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Evan Marinofsky | | March 30, 2022

NCAA Video Vault: Down 2 goals, BU men's hockey's epic comeback against Miami in 2009 Frozen Four

2009 Frozen Four classic: Boston U. scores twice after pulling goalie

Miami University was less than two minutes away from its first national championship in program history. Heck, this would be the first national championship in school history for any sport.

And this one was improbable. The RedHawks were 2009's Cinderella team in DI men's college hockey. Coming into the tournament as a No. 4 seed, they upset Denver and Minnesota Duluth in regionals and then edged out Bemidji State, a fellow No. 4 seed, in the Frozen Four. Capping it all off by toppling the No. 1 team in the nation to win the big dance seemed like the perfect ending. 

But Boston University was about to show why it was the best team in the country in those memorable final two minutes of the 2009 Frozen Four title game. 

2009 Frozen Four classic: Boston U. scores twice after pulling goalie

Let's go minute-by-minute to show exactly how the Terriers completed one of the greatest comebacks in Frozen Four history. The times we're going to use are from the timestamps in the video, which counts up from 0:00. 

How it happened 

0:01 elapsed in the video - Down 3-1, the Terriers had a face-off in the Miami end with 3:32 to play. BU coaching legend Jack Parker called freshman goalie Kieran Millan to the bench for the extra attacker. It was a bold move, but a necessary one down two goals with a few minutes remaining.

The Terriers were no stranger to comebacks. In the third period of the Hockey East semifinals against Boston College, the Terriers scored three goals in 44 seconds to overcome being down 1-0. They went on to win, 3-2. In the NCAA tournament, BU scored the game-winner with 14.4 seconds left against New Hampshire to go to the Frozen Four. Then at the Frozen Four, BU came back from two one-goal deficits to defeat Vermont, 5-4.

But coming back from down two goals in the dying minutes of the national championship game? That was in a whole different universe. 

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1:35 - With 2:06 left in the game, Miami finally cleared the puck from its own zone. RedHawks forward Tommy Wingels brought the puck into the BU zone with the net empty, but a teammate went offside, forcing a draw right outside of the BU end. Millan went back into the Terriers' net. 

Would Wingels have scored? Probably not since he was in the middle of dumping the puck in when the whistle blew. But that would've forced another BU breakout and killed some time. 

2:33 - After some back and forth play, the Terriers finally entered the Miami zone, leading to Millan heading back to the bench. 

2:40 - From this point forward, things began to spiral out of control for Miami. Hemmed in their own zone, the RedHawks' defensive pairing of freshmen Will Weber and Matt Tomassoni failed to clear the puck twice. First, Weber hit Tomassoni with a breakout pass that he failed to get up the boards. Instead, the puck hopped in front of the Miami net. A few seconds later, Tomassoni went to throw the puck around the glass and it went over the glass, causing there to be an offensive zone draw for BU with 1:19 to play. Neither coach used their timeout. 

3:42 - At the 1:02 mark in the contest with the Terriers scrambling for chances around the Miami net, Miami freshman defender Cameron Schilling had the puck for about two seconds. He tried to move it to the corner, but Terriers forward Nick Bonino intercepted it and pushed it middle. Teammate Zach Cohen scooped it up and backhanded one through Miami goalie Cody Reichard to cut the lead to 3-2 with 59.5 seconds left. 

Reichard was about to endure some serious heartbreak, but that doesn't take away from how good he was in his first year with Miami. He posted a 2.11 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage and led an underdog RedHawks team to the national championship game as a freshman. 

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4:31 - One of the most underrated "What if?" moments came right after Cohen's goal. Off the face-off right after the lamplighter, Miami gained possession and Weber gained the red line. He went to dump it deep into the BU zone, but came up short and flipped the puck to BU defenseman Matt Gilroy – that year's Hobey Baker winner

If Weber got more zip on the puck and got it behind the BU net, it would've gotten more time off the clock and forced BU to do a full breakout. Maybe Miami forechecks hard and kills even more time. Instead, Gilroy got the benefit of only having to execute a quick-up and in no time, the Terriers were back in the RedHawks' end. 

5:05 - With under 30 seconds to play, BU was throwing everything it had at the Miami net. As the puck danced around the zone, Terriers senior Chris Higgins grabbed a loose puck and dished it to Gilroy in the high slot. 

Here's where the magic happened. 

Gilroy faked out the Miami defender in front of him and dished it to his right to Bonino, who one-timed it past Reichard to tie the game, 3-3, with 17.4 seconds on the clock. 

"Most players would've just blasted it," ESPN color analyst Barry Melrose said on the broadcast while reacting to the goal. "But Matt Gilroy makes a beautiful pass over to Bonino. That's what talent gives you." 

What also made the goal so incredible was how frantic a moment that was. For roughly 30 seconds prior, the Terriers did everything they could to fire every chance they had at the net, with sticks flying and Miami defenders just trying to clear the puck. This was one of the first actual plays that was set up and it was executed perfectly. 

Gilroy's fake also got Reichard out far enough to ensure a Bonino goal. 

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw Nick sitting wide open," Gilroy told reporters after the game. "Once we got that, I think the whole bench knew it was ours." 

Well, it was theirs. But it almost wasn't. 

6:04 - With seven seconds left in regulation Miami turned the puck up ice and freshman Trent Vogelhuber fired one on Millan who bobbled it and had a tough time covering the puck. He eventually did, as RedHawks forwards swung at it, with 1.7 seconds left. However, the puck sat next to Millan with him not behind it for a long enough time that if a Miami forward had gotten a good shot at it, it would've went in. 

Once both teams went to their dressing rooms to gear up for the overtime of their lives, Parker had a clear message for his Terriers. 

"I went in and told them, 'This is an opportunity that you probably didn't think you had with six minutes to go in the game or four minutes in the game and now you've got it,'" he recalled to reporters after the game. "'Make sure you take the best opportunity here that you've got and do something with it.'"

The players carried out their leader's message with a game-winner that was even wilder than the comeback that got them there. 

Terriers sophomore defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk walked the Miami blue line with 8:20 left in overtime. He dropped the puck back to partner Colby Cohen, who skated in and took a massive slap shot. As this was happening, Miami's Kevin Roeder laid out and blocked it. There was only one problem for the RedHawks. 

The puck magically ricocheted off Roeder, into mid-air, over Reichard and into the back of the net. Reichard never even saw it. 

Game over. Comeback complete. History made. 

"Wow, what a hockey game, what a finish," Parker said to reporters after the game. "The finish made it an unbelievable game. It's the greatest comeback I've ever been involved in. We snatched victory in this one...All I can say is that we'll sit back and watch this game and realize how fortunate we were to win this one." 

What it meant 

With the win, BU got its fifth national title ever. The first four came in 1971, 1972, 1978 and 1995. Parker was the head coach for the 1978 win over Boston College and 1995 win over Maine. 

The Terriers entered this game as the more historic program. While they had three championship wins, they also had five other appearances in 1950, 1967, 1991, 1994 and 1997. 

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In the seasons after the win, BU hovered around the top of Hockey East. The Terriers got back to that national-championship level in the 2014-15 season when highly-touted prospect and Chelmsford, Mass., native Jack Eichel joined the Terriers. Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award in 2015 and led BU back to the Frozen Four national title game. This time, however, it was BU on the other side of a heart-breaker, as it lost to Providence, 4-3. 

Parker retired after his 40th and final season in 2012-13. He's currently the second-winningest head coach in college hockey history with 897 wins. 

Miami followed up the 2009 loss with a strong 2009-10 campaign. The RedHawks blazed through their season and entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. After winning their regional, they fell to Boston College in the Frozen Four, 7-1. 

Since 2010-11, the RedHawks have only made the regional final once and that was a 4-1 loss to St. Cloud State in 2012-13. They haven't made the tournament since 2014-15. 

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