Eaves sends BC home for Frozen Four

Updated: March 29, 2004, 12:03 AM ET
Associated Press

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Ben Eaves was stretched out in excruciating pain in back of the Boston College bench while the trainer worked on a spasm in his right leg. Seconds later, he put an even bigger hurt on Michigan.

Eleven seconds after he climbed back onto the ice, he whacked his own rebound out of the air and into the net in overtime to give Boston College a 3-2 victory over Michigan in the Northeast Regional on Sunday and send the Eagles into the NCAA Frozen Four.

"It's overtime; this is the NCAAs," Eaves said when asked how difficult it was to return to the ice after the pain kept him off three shifts.

His brother, Patrick, who put the puck on net with a shot, wasn't surprised to see his older brother back on the ice.

"If he had one leg or two, his heart is too big to miss it," he said. "Right when he came back out, he just loooked at me and I knew he was there. It was the bravest thing I've ever seen in hockey. He couldn't even bend his leg."

His perserverence wasn't lost on his other teammates, either.

"I can't tell you how much I love Ben Eaves right now," defenseman J.D. Forrest said.

BC will play Maine in one semifinal April 8 in Boston. Minnesota Duluth and Denver play the other semifinal.

Eaves was just outside the right side of the crease when he rebounded a shot by his brother. Goalie Al Montoya, who made 42 saves, made the stop, but the puck bounced into the air and Eaves batted it home at 10:08 of the extra period.

"It happened really fast," Ben Eaves said. "I got a backhander on net and I thought that was in. I was ready to celebrate. Then I saw it up in the air and took another whack at it."

The goal came after Patrick had tied the game with 4:44 left in regulation.

Their goals sent BC, 29-8-4, into the Frozen Four for the fifth time in seven years. The Eagles won the title in 2001.

Michigan, 27-14-2, meanwhile, had its string of three straight trips to the Frozen Four snapped. The Wolverines won the title in 1996 and 1998.

Boston College dominated much of the game, putting 45 shots on goal to only 17 for Michigan, but twice had to come from behind to get to the extra period.

Mike Brown gave Michigan a 1-0 lead in the first period and Andy Burnes gave the Wolverines a 2-1 lead in the second period. Tony Voce tied the score at 1 for BC in the second period and Patrick Eaves sent it into overtime.

Trailing 2-1, the Eagles forced a face off in the left circle in the Michigan zone and Voce won the drop. Montoya stopped Pete Harrold's slap shot, but was out of position for the rebound and Eaves backhanded it into the open net.

Both teams had excellent chances in the overtime, but Montoya and Matti Kaltiainen, who made 15 saves for BC, kept the game going.

Burnes, the only senior on the ice for Michigan, gave the Wolverines a 2-1 lead with 2:59 left in the second period with his first goal of the season and only the fourth of his career.

Kaltiainen came for out of the net in a race with Burnes for a loose puck and both arrived at the left circle at the same time. The puck flopped down and with Kaltiainen trying to regain his feet and a defenseman guarding the net, Burnes slapped home a 35-footer.

Voce's goal from close in came with five seconds left on a power play.

Burnes sent Brown into the BC zone with a pass and Brown's shot from the left circle trickled behind Kaltiainen after he got his glove on it.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press