith added a goal and two assists and Brian Gibbons set up a pair of tallies for the Eagles (25-11-8), which had lost in the title game each of the previous two years.

Freshman John Muse made 20 saves for Boston College, which also won the national championship in 1949 and 2001 and improved to 57-15 over the last 11 postseasons - the best record among all Division I schools.

"I'd like to congratulate Boston College for an outstanding game," Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. "I thought they had us on our heels early on with their speed. I was a little bit surprised that our team played a little bit too cautious. I thought that we could have made some plays that we didn't."

Kevin Deeth scored the lone goal for the Fighting Irish (27-16-4), who pulled off huge upsets over New Hampshire, defending champion Michigan State and top-ranked Michigan to reach the title game for the first time in school history.

"It's great for the sport when you have a school like that that can play hockey at its highest level," Boston College coach Jerry York said. "It's a great benefit for all of us in college hockey. ... They're going to be one of those brand-name schools in hockey."

Gerbe, who recorded a hat trick in Boston College's 6-1 triumph over North Dakota on Thursday, watched Michigan's Kevin Porter walk away with the Hobey Baker Award on Friday. The junior made Notre Dame pay, snapping a scoreless tie with goals 3:14 apart early in the second period.

"He's just a special, special player," Smith said of his 5-5, 165-pound linemate. "He's dynamic, he's physical. I'm glad he's on my team."

"He's a dynamic player," Jackson added. "As much respect that I have for Kevin Porter, if they named the Hobey Baker (winner) after this weekend, they may have changed their mind. ... He plays with a lot of jam and skill and has good instincts."

After receiving a pass from behind the net by Gibbons, Gerbe beat goaltender Jordan Pearce high to the stick side from the left faceoff dot at 2:23 for a 1-0 lead. Just over three minutes later, the 20-year-old doubled the lead with a diving effort.

Smith's shot from the slot went right and caromed off the end boards. Near the right goalpost, Gerbe smacked the puck past Pearce during a man advantage at 5:37.

Gerbe then set up Joe Whitney's power-play tally at 8:11 before making a backhand pass from behind the net to Smith, who beat goaltender Jordan Pearce with a one-timer that glanced off a defenseman's stick at 5:31 of the third to cap the scoring.

"I have no idea how it went in," Smith said. "I was lying on my back, I think, and I saw Gerbe coming toward me with his hands up. ... It was a huge shift in the game to get that goal."

With five goals - including both game-winners - and three assists in the Frozen Four, Gerbe was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

"It's just numbers to me," Gerbe said of his statistics. "The biggest thing is that trophy that is right next to us. We'll do whatever it takes to get that. ... Tonight's another night everyone just stepped up to get a championship."

Notre Dame got within 3-1 just 56 seconds after Whitney's goal, as Deeth took a cross-ice feed from Kyle Lawson and beat Muse with a wrist shot from the left circle.

Muse, who improved to 8-0 in the postseason, started all 44 games and played every minute for the Eagles this campaign. While leading the nation with just over 2,725 minutes played, he also set the school record for saves in a season with 1,171.

"John's been unbelievable," Gerbe said. "He's an elite goalie. He's been that way all year. He's one of the most poised kids I have ever met."

Notre Dame nearly closed the gap to 3-2 at 4:56 of the third period. But the goal was waved off by the replay officials, who ruled Lawson intentionally kicked Ian Cole's pass into the net.

"I felt the puck hit my skate and then they went to the replay," Lawson said. "I didn't know what the review was going to be. It was a tough break for us."

"I think that was the turning point for us," Jackson said. "I thought we had something going at that time and I thought we were doing a much better job with the puck."

Muse agreed.

"That was a huge turning point in the game," he said. "I thought the guy (Lawson) put his skates together to try to knock the puck into the net."

Just 37 seconds later, Smith tallied to give the Eagles a three-goal bulge.

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