by Brian Weidler, Game Time Prospect Department
The headline above was the motto of the Kingdom of Prussia (Otto von Bismarck's homeland), and means "God Is With Us." America's two most prominent Catholic universities, Notre Dame and Boston College, might well want to adopt that motto for themselves after yesterday's performances to vault them into the NCAA Championship Game.
The first game was the Nathan Gerbe Show, as the Buffalo draftee scored a hat trick in leading Boston College to a 6-1 blowout of North Dakota and Blues' top prospect T.J. Oshie (drafted 24th overall in 2005). Oshie, like the rest of his high-profile North Dakota mates, was held off the scoreboard by a BC club that played an almost-flawless fundamental game, and was limited to a late charging penalty and a minus-3 mark for the game.
2008 draft-eligible forward Ben Smith (RW, shoots R, 5'11, 195, ranked 184th in North America at midterm by Central Scouting) also tallied for the Eagles in the rout, and could draw some interest from the Blues with one of their mid-round picks after posting 25 goals (10 on the PP, 4 GWG) and 48 points in 44 games to date.
Oshie finishes the year 18-27-45 in 42 games played, with a plus-15 mark, 57 minutes in penalty time, seven power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and five game-winners. In the post-game press conference, Oshie commented on why BC fed the Sioux their lunch, and what the future might hold:
"It was a combination of a lot of different things. A little too many turnovers, and they capitalized on a lot of plays that they had. It’s tough to come back when the other team just keeps scoring ... This team built an identity and I think that identity is going to carry on into next year. That’s hard work, that’s Fighting Sioux hockey, which is never giving up. I think this loss is going to sit with us all summer and make us that much more hungry next year."
On the surface, that quote could be a troubling indication of Oshie's intent to come back to UND for one more kick at the can... but your Prospect Department is taking the position that Oshie phrased his response that way out of respect for his teammates who will be returning to Grand Forks next year. He's still part of the team, and thus refers to the team as "us" instead of emphasizing that he's more than likely about to depart for greener pastures in St. Louis.
UPDATE: The Dickinson Press had this from Oshie that makes it sound like he only has memories of his time at UND:
"I’m always going to remember being with the boys," said Oshie, who will ponder signing with the St. Louis Blues in the coming weeks.
"We’ve got a lot of people on this team who I’m going to be friends with for the rest of my life. And there are a couple of best friends in that group. We’ve gone through our ups and downs together and we’ve battled together.
"It’s unfortunate that we have to go out like this. But if there is a group of guys I have to go out with, this would definitely be it."
In the late game, draft-eligible freshman Calle Ridderwall scored twice, including the overtime game-winner, to help lead Notre Dame past top-ranked Michigan and into a showdown with Boston College on Saturday. Ridderwall, the first native Swede to play the entire season for the Fighting Irish, was passed over in last year's NHL Entry Draft, but may well get some notice this year after his gutsy performance in the semifinal last night.
Blues' prospect defenseman Ian Cole (18th overall in 2007) assisted on Kevin Deeth's go-ahead goal at 11:30 of the third period, but a goal by Swedish World Junior standout Carl Hagelin three minutes later simply delayed the inevitable.
For the Wolverines, forward prospect Aaron Palushaj (44th overall in 2007) was the offensive star of the game, assisting on three of Michigan's four goals, including Hagelin's third-period marker to send the game into OT. Palushaj finishes a fine freshman season at UM with 10-34-44 totals, 22 PIM, and a plus-10 mark in 43 games played.
The Eagles and Fighting Irish will face off Saturday evening at 6:00 CDT from the Pepsi Center in Denver for the championship. ESPN is covering the game nationally.
"If we do not prepare for ourselves the role of the hammer, there will be nothing left but that of the anvil." -- Otto von Bismarck, 1851