Tonight’s win gave Wisconsin its sixth NCAA title, the fourth-most of any program. Only Michigan’s nine, and North Dakota and Denver with seven, top the Badgers.
Wisconsin finishes with its seventh 30-win season and the first since 1999-2000.
Title IX: Two Titles
Wisconsin is the first team to have men’s and women’s national championships in Division I hockey in the same season. Adam Burish and sister Nikki, whose team won the trophy on March 26 with a 3-0 win over Minnesota, both took home titles for the Badgers.
“The hardest part was watching the girls win a national championship,” said senior defenseman Tom Gilbert, “and then waiting two more weeks for us to have a chance to do that.”
It’s actually the third NCAA title this season for Wisconsin, as the Badgers were also men’s cross-country national champs.
Madison’s Lord Of The Rings
Mike Eaves has become the 30th head coach to lead his team to a national championship since the first NCAA tournament in 1948. Eaves won the title as a player under legendary coach Bob Johnson in 1977.
“I enjoyed this one because I can remember it,” Eaves said. As a player, the emotion of the 6-5 OT win over Michigan was a blur. “From the time we won the game in overtime until I got in the locker room, I don’t remember a dang thing,” he explained.
Perfect Postseason PK
Wisconsin has been perfect on the penalty kill in the postseason, keeping opponents scoreless in 36 chances in the WCHA and NCAA playoffs. The last power-play goal allowed by the Badgers was in the third period of the final game of the regular season against St. Cloud State.
The crowd’s excitement over the success of the penalty kill was infectious to the Badgers. “The fans just fed off it and fed off it and brought so much more energy to this team,” said Wisconsin forward Joe Pavelski.
Fannies In The Seats …
The championship game attendance of 17,758 was the fifth-highest in NCAA championship game history and the most ever for a Bradley Center Frozen Four. It was the lack of any additional seats — not the lack of interest — that kept the attendance from growing any higher in the sold-out Bradley Center. Seven title games in a row, and 10 of the last 12, have been sell-outs.
The overwhelming majority of those in attendance appeared to be red-and-white clad Badger backers. Despite earlier doubts as to whether there would be a home-ice advantage, Eaves admitted he was happy to be proven wrong. “Somehow, those wacky Wisconsin fans found a way to get tickets,” he said.
… And On Couches, Too
The television audience was also strong. While ratings aren’t in for the championship, the semifinals had great numbers. An estimated 1,025,000 households were tuned into the Maine-Wisconsin semi on Thursday night, up 11 percent from last year and the highest ever for a semifinal round.
Making Their Mark
Pavelski’s two assists gave the sophomore 101 career points, making him the ninth Badger to top the century mark in his first two seasons.
The first goal scored in the Mike Eaves era was Tom Gilbert’s first career goal in 2002, in a 5-1 loss to Rensselaer in the opening round of the Ice Breaker Invitational; he scored the final goal of the season, and his Badger career tonight. His game-winner was his third such goal of the season and seventh in his four years in Madison.
Cory Schneider’s 37 saves increased his 2005-06 total to 1,098, the most in a season of any goalie in BC history. The sophomore netminder eclipsed the mark formerly held by Providence Bruins coach Scott Gordon, who made 1,048 stops in the 1984-85 season.
“[Schneider] darn near stole the hockey game,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “He was that in charge of the game.”
Eaves vs. Eaves
Boston College alumnus and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Ben Eaves has been serving as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater since injuring his knee. Both Ben and brother Patrick played for the Eagles. Mike faced Patrick in a BC-Wisconsin tilt in his first season behind the Badger bench; the Eagles prevailed, 4-2, on Oct. 25, 2002. Ben had to miss that game with a nagging rib injury.
By The Numbers
Wisconsin’s 17 first-period shots were the most in a single period in the NCAA Championship game since 1988 when St. Lawrence had 20 in a period against Lake Superior State.
The Badgers are 6-2-0 in NCAA title games. Boston College drops to 2-5-0 and 1-3-0 under Jerry York.
Boston College and Wisconsin met tonight for the 17th time, the third time in the NCAA tournament, but for the first time in the title game. Wisconsin now leads the series 9-8-0.