Badger players and fans remember it all to well and Eagles' contingent wish they forget it. In front of a raucous crowd in Milwaukee's Bradley Center, Wisconsin won their six national championship, beating Boston College 2-1 and making the Dairy State the new capital of college hockey.
But the ensuing off-season hit the Badgers hard, with Wisconsin losing one of the best senior classes in Badger history and losing superstars Robbie Earl and Joe Pavelski to the profession ranks. On the other hand, Boston College kept some of the most promising underclassmen in the country, with senior Brian Boyle and junior goalie Cory Schneider staying in school for another year. While head coach Mike Eaves doesn't promote his jealously, he realizes that Boston College coach Jerry York has had it a little easier than he has so far this season.
"I think it makes York's job a little easier, to be real honest," Eaves said. "Although I'm sure he's been in the boat, he's been in the boat long enough that he's had to deal with the other end. It's just part of the game now and you can't cry over spilled milk. You control what you can control."
While Boston College may look like the better team on paper, both teams match up evenly in many aspects. Both schools have strong defenses, like to push the tempo and have two of the best goalies in the country, with Wisconsin's Brian Elliott facing off against B.C.'s Schneider. Although Elliott numbers are far better than Schneider's this season (Elliott's has a 1.37 GAA and a save percentage of 94.9 percent compared to Schneider's 3.11 GAA and 88.8 save percentage), Boston College's Ben Ferriero isn't afraid to say who the Eagles think is best.
"He's the best goalie in the country - I'll say it right there," Ferriero said. "It's unbelievable having him behind you. We're obviously going to make some mistakes and it's a big lift when he's back there to make a big save for you after you screw up. That can change the momentum of the whole game and shift it in our favor."
With all the different intangibles going into the series, Eaves views this weekend as a great learning opportunity for his team to compete against one of the top ten teams in the nation.
"It's another excellent opportunity for our young team to grow," Eaves said. "We get to play against a quality team in our own barn and we get to take another step forward, another opportunity to improve as a group, take our lessons from last week and get right back in the fire and become a better team. Every game presents an opportunity, and the opportunity there is for us to become better with a young group."
This will be a special weekend for Eaves regardless of the outcome, as he has forged a special relationship with York. York is a coaching icon in the sport of college hockey, winning 751 games in his coaching career, most in Division I history, and two national championships. However, Eaves' bond with York stems from his two sons, Ben (2000-2004) and Patrick (2002-2005), playing for York and the Eagles.
Win or lose this weekend, Eaves is looking forward to spending some quality time with his good friend before the Eagles fly back east on Sunday.
"Jerry's greatest quality is the type of man he is, he's a tremendous man," Eaves said. "[He was] an important part of our kids' lives for six years, and so we have a friendship that we will nurture here this week. We have an opportunity to spend time with each other, and we have plans to get together after the game on Saturday."
What you need to know
Records: Boston College (2-1-0, 1-0-0 Hockey East) at Wisconsin (3-1-2, 2-1-1 WCHA)
Dates/Times: Friday-Saturday, Oct. 27-28 at 7 p.m. CT.
Location: Kohl Center (15,237), Madison, Wis.
Live TV: Friday and Saturday: FSN - Paul Braun/Tom Sagissor
Radio: Wisconsin Radio Network (Brian Posick/Bill Howard)
Polls (USCHO.com/CSTV and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine) UW, 2/2; BC, 5/5
Coaches: Wisconsin's Mike Eaves (5th year: 91-61-21) Boston College's Jerry York (13th year at BC: 284-158-41; 35th year: 751-493-75).
Series: UW leads 9-8-0 and trails 2-4-0 in Madison, Wis.
Last Meeting: vs. Boston College, W, 2-1 (4/8/06), Bradley Center, Milwaukee