Defense was the name of the game Saturday in the first Northeast Regional semifinal between Boston College and Air Force.

The Falcons held the Eagles, who have scored 62 goals in the course of their 16-game win streak, to one goal until the final 1:41. Goaltender Jason Torf made 32 saves before giving up BC’s second goal.

“That was our game plan. You don’t want to go get in a shootout with BC; that’s not going to turn out well for you,” said Air Force captain Paul Weisgarber. “We wanted to limit their chances and keep them to the perimeter. We felt that if we could do that, we could win it late in the third.”

BC, for its part, served Air Force its first shutout of the season, holding the Falcons to just eight grade-A chances.

“They really started to turn it on in the last five minutes,” said BC goaltender Parker Milner. “We really shut them down defensively; all their shots came from behind the dots. It was a great team effort.”

Air Force entered the game looking to hold BC to the perimeter in order to limit the quality of BC’s shots. The Falcons largely achieved that, allowing only five grade-A chances over the first two periods.

“There’s no way we were going to be able to stop Boston College, so we wanted to push them into areas and contain them the best we can,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said. “We pushed them to the outside, and we had numbers back. We didn’t give them an out-numbered rush the entire game”

BC is typically very good at creating odd-man rushes. The Eagles are strong, fast skaters who seize those opportunities well. That the Falcons, a slower team, were able to hold off any odd-man rushes said a lot about their game plan.

“Our game plan was to get to that third period with the score close,” Serratore said. “If you win the third period, you’ve got a great chance. You’re either going to win it in the third or you’re going to have the momentum to win it in overtime.”

The plan proved to be a good one as it worked out just as Serratore hoped it would, putting Air Force right where it wanted to be in the final minutes of the game. If not for a poorly timed penalty, it may have worked out for them.

However, the Eagles played great defense on their end as well. Milner earned his fourth shutout of the year, making 20 saves. BC’s defense has been strong all year — the Eagles have allowed an average of 26.92 shots and 2.14 goals per game. BC has allowed only 20 goals in its current win streak.

“From the goal out, we’re an excellent defensive team,” BC coach Jerry York said. “To be a championship team, in most sports, you’ve got to have a solid defense.”

Both teams did their best to prove York’s statement about needing a good defense. The Eagles just did it a little bit better.

  • BC HE Fan

    Great games from both Air Force and Boston College … which I could say the same about the 3rd team on the ice; our friends in stripes.

    You had to love Coach Serratore’s “Double Thumbs Up” to the officials after BC scored on the power play late in the 3rd to ice the game. He showed total control; as I would have been giving a “double something else” …

    You have to score to win, and Air Force did not score in the 1st 58 minutes, but they were pressing for the tying goal and getting some good chances … and then “that call”; TERRIBLE.

    Officiating was no better in the Maine-UMD game; where lengthy delays were the norm for both the obvious goal … and Maine’s 2nd goal; which the officials may have gotten the call right (where you play to the whistle) … but to have that long a review could only have pissed the UMD players off more.  After that, it was ALL UMD.

  • Butch

    A nondescript, ho-hum game… Up and down the ice, but just an afternoon skate for both teams. An uneasy one-goal lead made for potential upset drama, but the fact that BC barely had to extend themselves, will benefit their cause vs UMD.  Best two games of the tournament today… can’t wait!