DETROIT -- Wisconsin was embarrassed, humiliated, run out of the building.
Same for its hockey team.
|BC goalie John Muse gives up only one goal in the Frozen Four en route to his second title. (AP)|
It couldn't do either in a 5-0 BC win that will be remembered for what wasn't present. Support, primarily, for Wisconsin whose fans were clearly out-yelled by approximately 100 RIT fans who stayed around from Thursday's semifinal rout by the Badgers for some payback.
"It's embarrassing," said Brendan Lenz, an RIT senior wearing glasses and a crazed look on his face, "when we have to get their own fans going."
The Badgers themselves certainly weren't helping. The nation's No. 2 offense was shut out for the third time this season -- that included Blake Geoffrion, who was practically invisible the day after winning college hockey's Heisman, the Hobey Baker Award. The embarrassment spread to the Wisconsin defensemen, five of whom have been drafted.
With the third consecutive Frozen Four blowout in three days taking shape, Lenz and his student union were the most entertaining part of the evening. They saluted themselves with chants of "RIT, RIT", the tournament "Frozen Four, Frozen Four" and shirtless Wisconsin fans -- "Jersey Shore, Jersey Shore." What this weekend did for competitiveness -- which was nothing, considering the cumulative 18-goal margin of victory in the three games -- it made up for innovation.
Cavernous Ford Field swallowed up the cheers of all but a handful of the orange-clad RIT fans who didn't have team to root for. Instead, they rooted against Wisconsin, which beat their Tigers 8-1 on Thursday. It was rude, entertaining and in some small way had to help Boston College.
"I heard them," BC sophomore forward Cam Atkinson said. "Playing in a football stadium it's hard to hear everyone but the RIT fans were making some good noise. It's good to have more fans rooting for us."
Not that BC needed the strange support. It continues to rule hockey in April like the SEC rules football in January. The Eagles have been in four of the last five Frozen Fours, winning two of them. They finished with a flourish, going undefeated in the final 13 games while trailing for a total of 55 seconds.
It is ruling in strange ways. Coach Jerry York makes a habit of recruiting small, quick forwards. Six of Boston College's forwards are listed at 5-foot-9 or under. Two years ago, 5-5 Nathan Gerbe was the most outstanding player of the Frozen Four after getting eight points in two games. Atkinson is only 5-8 (no way) and 175 pounds (maybe with a couple of dumbbells in his hands) and his two goals Saturday gave him 30 for the season.
"The advantage of smaller guys is we're quicker, we have a little more leverage down low," Atkinsojn said. "Big guys come in handy sometimes but when you have small guys moving all the time, it's hard for big guys to contain."
It works for BC which has 5-7 NHL veteran Brian Gionta (class of 2001) as its poster boy. York even "stole" Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves' two sons, Mike and Ben, who both played for BC in the past. The philosophy has translated into three national titles for York at BC.
Goalie John Muse (5-11, 180) is actually one of the giants. He will be remembered for two things Saturday: two national championships and one goal. The title was his second, following the '08 championship he won as a freshman. The one goal? That's all he gave up in two games here.
Muse will remember how he got back to this championship place. He underwent offseason hip surgery a year ago following an inconsistent sophomore season. The doctors told him he'd be on crutches for two weeks. When he woke up, the doctors informed him they had found more damage than expected. The crutch verdict was changed to nine weeks. It was an amazing recovery for both player and team. Twelve days ago, BC got here because Muse held Yale under nine.
The Eagles needed every bit of Muse in a 9-7 regional final win over the Bulldogs. Now he is 8-0 in his career in NCAA tournament games.
When a championship still hung in the balance at 1-0, Wisconsin's Michael Davies had a clear-cut breakaway from the blue line in with 5:50 left in the second period.
Everyone needs an excuse so here is Wisconsin's at that point: The ice. The accursed ice where they play football and tried to play hockey here this weekend. It has to be the ice where they needed 4,000 gallons of anti-freeze and 800 pounds of ammonia (among other ingredients) just to create the rink. The uneven ice caused the puck to hop over Davies' stick as he bore down on Muse and he never got the shot off. Maybe it was the football gods' one final curse for bringing hockey into this building.
"Was it the best ice?" Eaves aid. "It was slow and soft, but both teams had to play on it."
Only one team danced off of it. The tiny Eagles had just won the game's biggest prize. Again. Only BC and few rag-tag RIT fans had to figure out how to party on.
"That's a good question," said Atkinson who, at 20, is two months away from his first legal drink. "We're going to have some fun, though."