April 11, 2009

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WASHINGTON (AP)--Boston University must feel as though it got to celebrate this NCAA hockey championship twice.

Trailing by two goals with a minute left in regulation, the top-seeded Terriers stormed back to force overtime, then beat Miami (Ohio) 4-3 on a shot that went in off a RedHawks player in the extra session Saturday night.

Colby Cohen was credited with the winning goal on a slap shot that ricocheted high off sliding Miami defenseman Kevin Roeder's leg 11:47 into OT and gave BU its fifth national hockey title--and first since 1995.

"Wow. What a hockey game," said BU coach Jack Parker, who set a record with his 30th tournament win. "What a finish."

Cohen was chosen as the tournament's most outstanding player, but he never would have been in position to score the last goal without the whirlwind finish to the third period. Miami led 3-1 before BU's Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist in the closing 60 seconds, including the tying score with 17.4 seconds left off a deft pass from Hobey Baker Award winner Matt Gilroy.

That set off a wild celebration on BU's bench--even though the final outcome was still very much in doubt, of course. But at least BU suddenly had a chance.

Parker, who won his third national title, needed to calm down his players during the intermission before OT.

"I told them to relax. They were all excited like they'd just won," Parker said. "I told them they had to relax and get ready to win the game. They hadn't won it yet."

But Boston, which features 13 players drafted by NHL teams, was in charge in overtime. After the winning goal went in, the Terriers piled atop each other on the ice, as Roeder sat alone at the other end. Parker walked over to join his players and was greeted first with a big bear hug from Gilroy.

"We showed the talent on this team and the will to win," said forward Colin Wilson, a Hobey Baker runner-up to Gilroy.

Both goalies--Boston's Kieran Millan and Miami's Cody Reichard--are freshmen, and both were superb. Millan made 29 saves. Reichard made 28, but it was that last shot--he never saw the puck as fluttered high in the net--that he'll remember the most.

"It's just a real tough way to go down," Reichard said.

Boston (35-6-4), which set a school record for victories in a season, was playing in its 10th NCAA final. Miami (23-13-4) had never been beyond the round of eight in the hockey tournament--and, indeed, still never has won any NCAA team championship.

No. 1 sure seemed close Saturday, when the outcome appeared settled after Tommy Wingels and Trent Vogelhuber scored less than 3 1/2 minutes apart in the third period to break open what had been a tie game and put Miami ahead 3-1.

Wingels knocked in a rebound with 7 1/2 minutes left in regulation, and Vogelhuber added to the advantage with 4:08 to go after BU turned the puck over at the blue line.

The RedHawks' supporters in the crowd of 18,512 certainly thought the championship was won at that point: Shortly after Vogelhuber's goal, they unleashed loud chants of "Yes, we can! Yes, we can!"

With only a handful of minutes left, the RedHawks might have been forgiven for thinking those fans were right. After all, up until then, Miami had allowed all of five goals in the entire tournament.

But with Millan on the bench in favor of an extra skater, Zack Cohen corralled Bonino's rebound and lifted a backhander over Reichard with 59.5 seconds left in the third period. That pulled the Terriers within a goal.

Boston went unbeaten this season when Bonino records at least a point, and the sophomore forward netted the tying goal with a one-timer, setting off a joyous scene. BU's players jumped all over each other on the bench, and Gilroy skated over to join the festivities.

Moments later, as Miami's players headed toward their locker room for the intermission, several patted Reichard on the helmet, as if to say, "Don't worry about it, Kid."

This was the first NCAA hockey championship game to go to an extra period since 2002, when Minnesota beat Maine.

Parker said he thought back to the 1991 final, which his BU team lost in three OTs to Northern Michigan. But this one didn't go nearly as long.

"We feel like we have some unfinished business," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said.

What some might have figured would be a mismatch wound up close as could be. An indication of the disparity in the finalists' hockey traditions: While BU grad and 1980 U.S. Olympic "Miracle on Ice" captain Mike Eruzione was shown on the above-ice video board rooting for his Terriers, the buzz among RedHawks fans was whether or not two-time Super Bowl champion and former Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in attendance.

Miami was the bottom seed in the West Regional of the 16-team tournament. Boston, meanwhile, was ranked No. 1 during the regular season and entered the tournament as the top overall seed. The Terriers won the vaunted Hockey East's regular-season and playoff titles and entered Saturday on a six-game winning streak.

"We feel like we have some unfinished business," Wingels said.

Gilroy said this week that he and his teammates noticed the banner hanging from the rafters during the Frozen Four that showed BU's title-winning years of 1971, 1972, 1978 and 1995. At next year's Frozen Four, they'll have to add 2009.