Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Looking Back: Miracle in Milwaukee

BU’s most recent Frozen Four appearance is now a decade in the past. One of the most memorable games in Terrier history—BU’s stunning 3-2 upset of defending champion Michigan in the 1997 semifinal—was played ten years ago today.

When Jack Parker’s “few good men” traveled to Milwaukee’s Bradley center for a rematch of the 1996 NCAA semifinal, easily won by Michigan, 4-0, few observers gave the Terriers much of a chance. The top-ranked Wolverines boasted a gaudy 35-3-4 record, 240 goals scored, seven 20-goal scorers and three first-team All-Americans, including goalie Marty Turco. After North Dakota won its semifinal earlier in the day, some of the media were asking Michigan Coach Red Berenson how his squad stacked up against the Sioux.

The Terriers had other ideas, beginning with a gameplan that called for playing fast and physical, and making the players in Maize and Blue regret each time they handled the puck. Crunching hits by Dan Lacouture on Michigan power forward Jason Botterill and Chris Drury on Brendan Morrison (who edged out Chris for the Hobey Baker that season) set the tone and the Terriers never let up. Even still, Michigan took a first period lead on a Warren Luhning goal that eluded Michel Larocque. Later in the period, BU survived a 5-minute major to Bill Pierce who received a game misconduct.

The second period belonged to the Terriers. Lacouture won a battle in the corner for a puck and centered to Greg Quebec (who later played for the short-lived Macon Whoopee) in the high slot who beat Turco. Six minutes later, Chris Heron (the hero of the Hockey East title game) converted from Shawn Bates and Tom Poti to put the Terriers on top. Then, on a BU powerplay, when three Wolverine defenders followed Drury behind the Michigan net, Tommi Degerman was all alone to convert a pretty goalmouth pass for a 3-1 lead. Drury nearly upped the margin to three when he ripped a shot off the post and Turco was forced to make a nifty glove save on Drury's wrister off the rebound.

The Terriers held the vaunted Michigan powerplay at bay (0 for 5) and Larocque stopped 9 of 10 shots in the final period, yielding only an extra-attacker goal to Morrison just after a glaring non-call when Drury was tripped trying to clear the puck.

The win gave BU an eight-game winning streak, with Larocque in the net for seven of them, registering 1.67 GAA and .931 save percentage in those games. The streak ended two days in the NCAA final, with BU losing 6-4 to North Dakota.

Last year when the NCAAs returned to Milwaukee, College Hockey News’ Adam Wodon took a look back at the BU-Michigan game as an example of college hockey at its finest. Wodon points out that 17 players from the game reached the NHL, including Poti and Bates, now Islander teammates.

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