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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 19, 2024
Boston College's speed overwhelms Wisconsin

Mitchell: Senior forward John Mitchell and Wisconsin could not create any scoring chances against Boston College?s defense Saturday.

Boston College's speed overwhelms Wisconsin

DETROIT—Between bowl games against the SEC and basketball matchups with Michigan State, Wisconsin fans grow tired of the comparison and the notion that Badger sports are more ""grind"" than ""go."" But the men's hockey team has been an exception this year, combining a physical style of play with dynamic athletes and top-tier talent. In Saturday night's national championship contest, however, Boston College put a level of speed on display that UW just could not keep up with for a full 60 minutes.

That is not to say that speed is the be all, end all in hockey, or that it was the only factor in the 5-0 final that ended in disappointment for Wisconsin, but it certainly had a direct impact on UW's ability to execute its game plan. After Boston College took a two-goal lead early in the third period, it was able to find more space on the wings and succeeded multiple times in carrying the puck deep into the Wisconsin zone.

""A little bit of it is that we're trying to score,"" said Wisconsin assistant coach Mark Osiecki, who oversees the defensive corps. ""We couldn't get a lot of offense going, and so you start cheating and trying to generate something in a positive way on the offensive side.""

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The offensive struggles for Wisconsin started early and continued throughout the contest. For the first two periods momentum swung back and forth, but the Badgers could never find sustained pressure. Their ability to dump the puck into the corners and then dig it out using physical play was rendered largely ineffective because Boston College regularly beat UW to the puck. When the Badgers did reach the puck, an Eagle defender always seemed to be in position to take it away.

""Their defense did a good job of blocking shots and collapsing down low and pressuring us pretty hard and getting turnovers high in the zone,"" senior captain Blake Geoffrion said. Geoffrion was named a first-team All-American and also became the school's first ever Hobey Baker Award winner on Friday.

Fellow senior forward John Mitchell took a penalty for making contact with the head of an opponent with his elbow. The penalty followed a stretch of some positive offensive work for the Badgers and led to Boston College's first goal. Mitchell, who is listed at 6'5"" and was by far the tallest player on the ice, received an identical penalty in the Badgers' 8-1 semifinal victory over Rochester Institute of Technology.

""It's a tough penalty,"" Osiecki said. ""We asked the refs, and they said he can't even make contact. He's not running at a guy, he doesn't have his hands up, he doesn't have his elbows up, he certainly didn't hit him blindside. You're telling him that he can't hit.""

While a no-call would not have cured the Badgers' inability to keep pace with the Eagles' forwards for 60 minutes, it stood as one of many frustrating details in the final step for a team that said it expected to compete for a national championship from the first day of the season.

Next year's squad will have a very different look, as seven seniors depart. And others, including junior defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Brendan Smith and sophomore forward Derek Stepan, will have to weigh the option of leaving school to sign with their respective NHL teams. Still, Mitchell thinks the weekend in Detroit will help down the road.

""I think that this will help a lot of the younger guys as experience for next season,"" he said. ""They'll have this under their belt and they'll be able to bring that strength to their game.""

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