Commentary

BC survives Yale to advance

Updated: March 29, 2010, 1:18 AM ET
By David Albright | ESPN.com

WORCESTER, Mass. -- When the lights get brighter and the stage gets bigger, it doesn't matter how you get it done, it really only matters if you get it done.

Such was the case on Sunday afternoon as Boston College won -- survived might be more appropriate -- a shootout gallery game against Yale by a final of 9-7 in the Northeast Regional final in front of 6,054 at the DCU Center.

[+] EnlargeCam Atkinson
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonBoston College coach Jerry York and regional Most Outstanding Player Cam Atkinson can rest easy after surviving Yale.

It wasn't pretty, at least not from a defensive and goaltending perspective, but it counted just the same. Actually, it counted more because of the stakes.

With the victory, the Eagles (27-10-3) advance to their 22nd Frozen Four in school history, ninth in coach Jerry York's tenure and third in the past four seasons.

But that doesn't mean it was easy or routine, even given the program's perpetual success.

"National games come in all sizes," York said. "Your objective is to win and advance and we were able to do that tonight. The game was never over because of their skill set. They led the nation in scoring so you know they have offensive weapons. They don't ask if it's a pretty game but we were fortunate to score nine goals."

It looked like it was going to be a long day for Yale from the outset, if the first two of the Bulldogs' season-high nine goals allowed were any indication.

BC opened the scoring at 5:21 of the first when Yale defenseman Ryan Donald snapped his stick on a slap shot attempt from the blue line during a 4-on-4 situation. The puck dribbled weakly toward the BC net, where it was picked off by winger Cam Atkinson, who pushed a lead pass to linemate Brian Gibbons at center ice. From there, Gibbons carried the puck and beat Yale goaltender Ryan Rondeau low to the blocker side.

After Yale tied it 1-1, the Eagles retook the lead with a fluky short-handed goal from defenseman Carl Sneep at 16:34. The senior secured the puck at his own blue line and fired a clear toward the opposite end of the ice. The puck bounced and hopped over Rondeau's blocker to make it 2-1 BC.

"There's nothing you can do," said Yale coach and former goaltender Keith Allain of the 120-foot score against his club. "You want to get as close to that bounce as you can so it doesn't have room to play on you. You don't expect it to bounce like that.

"It took a perfect bounce for them and a terrible bounce for us."

From there the rest of the afternoon became an all-out assault on the record books.

The game was never tied again and BC jumped out to four- and five-goal leads in the second and third periods respectively, only to give those cushions away each time.

The 16 goals are an NCAA tournament record for a regional game. The previous mark was 13, which had been accomplished twice.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Hayes
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonJimmy Hayes scored two goals in Boston College's 9-7 win over Yale in the Northeast Regional final.

"I don't think we were very good defensively as a team and the goaltenders are a part of that but they certainly aren't the only part," Allain said.

Yale (21-10-3) ended up using three goaltenders -- possibly four if you count the 2:27 of empty-net time late in the third period. No matter what the Bulldogs tried on the defensive end, it didn't work.

In the end, they faced 39 shots, but a .769 save percentage isn't going to win many, if any, games.

Lost in the Yale loss was the play of senior center Mark Arcobello. In the final game of his college career he scored three goals and added three assists. The six-point night tied for second all time in an NCAA tournament game.

"If only I had played as good on defense as I did on offense maybe I could have prevented a couple of goals," Arcobello said.

Over on the other bench, Atkinson recorded a hat trick too, his third in the last 10 games. And his line accounted for six goals and four assists.

For his efforts, Atkinson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Northeast Regional. Joining him on the All-Regional team were linemate Joe Whitney and Arcobello, defensemen Sneep and Yale's Tom Dignard, and BC goalie John Muse.

"We had a lot of good and lot of bad tonight," BC center Ben Smith said. "The good thing is we came out on the right side of it. But it was just one of those nights where who can score the most goals wins and we did it."

BC has now registered five straight wins and it improved to 8-1 overall in NCAA tournament games played in this building.

And it should be noted that each of the Eagles' last two national championship runs (2001 and 2008) also began in central Massachusetts.

Up next is a national semifinal game against Miami on April 8 at Detroit's Ford Field (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2 HD).

The other bit of good news for BC is that it has time to rest and work on its own-zone play before the Frozen Four. That's a good thing considering the Eagles have played six postseason games this month and have allowed at least five goals in three of them. And in all three of those games, BC had trouble holding third-period leads.

"I think putting a team away means winning hockey games," York said when asked about his team's late-game issues.

And winning hockey games this time of year -- by any means possible -- equals advancing to play another day. And that's all that really matters.

David Albright covers college sports for ESPN.com and can be reached at espncaa@gmail.com.

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