PHILADELPHIA -- Trailing by a goal midway through the third period, Boston College found itself on a five minute power play with a chance to not only tie, but potentially take the lead against Union in the first semifinal of the Frozen Four.
But the Eagles were only able to muster two shots on goal during the extended man-advantage, and then four seconds later, Union made Boston College pay.
The Dutchmen were able to fend off a Boston College rally in the third period, and took down the Eagles 5-4 to advance to college hockey's national championship game on Saturday.
"It was a nice turning point, and the bench was actually pretty calm when it happened," said Ric Bennett, Union's head coach, of his team's key penalty kill. "We needed to keep our sticks down on the ice because we knew they're so good at finding those seam passes."
The first period belonged to the Eagles, as Boston College's top line did what it always does: score. Only 2:08 into the opening frame, Bill Arnold found Kevin Hayes, who's shot created a rebound in front for Johnny Gaudreau and the game's first goal.
The normally quick-skating Dutchmen were held at bay through the first 20 minutes, but came out stronger in the second. It paid off quickly as Mike Vecchione drove hard to the net forcing a save out of Thatcher Demko. Later in the same sequence, the puck worked its way back to the point, and captain Mat Bodie waited and fired it from the blue line past Demko to knot the score at one.
Mat Bodie's 'Winnipeg Pride' elevates Union
Mat Bodie stepped onto the Union College campus to a hockey program that had never been to the NCAA Tournament. Four years later, the pride of East St. Paul, Manitoba has been a key figure in four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Union took its first lead of the day later that period when Demko fumbled a point shot from Shayne Gostisbehere, and Daniel Ciampini popped home the rebound to make it a 2-1 game at 10:45.
The Eagles would respond later though, when Chris Calnan held up the puck in Union's zone, and found a streaking Steve Santini. The Devils prospect, known more for his defensive prowess, made no mistake with the puck firing it over the glove of Colin Stevens to send the game into the third tied at two.
Ciampini got his second of the day early in the final frame to put the Dutchmen ahead. Parked in front of the net, the play again began with a Gostisbehere point shot, which Ciampini got a piece of to deflect home for a 3-2 Union edge.
The momentum was short-lived, as Matt Hatch was given a five minute major and game misconduct for a hit on Michael Sit only 18 seconds later.
"When that happened, the team talked on the bench and said, ‘it's time to bear down,'" said Bodie. "Everyone stepped up, and we didn't really give them much."
With over half the third left to play, and on an extended power play, the Eagles had a great opportunity to shift momentum, but an out-of-sorts Eagles special teams unit struggled to generate any quality scoring chances.
"The main focus was we knew the puck was going to be in Johnny's hands coming up ice," said Gostisbehere. "When it was in-zone, we just stuck to our system; I don't think we've changed our system all year to any team.
"We just knew that it was a big kill, and if we got that kill, it would be a big momentum swing."
Boston College was only able to get off a pair of shots during the extended power play, and as it expired, Union found the back of the net. Kevin Sullivan stripped Santini at the blue line, and after his initial shot was stopped, shoveled the puck to Vecchione who banged it into a wide open net for a 4-2 lead only four seconds after Hatch's major expired.
"You just try not to get frustrated, and coach called a timeout there, and it starts with him," said Arnold of conceding the goal. "He stayed calm and kept us on point, and we were able to get it to 4-3 there, but we couldn't get it tied up.
"You've got to just try to keep your composure and stay calm."
The Eagles would pull within a goal with six attackers and 1:45 left, but Ciampini added an empty-netter to seal his hat trick and make it a 5-3 game. A late Patrick Brown tally pulled the score back to 5-4, but it was too little too late for the Eagles.
"I like how we competed and battled right down to the last second of the hockey game," said Jerry York, Boston College's head coach. "There was definitely no give-up in us."
Union advances to its first national championship game, and awaits the winner of Thursday's second semifinal between Minnesota and North Dakota.