- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

In this upside-down march through the NCAA men's hockey tournament, when having a higher seed meant more self-doubt after a premature exit, it should have figured the team left standing would be the underdog without the pedigree. It seemed like it would be the team that drew on just enough guile to make up for its imperfections and send the biggest favorite of the 2009 Frozen Four toppling to the ice.

Until there was about a minute left in Saturday night's national championship game, that appeared to be the case. But Boston University, in the end, was too tough to be stopped.

The top-ranked Terriers completed a fierce comeback in the final minute of regulation, scoring twice with goaltender Kieran Millan out of the game to force overtime. Then they controlled a frantic 12 minutes of overtime. With 8:13 left, sophomore Colby Cohen ripped a slap shot from the left point, got it to bounce off diving Miami (Ohio) defenseman Kevin Roeder and hop past goaltender Cody Reichard.

Just like that, 13 minutes after they were down 3-1, the Terriers were national champions with a 4-3 victory.

“I saw it go in, and I don't remember anything after that,” Cohen said. “It's just an unbelievable feeling.”

It took a remarkable comeback in the game's final minute to even give the Terriers hope. First, BU pulled within one with 59.5 seconds left, after an extended period of pressure culminated in Zach Cohen's backhand goal. But they weren't done.

With 17 seconds to play, Chris Higgins slipped a pass around two defenders to Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Matt Gilroy at the top of the slot. Gilroy deked around one defender and slid a backhanded pass over to Nick Bonino, who slammed home a wrist shot before Reichard could rotate to his left in time to stop it.

It was Boston University's first championship since 1995 and the fifth in school history. Cohen's overtime goal capped a comeback at least partially facilitated by an evening of missed Miami opportunities.

The RedHawks were 0-for-7 on power plays, generating just eight shots on their man advantages. Despite holding the Terriers to 19 shots in the game's first 59 minutes, the RedHawks' two-goal lead wasn't enough, especially when it could have been more.

“We didn't have to change much [on the penalty kill]. They were executing,” Terriers coach Jack Parker said. “We took some stupid penalties tonight. I had guys slashing guys' sticks out of their hand, breaking them hard and looking at the refs like, 'Why did you call that?' If they didn't call that, they'd be hung.”

BU scored first when Chris Connolly grabbed a loose puck off Miami forward Alden Hirschfield's skate and batted it home with 7:59 left in the first period.

It appeared from there the Terriers would have a chance to pop the game open.

They entered the second period with 1:48 left on their first power play. More than that, their top line was finding more room to work after withstanding the RedHawks' initial rush.

But BU couldn't score with the man advantage, and Miami tied the score just after the power play ended when Gary Steffes followed his slap shot to the net and put home the second rebound two minutes into the second period.

The nature of the goal, however, was an isolated instance. Unable to get any rebounds or consistent traffic in front of the net, the RedHawks were reduced to trying to capitalize on a decent look once every few shifts. A game that could have been firmly in Miami's grasp was tied at the end of the second period.

Still, the RedHawks were able to keep the neutral zone sealed with a group of defensemen that stayed perched at the blue line and repeatedly chipped pucks away from Terriers forwards.

“They did a good job of being physical without taking penalties,” Parker said. “I thought, in the second period especially, they were much more disciplined positionally than we were.”

When BU's defensemen started to creep up in support, the RedHawks finally found their opportunity. After turning away the Terriers in the neutral zone, the RedHawks pushed into BU's zone with just over 7:30 left in the third period. Carter Camper unloaded a wrist shot from the slot, and the rebound fell right at the feet of Tommy Wingels, who banged it home before Millan had a chance to locate the puck.

All of a sudden, their power-play unit, which got another chance when Jason Lawrence was whistled for slashing with just over six minutes left, had two objectives: Get an insurance goal and kill time.

The group failed at the first but accomplished the second. And shortly after the power play expired, freshman Trent Vogelhuber sent a wrist shot sizzling by Millan from the slot with 4:08 to play.

The Terriers pulled their goaltender with 3:32 left, and the RedHawks seemed to be gliding toward a championship until there was a minute left.

That was when the best team in college hockey brought an air of predictability back to the tournament in the most unpredictable way.

“They executed at the end, and I thought it was a great college hockey game,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “Probably the way it should be.”

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