April 9, 2009
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Weighart: Higgins Playmaker On The Big Stage
Quotes | Audio: Parker | Players
WASHINGTON - Sophomore Colin Wilson broke a 4-4 tie at 14:19 of the third period with his second goal of the night to lift the Boston University men's ice hockey team into the national championship game with a 5-4 win over Vermont in the NCAA Frozen Four on Thursday night at the Verizon Center. The Terriers improve to 34-6-4 - matching the school record for wins in a season - with their sixth straight victory and will play Miami for the national title on Saturday (April 11) at 7 p.m.
After scoring the first two goals of the game, the Terriers were forced to come back from a pair of one-goal deficits, as Vermont responded with a three-goal run in the second before BU got a goal back in the late stages of the middle period to make it a 3-3 contest. The Catamounts regained the lead on their second power-play goal of the game at 9:40 of the third.
Senior Chris Higgins, who matched a career high with a game-best four points (1g, 3a), tied the game at 4 with 6:54 to play and then set up the game-winner less than a minute later.
Following a saved shot from the stick of Higgins, Wilson was above the left post to deposit the rebound under the crossbar before the Terrier defense held on in the closing minutes.
In a battle of freshman goaltenders, national rookie of the year Kieran Millan made 23 saves for the Terriers, while Rob Madore also recorded 23 stops in the Vermont net as the Catamounts finish their season with a 22-12-5 record.
Wilson registered two goals and an assist, while senior Jason Lawrence posted a goal and an assist, as the line of Higgins-Wilson-Lawrence was responsible for nine of the Terriers' 14 points on the night. Freshman Vinny Saponari scored arguably the game's biggest goal when he tied the contest late in the second.
The game got off to a sluggish start, but the Terriers hit their stride in the latter part of the first period, breaking through when sophomore Kevin Shattenkirk
sent the puck towards the slot and Wilson provided a nifty finish, redirecting the puck between his own legs to put BU on the board at 11:19.
Senior Jason Lawrence doubled the Terriers lead before the opening frame was through, passing to Higgins, who returned the puck for Lawrence to chip in on the high glove side.
The Catamounts struck back in the second, claiming the lead after three unanswered goals in the first part of the frame. Sophomore Wahsontiio Stacey struck with a wrister from the right circle to tally Vermont's first goal at the 3:50 mark.
Vermont changed the complexion of the game with a pair of goals 45 seconds apart. Sophomore Justin Milo tied the game on a power play at 9:04, banging in a rebound off Millan's pad. Sophomore Josh Burrows gave the Catamounts the lead at 9:49 pulling in a loose puck in the neutral zone and shooting glove side from the high slot.
After Burrows' goal, the Terriers generated the better opportunities for the remainder of the second and capitalized on a late power play, when Saponari tied the game. Sophomore Nick Bonino outmaneuvered a Vermont defenseman and dished to Saponari, who sent in a one-timer over Madore's shoulder to tie the score at 3-3 at 18:39.
BU continued its strong play in the third, but the Catamounts struck first in the final frame, scoring on the power play at 9:40 when freshman Drew MacKenzie scored his first collegiate goal with a shot from near the blue line that Millan got a piece of before it trickled into the net.
Higgins answered to tie the game once again for the Terriers at 13:06. Junior Brian Strait picked up the puck in the neutral zone and passed to Lawrence in the slot. Lawrence dished to Higgins on the right side, who sent in a wrister to tie the gaem and set up Wilson's heroics just over a minute later.
The Catamounts handed the Terriers their only back-to-back losses of the season in November and ended BU's season in the Hockey East semifinals last year. BU head coach Jack Parker earned his 29th career NCAA tournament win, tying BC head coach Jerry York for the most all time.
Miami, which defeated Bemidji State by a 4-1 margin in the first semifinal, will be playing in its first national title game, while the Terriers will be playing in their 10th. BU will be aiming for its fifth NCAA championship, having raised the trophy in 1971, 1972, 1978 and most recently in 1995.
The Terriers and the RedHawks will be playing for the first time since 2004 when they face off for the national championship on Saturday at 7 p.m. The title game will air on ESPN.