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Boston College 6, Boston University 2: Hockey East Tournament Champions

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Boston, MA — The top-seeded Eagles matched up with arch rival Boston University for the Hockey East tournament crown, something that has alluded the program since 2012.

In their prior matchup with BU in TD Garden, the Eagles struggled to get things going in the first period, finding themselves in a hole early. BC made sure to use that prior experience to up their pace of play early, striking first.

The Eagles found themselves on the power play with a face-off in BU territory. With just under 15 minutes to go in the first, after winning the draw to Eamon Powell, the defensemen sent a pass to Cutter Gauthier, who found Will Smith out front of the top, promptly tipping it past BU goaltender Mathieu Caron.

Next up, at around 11 and a half minutes remaining, Gabe Perrault skated up the side into the BU zone, finding Will Smith, behind two BU defenders, burying the shot for his second of the game, giving BC the 2-0 lead.

About four-and-a-half minutes into the second period, BU defensemen, Gavin McCarthy fired a rocket past the glove side of Fowler, scoring his first goal of his career. The BC lead was now 2-1 with 15:36 remaining in the second.

The Eagles looked to settle down and push the pace, much like they did successfully in the previous period. As time wound down in the middle frame, Gauthier scored on a beautiful Ryan Leonard feed with a minute and 14 seconds remaining. This goal gave BC the two-goal advantage once again.

With 13:14 to go into the game, Ryan Leonard skated from the corner, went between two BU defended, and backhanded a pass to Will Smith who completed the hat trick on the night, extended the lead to 4-1. Following this, with under nine minutes remaining, BC found themselves on another power play. Gabe Perrault collected a rebound in front of the BU net and stuffed it home, extending BC’s lead to four, at 5-1.

The Terriers added a consolation goal with under five minutes left from Macklin Celebrini before BC ended the night with an empty netter with just under two minutes remaining icing their first Hockey East tournament championship since 2012.

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Boston College 4, Michigan 0; Eagles Are One Game Away From the National Championship

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Photo by Boston College Athletics

ST. PAUL MN. – When BC arrived in Minnesota for the Frozen Four, freshman forward Will Smith had 69 points on the season entering the weekend. Already having shattered the BC freshman point record weeks ago, Smith needed just one point to hit 70, tying the likes of Kyle Connor, and Jack Eichel during their freshman college campaigns. In front of a packed house in the state of hockey, Smith did just that. With his two goals Thursday night, Will Smith can be the highest-scoring freshman in the 21st century in BC’s next contest.

With their 4-0 win over the Wolverines (23-15-3) on Thursday, the Eagles (34-5-1) advance to the NCAA title game for the first time since 2012. A win would bring them their sixth title, tying them with Wisconsin for the third most all-time.

The game itself was broken open early by the Eagles. As they have all season, the USA line got BC going before Michigan was able to collect their bearings. After freshman forward Gabe Perreault launched a breakout pass to classmate Ryan Leonard streaking down the right wing, he sent a perfect saucer pass to Will Smith who hammered home the goal. That assist gave Leonard his 60th point of the season.

Following that early sequence, the Wolverines began skating with more pace. However, BC’s freshman goaltender and young blue-line were able to sniff out the majority of the Wolverine’s rush opportunities. Not only were BC’s defenders able to limit cross-crease opportunities throughout the contest, but they were able to thwart most of Michigan’s slot chances going into the first intermission.

Following a slate of continuous action in the second period, Will Smith struck again. At 12:25, Smith came from behind the Michigan cage and sent a puck toward the net. Deflecting off a Wolverine player and in, Smith’s goal doubled BC’s advantage and re-seized the momentum.

Less than a minute later, Cutter Gauthier buried his 38th goal of the season on a breakaway rush opportunity, tying the BC single-season goal-scoring record. After the game, Gauthier credited his defenders for stepping up against Michigan rush plays and creating counter-attacks for him and his teammates up ice.

“Just watching them all game long. You have the utmost confidence when three studs are coming down on them,” Gauthier said, “it was super fun to watch how great they were tonight.”

After the Gauthier goal, the teams skated in and out of the second intermission, and despite, a high-flying third period for Michigan, the theme continued for the Wolverines. They were pushed to the outside for most of the period, and the shots they took had little traffic in front making Jacob Fowler’s life easy.

On one play, freshman defenseman Aram Minnetian used his skating and agility to kill a 2-on-1 chance for the Wolverines and send a perfect breakout pass to his forwards up-ice.

The lone goal of the final period came at 5:03 when Gabe Perreault sprinted down the left wing and put a perfect wraparound chance past Michigan’s Jake Barczewski for his 60th point of the season. On the unassisted goal by Perreault, the BC fans in the Xcel Energy Center could feel that the game was wrapped up.

The Eagles would continue to shut the door down the stretch, giving Jacob Fowler the shutout, the first for a BC goaltender in the Frozen Four.

The future of this historic Eagles team is uncertain with plenty of faces bound for the NHL, but one thing is certain: BC will play for their sixth banner, a record among Boston schools, against Denver University at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday in St. Paul MN. airing live on ESPN2.

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Focusing on the Frozen Four: 2024 NCAA Semi-finalists Have Won a Combined Twenty-nine Titles

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Photo by Boston College Athletics

When the Boston College Eagles punched its ticket to the national semi-final with a close win over defending champion Quinnipiac University, it meant that the 2024 Frozen Four tournament would feature four of the most historic college programs in the country. Accumulating almost 30 combined titles throughout their history, it is no secret that these teams will ice the best talent in the country in a trio of games where memories will last a lifetime. Below is a preview of the Hobey Baker Award Ceremony scheduled for the weekend as well as what we can expect from the four teams hitting the ice on Thursday.

The Hobey Baker Award

What can we expect from this weekend’s action? Well during the off week, the finalists for the Hobey Baker Award were announced, and two of them are from Boston schools who will be playing in each of Thursday’s games.

The first finalist for the historic trophy is sophomore forward Jackson Blake of North Dakota. As a nifty playmaker who can play the wing or center-ice position, Blake is a guy who loves to get to the front of the net. The way he weaves through traffic in tight situations is second to none and is certainly a lock for immediate impact with the Carolina Hurricanes where he will play next season.

Freshman forward Macklin Celebrini is the first of the Hockey East’s two finalists for Hobey. As the youngest player in college hockey throughout this season, Celebrini has turned heads regardless of in-game outcomes. At only 17 years of age, Celebrini has amassed the second-leading PPG rate in the country, while boasting a complete game in all three zones. By playing this season in his draft year, Celebrini has cemented himself as the unanimously predicted #1 choice at this year’s NHL Draft.

Sophomore forward Cutter Gauthier represents BC as the league leader in goals scored. Born just outside of Phoenix, Gauthier wields an NHL-ready shot reminiscent of mutual hometown hero Auston Matthews, who is on his own record-breaking goal-scoring pace. By improving his 200-foot game, his play-making ability, and his resume in international competition, Gauthier joins the Hobey Finalists as the first Eagle since Johnny Gaudreau in 2014.

The Hobey Baker Ceremony will take place on Friday at the RiverCentre Convention Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, or live on NHL Network.

Team Preview: University of Michigan

Entering this year’s NCAA Tournament, the Wolverines came in as a lower seed, and only average in the pair-wise rankings. However, with the help of 2022 first-round draft picks Rutger McGroarty, Seamus Casey, and Frank Nazar III, the Wolverines are hot at a dangerous time. Also, with the help of former Eagle Marshall Warren on the blue line, the Wolverines have a veteran presence on the back end and in goal with Canisius transfer Jake Barczewski. Michigan has reached the Frozen Four in each of the last three seasons, and will certainly pose a challenge to BC in the late game.

Team Preview: Boston University

BC’s cross-town rival has been ready and waiting for a fight all season long. Joining BC in the Frozen Four for the first time in over 30 years, BU will inevitably pose a challenge to whatever team they face. Led by their starting junior goalie Mathieu Caron who had exceeded expectations in net, BU boasts the deepest blue line in all of college hockey. With sophomore defenseman Lane Hutson showing shades of a young Adam Fox, and graduate defenseman Cade Webber leading the nation in blocked shots, the Terriers’ defense has proved they can cause problems against the best teams in the country all season.

Team Preview: University of Denver

At the start of the season, Denver consistently iced the number one offense week in and week out. After getting the better of the Eagles in a 4-3 victory back in October, the Pioneers have taken a step out of the limelight following an injury to their top scorer, junior forward Massimo Rizzo. However, younger skaters have stepped up for the Pioneers. Freshman defenseman Zeev Buium posted the most points from a first-year blueliner throughout the season and has been an integral part of Denver’s high-flying offense all year. Under 2024 WJC gold medal-winning head coach David Carle, Denver’s mix of youth and experience will cause fits to whatever team they face.

Team Preview: Boston College

After graduate forward Jack Malone’s iconic game-winning goal over Quinnipiac that sent BC to the Frozen Four, new faces on BC’s roster took over the front page for one of the first times all season. Led by sensational freshman and sophomore forwards for most of the year, Eagle netminder Jacob Fowler emphasized post-game that “their talent speaks for itself.” But new players are proving themselves at the right times during post-season play where the Eagles have had to win hockey games in different ways. In addition to Malone’s brilliance in recent moments, BC has gotten momentum from freshman defenseman Aram Minnetian who has found the net twice in the playoffs, and senior forward Colby Ambrosio in the form of a relentless motor in all three zones. If the Eagles want to win either game in St. Paul this weekend, their bottom six must continue to step up.

Nevertheless, BC will play in their first Frozen Four matchup since 2016 at 8:30 p.m. ET against the Michigan Wolverines, in St. Paul MN. airing live on ESPN2.

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DiMauro: Jacob Lassner and his call of a lifetime

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The puck lay there on the ice of Providence, R.I., yet really was a foot away from St. Paul, MN. And the inflection in Jacob Lassner’s voice mirrored the thoughts, hopes and dreams of Boston College fans everywhere, praying for a Lazarus act from their hockey team early Easter evening.

Holy happenstance. Look at it. The puck is right there. Loose. It’s overtime, for heaven’s sake. Somebody shoot the damn thing, right?

And this is where Jack Malone, whose goal to beat Quinnipiac thrust him into BC lore and legend, arrived there with an unwitting partner. That would be Lassner, the WZBC student radio voice of the hockey Eagles, who authored the call of a lifetime.

“Here’s Fortescue at the point … takes a shot, tipped in front; save … rebound in front of the slot … SCOOOORE! SCOOOORE! JACK MALONE! JACK MALONE! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! OH, MY FREAKING GOD, BRENDAN! IT’S HAPPENING! IT’S HAPPENING! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! LET’S GOOO!”

The call had everything. It was organic, authentic, heartfelt and appropriately hysterical, given the urgency of the moment. The “Jack Malone! Jack Malone!” part was even a wink and a nod to “Matteau! Matteau!” – the great Howie Rose’s epic call of Stefan Matteau’s goal that ended the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals for the Rangers.

“I grew up listening to Howie Rose,” Lassner was saying Monday by phone, not 24 hours after BC’s 5-4 win. “I’m a Met fan and Islander fan. I met him when I was 10-years-old. I’ve listened to the Matteau call so many times. I saw a number of stories on MSG Network about it as a kid. To be compared in any way to that is unfathomable in my mind.”

And yet here we are. Lassner’s call was so intriguing that several folks in the media posted it to X on Monday morning, including WBZ sportscaster Dan Roche. The clip went viral enough so that Lassner’s Go Fund Me request to get the WZBC crew to the Frozen Four wasn’t merely reciprocated, but caught the fancy of the BC athletic department. Gold stars to athletic director Blake James for picking up the tab not only for WZBC, but the Heights as well.

So now Jacob Lassner, a kid who grew up not far from Grand Central Station, has his BC sports moment. Maybe it’s not there with Dan Davis’ classic call of Flutie to Phelan, but then not bad for a college junior.

“I’ve been playing and watching hockey my whole life. It’s always a dream of mine to do something in the sport,” Lassner said. “I go to a sleep away camp every summer. Two years ago, they hosted a roller hockey tournament with 800 people. I was a DJ at WZBC, vaguely interested in play by play. I got to do in stadium PA announcing. I’ve stuck with it ever since.”

If Howie Rose was an early inspiration for Lassner, then some random cab driver gets credit for the rest.

“I was in a cab on the way to a hockey game,” Lassner said. “The driver and I struck up this random conversation. I told him I was interested in sports broadcasting. I think he was from Morocco. So he stopped to show me this goal from a Moroccan League national soccer final. The announcer was repeating phrases and was super enthusiastic. I thought, ‘That’s the style I want to bring to hockey.’”

Turns out that WZBC had some issues beginning around 2010 that forced it to stop sports programming. This was news, given WZBC’s deep history that has produced top-of-the-profession talents Joe Tessitore, Bob Wischusen and Boog Sciambi in past years. Lassner, Brendan Mahoney, Reynolds Johnson and Gio Culotta decided to revive it. They even got a football game on WZBC-FM in the fall.

Lest anyone conclude there’s glory in college radio, well, put it this way: Those cushy broadcast locations from which we see Jim Nantz and Tony Romo? This is more chewing gum and chicken wire.

“A lot of away buildings don’t have the space to accommodate student broadcasters,” Lassner said. “We have a folding table in Conte. If you face the press box and look all the way to the right, there’s the WZBC Sports folding table and an extension cord.”

But then as the old line goes: The Titanic was built by professionals; Noah’s Ark by volunteers. And these volunteers went viral … and now are heading for St. Paul.

“I had to pace around the entire arena between the third period and overtime,” Lassner said. “I was on the phone with a friend going, ‘I can’t do this.’ I’ll tell you, it’s a dream come true for my younger self.”

Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s Class of 1990. He may be reached atm.dimauro@theday.com or @BCgenius   

Here are both calls side by side:

“Here we go … Here’s your ballgame, folks, as Flutie takes the snap. He drops straight back … has some time, now scrambles away from one hit … looks … uncorks a deep one to the end zone, Phelan is down there … (**OH, HE GOT IT!) DID HE GET IT? (**HE GOT IT!) TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN!! TOUCHDOWN BOSTON COLLEGE!! HE DID IT!! HE DID IT!! FLUTIE DID IT!! HE GOT PHELAN IN THE END ZONE!! TOUCHDOWN!! OH MY GOODNESS … WHAT A PLAY!! FLUTIE TO GERARD PHELAN!! 48 YARDS!! NO TIME ON THE CLOCK, IT’S ALL OVER!! – Dan Davis, Nov. 23, 1984

**(OH, HE GOT IT!) … (HE GOT IT!) was said by the statistician Dick Tarpey.

“Here’s Fortescue at the point … takes a shot, tipped in front save … rebound in front of the slot … SCORE! SCORE! JACK MALONE! JACK MALONE! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! OH, MY FREAKING GOD, BRENDAN! IT’S HAPPENING! IT’S HAPPENING? BC’S GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR! LET’S GOOO!” – Jacob Lassner, March 31, 2024

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