Few men try for best ever, and Colin Wilson is one of those.
He is one game, and perhaps one award, from carving his name alongside those of Chris Drury, Mike Eruzione and Jay Pandolfo in the pantheon of Terrier ice hockey’s all-time greats, a heady and lofty class of player indeed. His two goals and an assist tonight in BU’s sure-thing, had-it-all-the-way 5-4 win over Hockey East rival Vermont in the NCAA semifinals will, should the Terriers prevail over Miami on Saturday, become the stuff of legend.
So dominant was his performance, and that of the mighty BU backline, that it rescued the Terriers from the woeful goaltending of Kieran Millan.
The Nashville Predators draft pick, who tomorrow could be given the Hobey Baker award as the nation’s most outstanding college hockey player, and his linemates, Jason Lawrence and Chris Higgins, keyed BU to a sublime first period in which their Terriers outshot Vermont 14-7 despite affording their opponents three power plays, and outscored them 2-0 on goals from Wilson and Lawrence. Coach Jack Parker could not have asked for a better period from his troops.
In the second, though, things began to swing in Vermont’s direction thanks to a pair of ugly goals surrendered by Millan, a freshman whose stats are so good as to nudge a toe to the line of absurdity. He was simply dreadful, allowing soft goal after soft goal as Vermont mounted its sturdy, persistent comeback. He allowed a goal to Wahs Stacey less than four minutes in, then two more in 40 seconds before the 10-minute mark. To be fair, though, the team in front of him did a fairly convincing impression of a Robert Louis Stevenson novella in the middle frame to let Vermont back into the game and, indeed, take the lead.
But the game was dead and buried at 17:06 of the period when Patrick Cullity took an interference penalty to give BU a power play. Something to know about these teams’ respective special teams units: BU’s power play was second in the country coming into this game, running at 22.1 percent, and Vermont’s penalty kill was 42nd in the country, running at 81.1 percent. So when I tell you that the power play goal from Vinny Saponari on a feed from Nick Bonino so picturesque as to make Monet weep was a fait accompli, you will agree.
But Vermont, ever persistent, edged ahead again on another emollient power play goal (the Catamounts were 2 for 7 on the night and neither should have gotten past Millan) before being violently thrust aside by an ardent Terrier onslaught like a butterfly in the blitz. In the critical third period, Vermont may have gotten the first goal, but so overwhelmed were its defensemen that the end result could never have been anything but a crushing defeat.
First came a goal from Chris Higgins, who ended the night with four points, at 13:06. Then just 70 seconds later, BU won a draw to the right of UVM netminder Rob Madore, and Wilson, a huge and impressive physical specimen at 6-foot-2 and 215, leaned in against Dean Strong, who is generously listed at 5-foot-9, 173.
Cometh the moment, cometh the man.
Wilson won the draw back to Higgins, who fired from the top of the circle, and rotated down toward Madore. Higgins’ shot hit the post, and bounced fortuitously to Wilson’s stick. But players like him, the special ones, make their own luck, and, somehow unmarked despite being the most lethal player in college hockey, found himself looking at 24 square feet of wide open net. That was all that stood between Wilson and a chance at immortality.
He didn’t miss. The great ones never do.
Miami 4, Bemidji State 1
Congratulations, Miami Red Hawks on beating the brains out of a beloved Cinderella team that everyone could get behind. I hope you enjoy being pummelled into a fine mush on Saturday.
And now for actual NHL games, about which I cared little tonight…
Boston 5, Montreal 4 (OT)
If you missed this game, you did yourself a great disservice. Immensely entertaining game between two teams that obviously do not like eachother. I really hope they meet in the playoffs again this year. Speaking of which, the unfortunate thing is that, by forcing overtime on the back of some marvelous power play goals from Alex Kovalev and Mathieu Schneider, the Habs locked up their playoff spot which is not good because…
New York Rangers 2, Philadelphia 1
…This win also locked up the Rangers’ playoff spot. Meaning…
Buffalo 5, Carolina 1
(no no, go to the next one! although let’s first stop to say, “lol, hurricanes.”)
Florida 3, Atlanta 2
…The Panthers won’t make the playoffs. Again. Even though they won tonight behind a David Booth goal late in the third. It’s too bad. I was really pulling for them.
New Jersey 3, Ottawa 2 (SO)
Oh the Devils might be getting back on track. After all, they beat the Senators (inashootout). Hooray hooray it’s all coming together.
Pittsburgh 6, New York Islanders 1
I didn’t watch the game, but I guess Mathieu Garon was unreal for the Pens. Color me shocked. Even if it was against the Islanders, who are now fully and completely Tavares-minded, he’s Mathieu freaking Garon for crying out loud.
Washington 4, Tampa Bay 2
Mike Green had three points. That’s really about the only thing that matters.
Nashville 4, Detroit 3 (SO)
Jason Arnott had a good night I guess. With his Preds still outside the playoffs looking in and down 3-1 to Detroit, he was like “Nah dude I got this.” Two goals in the final 6:42, including the game-tying goal with a minute to go, sent the game to OT. And his goal in the shootout was the winner. Did I mention he just came back from a concussion last Saturday?
Dallas 3, Colorado 2 (SO)
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is going to outsuck the Avalanche these days, Dallas. They are a team in need of a good ol’ fashioned blowing-up and they’ve been awful busy making that perfectly clear the last few weeks. Also, this happened:
Vancouver 1, Los Angeles 0
Well I hope you’re proud of yourself, Ryan Kesler. You beat the Kings. Bravo.
Phoenix 4, San Jose 1
Haha what? Scottie Upshall has 13 points in 18 games since getting traded to the Coyotes? Go figure.