While the winner of the award is still sealed and will not be announced until Friday night, Collins decided to continue making his pitch by notching a hat trick against North Dakota at the Bradley Center here Thursday afternoon. His three goals forced the Sioux to play from behind the entire game and the Eagles advanced to the national championship game with a 6-5 victory.
Much of the game was spent in special-team situations and surprisingly, there were more shorthanded goals (3) than there were power play tallies — the teams combined for two in 14 power plays.
"I think the biggest thing is that our confidence has just sky-rocketed," Collins said of the recent offensive spark by the Eagles. "I think all of our guys just feel like they can score right now."
Brett Motherwell scored his fourth of the year, beating UND goal Jordan Parise glove-side at 7:43 in the first period. Collins followed suit with a shot to the same corner of the net and scored two of three BC goals in the opening 20 minutes as the Eagles jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead despite being outshot 12-5 in the opening frame.
"We had the early lead which I think really helped our confidence," Boston College head coach Jerry York said.
"They played very well tonight, played very hard, they executed better than we did on this particular night," UND head coach Dave Hakstol said. "The one thing we did tonight, though we may not have played our best game of the year … there was not an ounce of quit to the final buzzer."
Faced with the adverse situation, North Dakota refused to give up. Thanks to a Rastislav Spirko's short-handed goal and Rylan Kaip's third goal of the season, they fought back within one goal with less than seven minutes left in the second frame.
The Eagles were not about to squander their lead, and got a huge goal from freshman Anthony Aiello. His first goal of the year came two minutes after Kaip's and moved the lead to 4-2.
"We were kind of on our heels and he gave us the two-goal cushion again," BC goalie Cory Schneider said of Aiello's goal.
Collins would cap off his hat trick 23 seconds before the horn sounded the second intermission.
That goal really ended up being the dagger, especially considering the play by Schneider. The Eagles' goalie had 36 saves in the game, but it was his pass that sparked Collins' goal on the BC power play.
"Cory made an incredible play on the puck … and they weren't really ready for that," Collins said. "To jump out like that felt amazing."
Boston College held on in the third, though the Sioux refused to give up. With an extra attacker on the ice, they scored with 13 seconds left, though they ran out of time to complete a comeback.
The Eagles will play in the title game Saturday, their fourth championship contest in the past nine years. They will take on the winner of the Wisconsin/Maine game later tonight.