Bulldogs and Eagles Skate for National Championship

It’s only fitting that the two teams that have hit their stride in the 2012 calendar year would be playing for the national championship. The Ferris State Bulldogs and Boston College Eagles will take the ice at 7:00 p.m. at Tampa Bay Times Forum with everything on the line. Both teams have been ranked No. 1 in the nation this season, with the Bulldogs holding the top spot near the end of the regular season in February and the Eagles taking charge ever since. I’ve had the opportunity to see both teams play in person this season, with Ferris State losing to Michigan in October and Boston College competing in the Great Lakes Invitational as they lost to Michigan and defeated Michigan Tech.

This is your true David vs. Goliath match up as Boston College has won more championships in the last 10 years (three) than NCAA tournament games Ferris State played in school history (two). But if there is anyone who would take down Boston College and stop their 18-game winning streak one game shot of a title, it’s the team from a small school tucked in west central Michigan.

The semifinals were both exciting and shocking- as Ferris State took advantage of arguably the only mistake Union goalie Troy Grosenick made when Kyle Bonis backhanded a juicy rebound with under four minutes left to win the game for the Bulldogs 3-1. For the third-straight NCAA tournament game, All-American Taylor Nelson allowed one goal and kept his team in the game with 27 clutch saves. Grosenick faced a flurry of shots by the Bulldogs as he made stopped 34 shots.

The second semifinal was the one expected to be the more exciting one with Minnesota taking on Boston College. The Gophers were in the game until late in the second period when the Eagles doubled their 2-0 lead with two goals in the final 2:15 of the second period. Both teams has four power plays, but it was Boston College with two power play goals. The Gophers did do something no other team had done in the NCAA tournament- score on Eagles goalie Parker Milner. Jake Hansen made it 4-1 early in the third period, but that was the only celebrating they would do as the Eagles scored two quick goals 22 seconds and 4:25 after the lone Gophers goal in route to the 6-1 thumping.

As for the championship, the underdog Bulldogs have a fighting chance to win, but they have to stay out of the penalty box. They managed to accomplish that against Union with only one penalty taken, but they have to continue to play disciplined hockey because the Eagles have the nations fifth-best power play percentage as well as Barry Almeida and his 11 power play goals. That’s good to tie for best in the country. Nelson has to keep playing the way he has. He’s made a lot of clutch saves as well as having a little help from the red pipe behind him. The team also cannot afford the slow, nervous start they had against Union because Boston College will be coming out firing on all cylinders.

For Boston College to win, they have to capitalize on Ferris State mistakes and turnovers. Union couldn’t take advantage of those mistakes, and there’s no doubt Boston College is smart and quick enough to pounce on those errors and turn them into goals. In addition, the Eagles have to  turn the game into a high-scoring shootout. Should the Bulldogs keep it to a one-goal game (leading or trailing) late, the advantage will go towards the Bulldogs as they are the one’s “not supposed to be here’. Ferris State is a scrappy team and will try to do anything to block shots and frustrate the Boston College offense.

No matter who wins, we are in store for an exciting NCAA championship match.

Prediction: Ferris State 3, Boston College 2

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