When early April rolls around, one of the local sports customs besides Opening Day for the Red Sox has become seeing the BC men’s hockey team in the Frozen Four. Indeed for the NCAA-leading 25th time (and 6th in the past decade) in program history, the Eagles (28-7-5) have reached college hockey’s version of the Final Four. Legendary head coach Jerry York (who set the NCAA’s all-time wins record earlier this campaign) is looking for his fifth national title and sixth overall at Chestnut Hill for one of the sport’s true blue bloods. It won’t be easy though as BC meets the tournament’s No. 1 seed Quinnipiac (31-3-7) on Thursday (5, ESPN2 and 850 AM) at Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena. North Dakota (32-6-4) faces Denver (25-9-6) in the nightcap (8:30, ESPN2).
“The Frozen Four is an objective for us,” noted York.“Every year that I have been at BC, I have always thought ‘let’s get to that Frozen Four.’ And the more you get there, the more opportunities you have to collect some hardware and it’s hard to go once and win it once. We have always had excellent teams and excellent players to bring with us to the regionals and to get us to the Frozen Four and this year is just the same.”
Believe it or not, this is the first time that Boston College has ever met Quinnipiac on the ice. The Bobcats have recently become a powerhouse in their own right, being ranked No. 1 nationally much of this season and they went to the 2013 NCAA national championship game (where they lost to their nearby rival Yale 4-0). This season’s Eagles might not have the superstars that they featured in recent times (many of whom are currently in the NHL) but BC gets it done as a team. Six players have at least 33 points for them this season, led by junior forward Ryan Fitzgerald (23 goals, 23 assists) a North Reading, MA native and fourth-round draft pick of the Bruins in 2013. Freshman forward Colin White (19 goals, 23 assists) is a Hanover, MA native and a first-round pick of the Senators in 2015.
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BC’s depth was on full display at the regional that took place at the DCU Center in Worcester two weekends ago: they beat their Beanpot nemesis Harvard (19-10-4) 4-1 and then held on to top Minnesota-Duluth (19-15-5) 3-2. Sophomore forward Alex Tuch (17 goals, 16 assists) and junior forward Austin Cangelosi (20 goals, 17 assists) each scored two goals against the Crimson and senior defenseman (converted from forward) Teddy Doherty (13 goals, 12 assists) lit the lamp twice vs. the Bulldogs. Junior goaltender Thatcher Demko (27-7-4, 1.85 goals against average, .936 save percentage) set a program-record with 10 shutouts this season so you’d have to say that he’s their best player. He is also one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker award (the hockey equivalent of the Heisman).
Follow Metro Boston hockey writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate