Boston College Eagles take home 10th Hockey East title

By Amy Chaunt

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Junior forward Cam Atkinson scored two goals on Saturday evening for the Boston College hockey team, including the game-winner as the Eagles defeated Merrimack, 5-3, in the 27th annual Hockey East Championship at TD Garden.

Atkinson assisted one goal during the first period and scored two goals during the third period. His play earned him the Hockey East Championship’s Bill Flynn Most Valuable Player Award.

The game had an abrupt start when the first goals scored by each team were only 26 seconds apart. Less than two minutes later, BC scored again, making the score 2-1 11 minutes, three seconds into the contest. With 24 seconds remaining in the first period, Merrimack came right back and tied the score.

After a scoreless second frame, Merrimack began the third period, outshooting BC, 8-1, over the first eight minutes.

BC, however, took the lead when Atkinson scored for the first time at the 9:41 mark, making the score 3-2. Merrimack wasn’t ready to give up as Ryan Flanigan took advantage of a power play opportunity and evened the score at three apiece..

Atkinson took the spotlight again when he scored at the 14:49 mark, which proved to be the game-winner. The Eagles reassured their lead with 1:36 left in the contest when a wrist shot by Brian Dumoulin went past Merrimack goaltender Joe Cannata.

Merrimack bypasses UNH

Before Merrimack met Boston College, it had to defeat New Hampshire. On Friday evening, they did just that as the Warriors defeated UNH, 4-1. This marked the Warriors’ first ever ticket to the Hockey East Championship game.

Warrior goaltender Joe Cannata had a nearly perfect game, besides one goal let in 7:20 into the first period. Stevie Moses had an electrifying play when he split through two Merrimack defenders and scored on Cannata.

However, within 10 minutes of the Wildcat’s goal, the Warriors took the lead for good at 2-1.

Both goaltenders, Cannata and UNH’s Matt Di Girolamo, tightened up their game and stopped all shots in the second period, resulting in a scoreless frame.

Players of both teams were on their toes at the beginning of the final period. At 14:11, Mike Collins provided insurance for the Warriors, increasing their lead to 3-1. Within the last minute of play, Elliott Sheen scored on an open net and clinched the ticket to the championship game.

Cannata finished the game with 30 saves while Di Girolamo recorded 31.

BC advances to HEA title game

Goaltender John Muse was a key factor in Boston College’s 5-4 victory over Northeastern during a semifinal game while on its way to the Hockey East Championship.

After the victory over Merrimack, Muse has a record of 21-1 in postseason games and a 13-1 record in Hockey East playoff games. The senior stopped 33 shots in the semifinal game and was named to the 2011 Hockey East All-Star first team and the Bauer Goaltending Champion for his effort.

The Huskies scored midway through the first period at the 13:48 mark to take the 1-0 lead. It was first-team Hockey East All-Star forward Brian Gibbons who came back not under three minutes later and evened the score at one apiece.

The Eagles continued to pressure goaltender Chris Rawlings, three goals in the second period and one more in the third, increasing BC’s lead to 5-2.

Northeastern began to pull a comeback towards the end of the final period, with Garrett Vermeersch scoring on Muse at the 16:44 mark. With nearly a minute left in the game, Northeastern scored again, closing the deficit to one goal. BC, however, was able to close out the contest and move on to the championship game.

Amy Chaunt can be reached at [email protected]