WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Having coached Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau in junior hockey, Denver coach Jim Montgomery knew what the Pioneers might be in against the top-seeded Eagles.
Even Montgomery, who Friday compared Gaudreau to Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk, had to be surprised by Gaudreau’s performance in Boston College’s 6-2 victory Saturday in the NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal.
Gaudreau scored 25 seconds into the game, went on to his first college hat trick and also had three assists to match his career high in points and come within a point of matching the NCAA tournament record.
He and linemates Kevin Hayes and Bill Arnold combined for 13 points as BC (27-7-4) advanced to the final Sunday against UMass-Lowell or Minnesota State-Mankato.
Asked after the game what he needs for next year, Montgomery said, “Johnny Gaudreau,” and then made it clear he meant he’d like “a clone” and not the real thing.
“Their top line was phenomenal tonight,” Montgomery said. “They made high-end plays and there’s a reason that those guys will end up playing at a higher level and making a lot of money.”
The Eagles, upset two weeks ago by Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East tournament, were coming off their second long layoff in the past month. But any chance of this team being rusty was quickly erased by Gaudreau and his linemates, who scored all six goals as BC built a 6-0 second-period lead.
BC is trying to win its third national title in the last five years, its fifth of the 2000s.
Gaudreau, drafted by the Calgary Flames, came into the game with 15 two-goal games, seven this season. He capped his hat trick 8:13 into the second period.
He scored his first goal wide open in front, the second by sweeping his way to a wraparound and the third from behind the net banking it in off goalie Sam Brittain.
“I was kind of excited to play in the game and I didn’t want to send Kevin and Billy out of their BC careers without a good run for this championship,” Gaudreau, a junior, said about his senior linemates. “That’s kind of what’s pushing me, is trying to help them get a national championship.
“It’s hard not to produce on the score sheet when you’re playing with Kevin and Bill.”
The line has been together for 24 games — and has 122 points
Hayes had two goals and two assists, and Arnoldhad a goal and two assists Saturday.
The Eagles easily ended Denver’s season, after the Pioneers (20-16-6) came in off winning the NCHC tournament in Montgomery’s first year on the job.
It was Denver’s seventh straight trip to the tournament.
“We knew in order to have success today we would have had to have played perfect hockey,” Montgomery said. “Unfortunately, Boston College played perfect hockey.”
Trevor Moore and Evan Janssen scored for Denver, as freshman BC goalie Thatcher Demko made 18 saves in his first NCAA tournament game.
“I’m really proud of our group, who has been able to win a championship and add to the tradition of Denver hockey,” Montgomery said.
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