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Apr 12, 2024 5:31 pm

Powerhouse teams Boston College, Denver face off for national title

cutter gauthier

A pair of storied programs, Boston College and Denver, face off for the NCAA men’s hockey championship Saturday evening in Saint Paul, Minn.

Boston College (34-5-1) is the top overall seed and is seeking its first title since 2012. Denver (31-9-3) is going for its second title in three years and its record 10th title overall.

The stakes could not be higher, and players on both sides could not be more determined.

“Anytime someone commits to Boston College, it’s to win championships,” Eagles forward Cutter Gauthier said. “And we have an opportunity for that on Saturday.”

The same is true for Denver, which has won three straight games by a single goal.

“We’re just extremely confident,” Pioneers goaltender Matt Davis said, “and feel battle-tested.”

Boston College is coming off a dominant 4-0 win over Michigan in the NCAA Frozen Four on Thursday night. Will Smith scored two goals, Gauthier added another goal and Gabe Perreault finished the scoring to send the Eagles to the title game.

Gauthier leads the nation with 38 goals, which also is tied for the most in a single season in Boston College history. David Emma (1989-90) and Scott Harlow (1985-86) also enjoyed 38-goal seasons for the Eagles, and Gauthier has a chance to break the record Saturday.

Smith has 25 goals after his two-goal performance Thursday. The Massachusetts native watched the Eagles’ 2012 title run as a child and now has a chance to bring another championship trophy to Chestnut Hill, Mass.

“(If you had) told me as a kid, this would be kind of crazy,” Smith said. “I remember the days I was watching Johnny Gaudreau in the same Frozen Four. So it’s a dream come true. It would be unbelievable to get that trophy just like he did.”

Denver is coming off three consecutive 2-1 victories, two of which required overtime. The Pioneers outlasted Boston University for a 2-1 overtime win on Thursday in the first Frozen Four matchup.

Davis turned aside 33 of 34 shots for Denver, and Tristan Broz provided the winning goal with 8:51 remaining in the extra session.

Broz said he and his teammates never lost their cool in high-pressure situations.

“Just like Coach (David) Carle said, these 2-1 games can go either way,” Broz said. “There’s bounces that happen throughout the game, and you just have to stick with it and keep playing because those bounces happen. But you’re still in a tight hockey game.”

Both teams enter the final matchup on a hot streak.

Boston College is riding a 15-game winning streak. Its last loss took place Feb. 5 against Boston University in the city’s famous “Beanpot Tournament.”

Meanwhile, Denver is 13-1-1 in its past 15 games.

The teams met Oct. 21, when Denver notched a 4-3 road win over Boston College. Carter King scored a power-play goal in the third period to lift the Pioneers.

“That was a long time ago,” Boston College coach Greg Brown said. “We’ve improved a lot. But that was a really fun hockey game.

“It was back and forth. It was two good teams both making a lot of plays.”

–Field Level Media

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