Advantage: Boston College. Bob Daniels has done a phenomenal job elevating Ferris State and rightly won the Spencer Prose Award for Division I coach of the year. But BC's Jerry York is the dean of current coaches and has taken his team to the national final in five of the past seven seasons. Fun fact: Daniels is attempting to become the first coach to lead his team to victory in its inaugural title-game appearance since 1984 and … wait for it … York with Bowling Green.
Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Conference: Hockey East Association
Coach: Jerry York, 17th season (445-222-60, 912-557-94 overall)
How they got here: Beat Air Force 2-0, Minnesota-Duluth 4-0 and Minnesota 6-1
Leading scorer: Chris Kreider (23 goals, 22 assists, 45 points)
Leading goaltender: Parker Milner (28-5-0, 1.68 goals-against average, .936 save percentage)
NHL players produced: 50, including 13 first-round picks
Notable alumni: Matt Ryan (Falcons quarterback), Lesley Visser (sportscaster), Doug Flutie (former NFL quarterback)
Frozen Four appearances: 23
National championships: 4
Location: Big Rapids, Mich.
Conference: Central Collegiate Hockey Association
Coach: Bob Daniels, 20th year (334-361-79)
How they got here: Beat Denver 2-1, Cornell 2-1 and Union 3-1
Leading scorer: Jordie Johnston (20 goals, 16 assists, 36 points)
Leading goaltender: Taylor Nelson (21-6-3, 2.06 goals-against average, .924 save percentage)
NHL players produced: 6
Notable alumni: Chris Kunitz (two-time Stanley Cup winner currently with the Penguins) George Ryan (former governor of Illinois), Karen McDougal (1998 Playboy playmate of the year)
Frozen Four appearances: 1
National championships: 0
Advantage: Boston College. The bad news for the Eagles' Parker Milner: He no longer is perfect in the NCAA tournament after surrendering a goal during Thursday's 6-1 win over Minnesota. The good news: He has emerged as one of the nation's best, allowing only 20 goals while starting every game of BC's 18-game win streak.
Advantage: Boston College. That's despite Ferris State's swarming defense being its trademark. BC goalie Parker Milner has been spectacular since January, and the defenders in front of him are good at forcing turnovers. The Bulldogs don't generate an abundance of offense, and BC has only been held scoreless in two of its 43 games this season.
Advantage: Boston College. Speed kills, and the first thing most coaches say about the Eagles is they are incredibly fast up front. Their goals tend to come quickly, too. BC twice has buried two pucks in an opponent's net within a one-minute span during the NCAA tournament. The Eagles have scored 3.9 goals a game during their 18-game win streak.
Advantage: Boston College. Though the Bulldogs did a nice job in allowing Union only one power play on Thursday, they entered the Frozen Four 10th in Division I at 15.5 penalty minutes per game. And BC is lethal with a man advantage as teams have a hard enough time keeping up with it at even strength.
Even the Bulldogs realize they are the underdog. "If we don't play our best style of game, we're going to have big problems," coach Bob Daniels said. And he only needs to look at the 6-1 thrashing BC gave a good Minnesota team on Thursday if he needs any evidence. Ferris State has had a great season — its best ever — beating Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State. But Boston College is in a class of its own with no apparent weakness.
Laura Keeley's pick | Boston College 4, Ferris State 0
|3.56||Goals scored per game||2.93|
|2.01||Goals allowed per game||2.11|
|12.7||Penalty minutes per game||15.2|
Tom Kurvers is the Lightning's senior adviser to the general manager, a point man in scouting college players, and he played in the 1984 final with Minnesota-Duluth. His analysis:
"Ferris State has all the enthusiasm of a first-time entry, and they've had a great year. Based on their goaltending, defensive strength and team style of play, they have a shot if they can get through the first period and build from there. BC, obviously, has talented frontline players and, if they can get rolling, a lot of firepower. They also have the advantage of playing in playoff-type hockey. I was at the Beanpot finals between BC and Boston University (on Feb. 13), and it felt like a championship game."
Denver coach George Gwozdecky led his team to a victory over Boston College on Oct. 14. It was eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Ferris State. His analysis:
"You have to be impressed with both teams in different ways. I don't think anyone anticipated that kind of score (6-1) against Minnesota. Boston College showed an incredible ability to finish around the net. If you watch them play, they're great defensively as well as offensively and have had solid goaltending down the stretch. It's a tough matchup for any team. But I look at Ferris State, and they've proved the doubters and experts wrong throughout the season. The experts will be looking, trying to decide how many goals Boston College will win by, and that could be the perfect situation for Ferris State. The longer this game stays close, the better chance Ferris has to win."