NCAA HOCKEY BEST POSTSEASON MOMENTS COUNTDOWN – #4: Jon Muse, BC, and a wildly dominant Frozen Four

Earlier in this countdown, we featured the team we declared the most dominant college hockey team to ever play as the 1992-1993 UMaine squad. But that team, as most teams do had to deal with adversity down the stretch, winning an overtime game in the Final Four and needing to overcome a two-goal deficit in the championship game. That’s how it’s supposed to be – the games get harder as the number of teams dwindle. That’s why with our #4 moment, we will be honoring the 2010 BC hockey team, which had possibly the most dominant Final Four in history. Along with the 2010 title, a notable achievement included in this #4 slot is the postseason acumen of goaltender Jon Muse, who improved his career NCAA Tournament record to 8-0. For their ridiculous postseason dominance, BC’s 2010 title team is our #4 moment in our NCAA Hockey postseason moments countdown.

BC entered the 2010 season coming off a rare disappointing campaign in 2009, but they were just one year removed from a title. In ten of eleven seasons from 1997 to 2008, the Eagles appeared in the NCAA quarterfinals, making the Frozen Four in eight of those years. They made six national championship games, and they took home the hardware twice. However, 2009 was a rarity, as the Eagles struggled an 11-11-5 record in Hockey East play. To add insult to injury, their season ended in the Hockey East semifinals with a 3-2 loss to archrival Boston University. The Eagles started the 2010 season looking to reclaim their usual perch around or at the top of the college hockey world. 

BC welcomed in a heralded freshman class which featured four players selected in the 2009 NHL draft, headlined by forward Chris Kreider (19th overall), and defensemen Brian Dumoulin, Philip Samuelson, and Patrick Wey. The talented freshman class made up for some graduation losses, and after a slow 2-2-1 start to the year, the Eagles turned on the gas. They went 8-1-1 in their next ten contests, including rivalry wins at BU and Harvard. After their only real rough stretch of the year, where they went 2-5, BC picked up steam once more and hardly looked back, finishing the year with nine wins and a tie in their final twelve games. All-in-all, BC finished 29-10-3 and, despite being higher ranked, they were second in the Hockey East standings to UNH. 

BC had a strong regular season, but it was their postseason that made their season remarkable. BC showed they had the offense to outduel teams in slugfests, beating UMass in game 1 of the playoffs 6-5, before flashing their spectacular defense with 5-2 and 3-0 wins to push into the championship against the fourth-seeded Maine Black Bears. In one of the most classic Hockey East title games, BC battled back and forth with a desperate Maine team that needed the Hockey East auto-bid to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. After a high-scoring game was not decided in regulation, BC shut the door on the Black Bears in overtime, claiming a 7-6 victory. The conference championship earned BC a #1 seed and the fourth overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Behind a strong defensive performance, BC survived a mini-upset bid from Alaska in the regional semifinals. Alaska tied the game 1-1 on a power-play goal, but the Eagles took the lead back early in the third period, and behind Muse’s 28 saves and a late empty-netter, they pushed into the regional final against Yale. There, BC needed every ounce of offense they could get to survive an instant classic with the Bulldogs. 

BC looked to have the game very much in hand at various times, but Yale put up a fight to the very end, keeping the result in doubt. Maintaining a 3-2 edge, the Eagles snapped off three straight goals, two from Cam Atkinson, to seemingly put the Bulldogs away, leading 6-2 with under five minutes to play in the second. However, Yale stunned BC and the crowd by beating Muse twice in 1 minute and 17 seconds of game time to trim the deficit to two goals after two periods. In five prior NCAA Tournament games, Muse had given up a total of five goals, yet Yale had put up four on him in two periods, and they weren’t done. BC answered Yale’s surge in kind, with three consecutive goals, starting with Atkinson securing his hat trick and then two by Jimmy Hayes to give BC a comfortable 9-4 lead. They maintained that lead with seven minutes to play, but suddenly Yale made another run, striking three times in just over five minutes. While still trailing 9-7, the Bulldogs were within striking distance with 90 seconds to play, and they had put up 7 goals on a goalie giving up a goal per game in his NCAA tournament career. Muse stiffened and made a few saves to put away Yale, but it was a strange and very exciting contest with the result in doubt until the final minute. 

With that brief comeback scare in their rearview mirror, BC was never to be challenged again. Facing the top overall seed, Miami of Ohio, in the Frozen Four semifinals, the Eagles breezed past the Redhawks with remarkable ease. BC notched a goal late in the first period, and then tacked on two more in a 62-second span at the start of the second period for a commanding 3-0 lead. Unlike the Yale game, there would be no late surge, as Miami scratched out one goal, only to see BC respond with four more in the third period to take a massive 7-1 semifinal victory. 

In the national title game, BC faced another higher seed and Frozen Four veteran in Wisconsin. The Badgers were making their ninth title game appearance, and they were also coming off a dominating semifinal victory, an 8-1 destruction of RIT. Yet, even they could not slow down the avalanche that was the Boston College hockey team. To wrap up their run to the national championship, BC turned to defense first to hold onto a slim lead, before leaning on their explosive offense to finish off the Badgers. Ben Smith slotted one in for the Eagles in the first period for a 1-0 advantage they would hold through two periods. In that stretch, BC killed off two penalties, and Muse racked up fourteen saves. Then, in the third period, much like they had all year, the Eagles simply outskated their opponent in the final stages. Atkinson found the back of net less than two minutes into the period for a 2-0 lead, and the BC onslaught commenced. Just two more minutes of game time expired off the clock before Kreider tacked on another for the Eagles, and when Atkinson put away his second of the game, BC led 4-0 with 12:40 left to play. Wisconsin managed just six shots on Muse all period, all of which he turned away. The Badgers pulled their goalie with five minutes to play, but Matt Price fired one into the vacant net with 4:40 to play, icing the dominant 5-0 performance. Over four NCAA Tournament games, BC outscored their opponents 14-3 in the third period, and 24-9 overall. 

The Aftermath

Outside of the Yale game, Muse allowed just two goals in three games, and even with the Yale game, Muse’s career record in the NCAA Tournament improved to 8-0 with a 1.63 GAA. Including the Hockey East tournament, BC’s offense averaged 5.63 goals per playoff game, only falling short of five goals twice in the eight-game playoff run. 

BC’s run of dominance was not over, as they qualified for the next six NCAA tournaments. They made it to three Frozen Fours and won another title in 2012, making it three championships in five years. In that NCAA Tournament run, BC outscored their postseason opponents 16-2. BC has struggled in recent years, not making the tournament from 2017-2019, but the Eagles were back in full force this year, ranked fifth in the country before the unfortunate cancellation of the season. Despite his dominant playing career at BC, Muse went undrafted, but he has bounced around at various levels of professional hockey. He’s spent 9 seasons in the AHL, six in the ECHL, and spent the past season playing overseas.

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