I still do not believe what I saw last night.
Yes, Minnesota-Duluth did something similar to Princeton in the first round of this year's NCAA men's Division 1 hockey tournament, but my team did it under pressure in the national championship game with the bright ESPN lights shining and the word "choke" visible from the rafters.
I am proud to be a Terrier this morning. The former Boston University quarterback and Boston Red Sox player struck down in his relative youth whom I named this blog after looks down proudly, too.
Maybe even John Silber, the only Texan on the planet who hates football (and whose budget-cutting move ensured my alma mater has remained undefeated on the gridiron since 1997), had a little spring in his step this morning.
And there will be no confusing us with '08 Frozen Four champ Boston College today, I trust.
True, BU was the big favorite to win in its first Frozen Four appearance in 12 years, being the only top seed going up against two threes (Miami, Ohio, and Vermont) and a four (Bemidji State). To lose would've been college hockey's equivalent of an undefeated Patriots team losing Super Bowl XLII. More pressure. As a poster on sportsjournalists.com put it, it was like a Final Four of North Carolina going up against Siena, Cal State-Northridge and Binghamton, only more dangerous.
Even after Thursday's third-period rally to beat a Vermont team that beat us twice at Agganis Arena in November, the boys still played for almost 59 minutes as if the status of top dog was a backbreaking burden, not a challenge. Miami mucked up the middle of the ice all night, not letting BU run its preferred track meet on skates and letting the air out of the puck. Freshman goalie Kieran Millan, brilliant all season, made some big saves but was still fighting the puck after giving up two bad goals against Vermont. The team took too many bad penalties (seven to Miami's two), and the penalty-killing unit seemed to be the only part of the machine running efficiently.
And when the Terriers got sloppy in their own end during the third period, despite the presence of Hobey Baker Award-winning defenseman Matt Gilroy, the Redhawks took advantage twice. When Trent Vogelhuber made it a 3-1 game with 4:08, I thought about Kevin Shattenkirk having to carry that ghastly turnover around with him all summer.
At 3:12, BU coach Jack Parker pulled Millan with a faceoff in the Miami end, and I thought of the first-round game with Ohio State, when the Buckeyes pulled their goalie after cutting BU's lead to 6-3 with just over six minutes left. It took the Terriers about 15 seconds to find that open net.
Fortunately, the team that had kept the pressure on and crashed the net all season arrived in our nation's capital, and Zack Cohen scored with 58.5 seconds left. Maybe, just maybe...but then again, due to the BU Alumni Club of Rhode Island's enthusiasm for wine tastings and quiche-making demonstrations and lack of enthusiasm for hockey, I was watching at home, where I had to fear the wrath of rousing a sleeping Lady of Agganis Manor. Hey, UMD did it...
That fear was gone 41 seconds later, when Nick Bonino found the net for the tie. At least a college buddy from New Jersey called before I could bounce off the walls. We did have to survive a tricky rolling puck that almost handcuffed Millan in the final second of regulation.
Great games are often decided on stupid goals, such as the Northeast final with New Hampshire, won on a goal bouncing in off a sliding UNH defenseman with 15 seconds left in regulation. The boys found their skating legs again in OT, and the renewed push finally paid off at 11:47 with a theatrical game-winner Colby Cohen fired for the wide side of the net. Miami defenseman Kevin Roeder will be haunted the rest of his days by the puck that shot up off his sliding leg, over goalie Cody Reichard's left shoulder and into the net. They say you never see the shot that kills you.
For safety's sake, I took the phone outside.
There may be many more of you in North Carolina and Florida who got to whoop up national championships this year, but you didn't enjoy your titles any more than I did last night (I actually fell asleep during the second half of the Heels' mopup of Michigan State Monday night). And hockey is really the only sport in which BU plays at the very top level - our basketball team, with the city of Boston and the conference's best facility, should be dominating America East but doesn't. We've been to March Madness, but just to take part (as a first-round warmup act for a one or two seed).
Even if Miami had pulled it out, this game would not have been in vain if it turns more people on to the wonder that is college hockey (no fights, purists, although when BU plays that school at the other end of Commonwealth Ave....)