tom jones' two cents
The Frozen Four wraps up tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum with what seems to be a mismatch: little Ferris State against mighty Boston College. Can Ferris State win? Just how good is Boston College? Let's answer those questions and more with something we will call "Frozen Four fact or fiction.''
Boston College is the NCAA's premier hockey program
Fact. Since 1997-98, the Eagles have been to 10 Frozen Fours, including five of the past seven. They have won three national titles since 2001.
A victory tonight, and BC captures its third national championship in the past five years — something that hasn't happened since Denver won in 1958, 1960 and 1961.
Yeah, that pretty much makes you the baddest cat in the alley.
"It's an honor to be a part of the program,'' captain and senior defenseman Tommy Cross said. "It's a privilege to be at Boston College.''
Ferris State will upset Boston College
Fiction. Is it possible? Lyle Lovett somehow convinced Julia Roberts to marry him. So sure, anything is possible. But realistically, it would go down as a pretty seismic upset.
Not quite "Miracle on Ice," but we're talking Villanova over Georgetown, Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson, Rocky over Apollo. It's not that Ferris State is that bad, but BC is that good.
Since losing to Maine on Jan. 21, BC has racked up 18 consecutive victories, outscoring its opponents 73-20. Minnesota, a splendid team with a storied history, looked like it could have played BC a hundred times and never come close during its 6-1 loss Thursday. If BC did that to Minnesota, what might it do to a Ferris State team playing in its first national championship game?
Perhaps Ferris State's best hope is the Eagles are already measuring their fingers for rings.
"Sometimes, when you are that top team coming in, you are a little worried about that team like us who has been an underdog all season long,'' Ferris State senior goalie Taylor Nelson said. "We just come out and play. You might be squeezing your stick a little too tight if you are considered a favorite because you should win the game.''
Nice try, Taylor, but it doesn't sound as if BC will play along.
"They're obviously a good team because they've made it this far,'' BC sophomore forward Bill Arnold said. "It is one game, and anything can happen. We just need to go about our business like we have all year and prepare like we're playing Goliath."
BC's Parker Milner is the best goaltender in the country
Fact. Here's how good Milner has been: When he allowed a goal against Minnesota in the third period Thursday night, it was his first in more than 193 minutes. That's more than nine periods.
Even that goal had to be reviewed because it looked like it might have been kicked in. Or maybe officials just couldn't believe Milner actually allowed a goal. The last time he gave up more than two goals in a game was Jan. 27 — 18 games ago.
"Parker's been playing unbelievable, and everyone in the room knows that,'' Cross said. "It definitely gives you confidence to have a goaltender that's rock solid back there, who's on top of his game and has his confidence going.
"If his confidence is going, that spreads to the rest of the team. As a defense, if we do have breakdowns, it's been great to have Parker there to bail us out at times."
Putting the Frozen Four in Tampa was a mistake
Fiction. The only ones complaining about college hockey's championship coming to Tampa are the old curmudgeons who still believe hockey was best when goalies didn't wear masks.
By all accounts, this Frozen Four has been a smashing success.
The weather has been chamber-of-commerce great, which means thumbs-up reviews from the tourists. More than 18,000 showed up for Thursday's semifinals, and just as many should be there tonight. Handing out the Hobey Baker Award at MacDill Air Force Base was a really cool idea.
Will the Frozen Four ever come back to Tampa? That hasn't been decided. Should it? Yes.
That's a fact.