WORCESTER, Mass. -- There is something about DCU Center that Boston College just loves.
For the sixth straight NCAA Northeast Regional held in Worcester, it was the Eagles who left flying high and bound for the Frozen Four once again.
It turned out to not be easy in the end, but the second-seeded Eagles clinched their trip to Tampa ― their 12th Frozen Four in head coach Jerry York's career ― with a 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth on Saturday night downtown in "The Heart of the Commonwealth."
"(We're) so excited," said York, whose team improved to 28-7-5 on the season with the victory. "I think I'll keep on coming back here."
Senior captain Teddy Doherty scored two goals to pace an Eagle attack which built a 3-0 lead in the contest, while junior Thatcher Demko made 28 saves on 30 shots en route to being named the All-Tournament Team goaltender and Most Outstanding Player.
It was not the easiest of playoff runs for York and the Eagles as they endured a three-game quarterfinal series with Vermont in Hockey East before a semifinal loss to Northeastern.
When the tournament becomes national, it's all about taking it one game at a time. And that's exactly what BC did.
"I think we have a whole locker room full of guys that have played hockey the right way and they are very talented, they are very skilled and a hard working club," York said. "You don’t have to win every game, but you have to win the right games as you go through here and this certainly was the right game for us tonight."
Duluth carried the play for much of the first period and ultimately held a 10-8 shots on goal advantage, but it was Doherty who opened the scoring against the run of play at the 14:06 mark.
UMD goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo got a big piece of Doherty's shot, but it trickled between his legs and just over the line. Junior Adam Gilmour fed the puck to Doherty on the left side, where he let the puck go for his 12th goal of the season.
"Obviously, their forecheck was a point of emphasis tonight, get in on their bigger D and make them make plays," Doherty said. "Gilmour made a heck of a play between his legs and then just tried to put it on net, and luckily it went in."
It was Doherty who doubled BC's lead just 2:52 into the second period, ensuring his third multi-goal game and 25th point of the season.
Junior Chris Calnan did great work along the boards to start the play, working the puck off the boards before sending a pass across to sophomore Zach Sanford. Sanford found Doherty at the top of the crease, where he stuffed the puck through Kaskisuo.
"He has been a really pleasant surprise because he hasn’t played a ton for us over his career, at least not in key situations," York said of Doherty. "This year as a captain he took it upon himself to improve his game in all different parts. ... He is small in stature, but he really is a dynamite leader for us."
The Eagles were unable to hit cruise control, despite taking a 3-0 lead at the 6:35 mark of the third. Junior Ryan Fitzgerald made a terrific shot from the left circle that beat Kaskisuo under the crossbar.
Duluth would not go quietly, continuing its third-period success with two more goals to bring the margin back to one. Senior Austin Farley got the Bulldogs on the board at 12:59 as he walked towards the net and lifted a shot over Demko's shoulder from in tight.
The 12th goal of Karson Kuhlman's sophomore season came at the 15:34 mark as he took advantage of a rebound off Farley's shot, picking the puck from outside Demko's pads and sending it home.
It was just a little too little too late for UMD, which finishes the season with 40 goals in the final stanza.
"It's been hard to score goals and our guys have worked hard and created a number of chances," UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said. "I think it was a lot of missed opportunities of missing the net, and things like that. Maybe early in the game if we got a goal earlier or somewhere in there it changes the tone of the game a little bit."
Farley had a golden chance to tie the game in the waning minute of a third period in which each team took ten shots on net, but junior Austin Cangelosi bailed out a sprawling Demko with a clutch play to whisk the puck out of the crease.
UMD's senior assistant captain had a great look at an open side of the net that bounced off Demko and into the blue paint, but Cangelosi backed up his netminder to preserve the lead.
"I know the puck was shot and it hit our defenseman in front and kind of bounced right near the goal in there and I kind of just dove back," said Demko, who combined to make 20 of his stops in the first 40 minutes. "It was probably inches, centimeters, away from making it over the line."
The right play to make and the right game to win have led BC to the right place to be come April 7.