Monday, April 03, 2006

Blast From The Past: Greatest Upset

The upset of Minnesota by Holy Cross spawned discussion as to whether or not it was the Greatest Upset in D-1 hockey playoff history. Amongst all the games discussed was the UAA/Boston College playoff series in 1991. The discussion reminded me of the HOCKEY-L posts that I'd read which had good reports of the games. So here's a couple of long posts that are well worth the read.

Mike Machnik was the author ...
I just returned from BC where the Eagles dominated Alaska-Anchorage but still lost, 3-2. I see Clarkson, Cornell, and Providence have won, so I have gone o-fer tonight. Not a good start. Yet, it is the first time *ever* that all four road teams have won on the same night, either in the first round or in the quarterfinals. That goes back to the beginning of the eight-team format in 1981. No one could have predicted this would happen.

This was only the third time an independent ever won a game in the NCAA Division I tourney; Alaska-Anchorage is only the second team to do it. Merrimack won two games in 1988, one at Northeastern and one at Lake Superior. BC was 17-1-0 at home coming in, but now they are on a two-game losing streak.

We heard the BC radio guys on the way home, and there were two memorable quotes. Sorry I can't remember the guy's name. First: "Last year at this time there was the feeling of, "Who can beat us?' Now, it's 'Who CAN we beat?'" And second - and this one deserves its own line:

"Len Ceglarski can't coach his way out of a paper bag."

The BC folks are VERY down at this point. It could be over tomorrow night. Still, I look at the fact that Anchorage was so outplayed by BC, in my opinion (Krake was the only thing keeping the game close the first 50 minutes), and I will stick with BC to win the next two games and the series.

The referee was Shepherd from the WCHA; I was very impressed with the job he did in the WCHA Championship, and he called another good game tonight. Linesmen were Demers and Earle from the ECAC, and they also did a good job. The first period was one to fall asleep to. No scoring, very little up-and-down action, and only one penalty a side.

In the second, BC turned it up and outshot the Seawolves, 19-5, but they only got one goal. That came at 14:36, when Bill Guerin shot the puck off the faceoff and Krake made the save, but Guerin put in his rebound to break the scoreless tie. BC had four power plays in the period and got no goals despite several great chances.

The only other notable thing about the period came with four seconds left. Deep in the UAA end, Lorne Knauft hit BC's Steve Heinze, who was so angry that there was no call that he absolutely crushed Knauft (a big boy) into the boards. Knauft crumpled to the ice and did not move at all, lying on his stomach. The Seawolves' trainer came out and after about five minutes, Knauft slowly got up. I believe he was probably knocked out. Heinze was sent to the locker room and was given a major from hitting from behind, which now carries an automatic DQ - or so I thought. He returned in the third to serve his penalty and continued the rest of the game; I can't explain this because I thought I remembered seeing this in the rule book (which is at home). Knauft did not come out with his team to start the third, but he did come out for one shift and was on the ice for UAA's first goal; then he went right back to the locker room, but again he returned and played about the last six minutes. I can see how he would refuse to sit it out with his team on the verge of the biggest win in their history.

The third period was played in halves, which is getting to be a custom at BC. UAA had a 4:40 power play in the third after the final 16 seconds of a penalty to Kraft expired, but they couldn't do anything with it. Krake continued to stand on his net in the UAA net, stopping McInnis and Emma. Finally UAA tied it up at 9:12. Big gun Rob Conn had two shots blocked by BC players, then his third try found the mark with LaGrand on his knees. LaGrand had shut UAA out for 49:12, but it would only take 4:27 for them to get all they needed to win.

With five seconds left in the first half of the third period, Dave Pergola put BC ahead, 2-1. Jeff O'Neill threw the puck in along the right boards and Pergola beat UAA's Trent Pankewicz to it behind the net, then he wheeled in front and slammed it through Krake's pads at 9:55. It only took 17 seconds for Anchorage to tie it up. The net appeared to be off when the goal was scored, but it could have been LaGrand who knocked it off. Kraft got credit; there was a lot of action in front and it just looked like Kraft and Conn were whaling away at it.

Brad Stewart was called for interference at 10:35, but BC couldn't score. They got two good chances just as the power play came to an end from Marc Beran and O'Neill, but Krake again came up big. Then at 13:39, the game-winner was scored. Steve Bogoyevac came out of the right corner with the puck and blasted a shot over LaGrand's shoulder from the bottom of the circle to bring a hush over Conte Forum except for the Seawolves' celebration. Krake played out of his skull the rest of the game, stopping Emma, McInnis, and Crowley on another power play, and making the biggest saves of the game on Franzosa with 1:53 left. Franzosa's first shot was stopped, then Krake fell back in the net, lying on his back, but he reached up to stop Franzosa's followup. I can't imagine how he didn't get the puck up over Krake, but it still goes in the books as a huge save. BC pulled LaGrand with about 41 seconds left, but the Seawolves were not about to pull a BC and let this one get away. Despite being outplayed, they earned this one with their hard work and tough defense and their refusal to give up.

I believed that if BC was going to lose a game to UAA, it would be this one. It will take another miraculous performance from UAA and Krake to beat BC again. Sure, it can happen, and maybe BC is really down on themselves which would play a big part tomorrow night (I don't know). We will see.

Congrats to Clarkson, Cornell, Providence, and Anchorage fans! The rest of this weekend should be VERY interesting...

And Mike's take on the second game:
What an incredible weekend. The Seawolves of Alaska-Anchorage, who many people believed didn't belong in this tournament, closed out a sweep of Hockey East regular season champion Boston College with a 3-1 win tonight. UAA now goes to Northern Michigan next weekend. BC ended the season 27-12-0 and lost its last three games, all at home, after beginning the season with an unblemished 17-0-0 mark in the friendly confines of Conte Forum. UAA is 19-15-4 in NCAA games, 22-15-4 overall.

All four goals in the game came on the power play. While Shepherd called a fine game last night, there was really no flow at all to Game Two, a result of the 19 minors called in the first two periods. BC was 1 for 7 over that stretch, but Anchorage was 3 for 10. Yet, BC did themselves in, I'd say, by taking really idiotic penalties with their team already losing the series *and* behind in this game. Shepherd took a large amount of vicious abuse from the BC students, who didn't realize until the third period that he wasn't the reason their team was trailing. Emma, Cleary, Guerin, etc. spent a lot of time jawing at Shepherd, but if they had spent more energy worrying about Alaska-Anchorage, they might have had a better chance to win. But I doubt it.

Ceglarski made two big changes for BC tonight. He played Galuppo in net instead of LaGrand, but goaltending was not his problem. He also yanked Steve Heinze off the top line and replaced him with Guerin to reunite the GEM line. It made no difference whatsoever. Guerin had two goals in the series, but Emma, McInnis, and Heinze pulled no-shows again.

Anchorage did not change their style one bit from Game One, and if anything, they executed it better. The first period saw the teams exchange power play goals. At 16:09, Anchorage got on the board. Tim Kollman, a senior defenseman (one of only four seniors), took a pass from Rob Conn (1-1--2 last night) and blasted the puck from the top of the left circle. It went right along the ice and in past Sandy Galuppo, then it ricocheted out, but Shepherd was rightthere and signaled the goal. It was goal #11 for Kollman.

BC got that back with a PPG of their own at 17:17. Guerin deflected in Ted Crowley's shot from the right point for his 26th goal. Emma also assisted as he had fed Crowley. That was to be BC's last goal of the year. In fact, of the three goals BC got in the series, you can only fault Krake on one (Pergola's stuff in from behind the net). Krake ended up stopping 81 of 84 shots (1.50, .964), clearly the MVP of the series for the Seawolves.

BC was hit with two dumb penalties late in the period and it would do them in. Heinze went off for slashing at 19:19, then the Eagles got a bench minor at 19:46 to give Anchorage a 5-on-3 for 1:33. UAA capitalized 1:05 into the second when Jeff Batters shot the puck through a screen from the left circle past Galuppo for his 14th, the eventual game-winner. Kollman and Steve Bogoyevac (GWG Game One) also assisted.

After UAA went up 2-1, they got socked with three consecutive penaltiesat 1:22, 6:13, and 9:33, to give BC nearly six minutes on the power play, and the Eagles couldn't do anything. UAA's men covering the point were particularly effective all weekend in forcing bad passes and blocking shots. Emma and McInnis had great chances but Krake came up big.

Then, BC started getting hit with penalties. The one that resulted in the third UAA goal was the dumbest of the night. Guerin stole the puck, came up to the faceoff dot and shot the puck, but Krake gloved it and held on. Guerin kept coming, with no one near him, and took a whack at Krake. This came with Cleary already in the box and put the Eagles down 5-on-3 again. It was also what set off the students' abuse of Shepherd, although of course he didn't deserve it. BC killed off the 5-on-3 portion, but with five seconds left on Guerin's minor UAA scored their third PPG of the night. Conn was battling for the puck down low and slid the puck across the crease to Galuppo's left, where no one was covering Trent Pankewicz. He quickly potted his 18th goal, a huge one.

BTW, UAA had two more goals called back tonight. Late in the first period, Bogoyevac appeared to score and I thought Shepherd signaled the goal, but then he pointed for a faceoff instead. Then what would have been their fourth goal was disallowed in the second because a man was in the crease.

Conte Forum has two huge video screens that they use for replays, and with BC down 2 entering the third, the people who run the scoreboard put up the video of John Belushi's famous "It's not over until we say it's over! speech from "Animal House". This drove the crowd into a frenzy and they rocked the building when BC hit the ice for the third (again played in halves). Unfortunately for them, the Eagles didn't respond. They did outplay UAA and generated more scoring chances than they had in the first two periods, but the key players like Emma, Crowley, McInnis, Heinze were fanning on shots, shooting the puck wide, losing the puck at the point. Much of the period consisted of UAA dumping the puck in and letting BC try to breakout; they are obviously a very well-coached team defensively. They made BC look absolutely awful, worse than I have ever seen a BC team look.

BC's lethargic offense received a wake-up call about halfway through the period on the only power play (Shepherd called 19 minors in the first two, and one in the third), but it fell back asleep very quickly. Defeat was in the air, and there was nothing BC could do to avert it. As the final horn sounded, the celebration on the ice was very reminiscent of one I had to suffer through three years ago, when Merrimack upset Northeastern in the opening round. For only the second time since the independents had been given an automatic bid, an independent had won a series. And, Alaska-Anchorage had become the first independent ever to win a best-of-three *and* sweep a best-of-three in the DivI tourney.

Emma was visibly upset afterwards, and as is the BC custom at Conte, even in defeat, the Eagles gathered at center ice and together rapped their sticks on the ice and lifted them toward the balcony in salute to the students - but it was not with much enthusiasm. Emma, the captain, waited for the rest of his teammates to leave the ice, then, with the fans chanting "Hobey, Hobey", he saluted them just as his teammates had, then he left the ice for the final time as a college player. In defeat, this was a classy way to go out, I have to say. The anti-BC fans were really out in force tonight, smelling the kill. A large section of fans spent the whole game jeering David Emma ("Emma wears a bra", "Hobey Faker") and Bill Guerin. In the third period, after the ten minute mark, at every one-minute interval they counted down - "Seven minutes to elimination!" This is really what BC deserved, because they were so damn cocky they seemed to think Anchorage should have just mailed in the two losses. After all, they're BC. That attitude permeated right down to the people who run the scoreboard atBC. Both games, they kept showing a message that urged fans to get their Final Four tickets now, along with the address & phone. That didn't appear in the third period tonight.

Even more amazing, they kept a number "6" superimposed in the upper right corner of the scoreboard throughout the entire game last night; it wasn't until near the end of the second period last night that we learned what it stood for. At first I jokingly suggested it was supposed to be the spread. It turns out, it was the number of wins BC had left until the national championship! Needless to say, after five periods, that "6" was gone in the third tonight. But I can't believe Ceglarski would allow them to do that. You just do not go around doing things like that. If you do, you pay for it. And they did.

Congratulations to Anchorage fans, I was very impressed with the way the Seawolves stuck to their game plan, played smart hockey and stood nose to nose with a team many had figured to sweep the series. I don't think I have seen as fabulous a goaltending performance in a weekend as I saw from Paul Krake. If he stays hot, Northern Michigan will have their hands full. Alaska-Anchorage has definitely earned some respect this weekend.

There are lots of good reads on the HOCKEY-L archives. Take a look if your in a reminiscent mood.

1 comment:

Chris said...

That's a pretty awesome story.

Mike is a very good writer and knows more about college hockey than anyone else I know.

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