Skating out with a purpose during the starting introductions, led by the first player announced, senior captain and newly coronated Hobey Baker champion Blake Geoffrion, who left a perfect banana-curved groove in his wake as he moved from the goal line to the right of the net to the very center of the blue line.
Each starter raced out to the blue line at full speed and with each respective stop rained an arcing plume of shaved ice in the direction of their Boston College counterparts, almost as if to say, "here we are boys, come and get us."
Then the entire team trailed in perfect formation and with equal velocity like a special teams unit behind their kicker following goaltender Scott Gudmandson, the last starter to be introduced and the one part of the team that many have labeled as its weakest link, as if to tell him, "we have your back."
Well, the Eagles did come and get the Badgers, as the 5-0 final score, only the second shutout in a championship final since 1972, was the clear indicator.
"We noticed," said senior assistant captain Ben Smith with a wry smile of the message the Badgers tried to send them. "But it's just the starting lineups and you can't win the game in starting lineups. It takes a full 60-minute effort. I think we showed that we can play at a high level for 60 minutes and that's what led to our success."
The only time the Badgers had the advantage was in the first four minutes, during which they received the first of only two meaningful power plays with the latter chance lasting only 1:05 because the call came while the Eagles were already a man up. Their third and final man advantage came late when the game was all but over.
They looked strong on that first opportunity though despite not scoring, with solid chances for Craig Smith from the left circle and a backhand rebound opportunity for Ben Street, the only current Badger who was part of the 2006 title team.
"They did a good job not putting themselves in position to take penalties," said Eaves. "If you're going to draw penalties, one of the things you can do is move your feet and make them pull you down. They did a pretty good job of avoiding that and that was the biggest thing."
And the Badgers did not have Gudmandson's back, as they were never able to erase a 1-0 lead that BC picked up on the power play midway through the first period. BC then took off in the third after scoring a soft one through the five-hole just over a minute and a half in.
Eaves never chose to use his timeout. "With the TV timeouts, you can rally your troops and you know if you get something going and you get down to the last minute, maybe you want to save that puppy. Mark (Osiecki) and I talked about it on the bench and decided let's hold on to it."
Geoffrion Shows Wisdom, Leadership
Shortly after claiming the Hobey last night, Geoffrion admitted he does not expect everything to turn up roses for he and his teammates all the time. In doing so, he may have foreshadowed tonight's outcome.
"I think a little bit of both, luck and hard work and the supporting cast around me," the Tennessee native said when asked if he ever feels like bad luck is bound to come his way after everything has worked out so well since his decision to return to Wisconsin for his senior season, or whether all his success was a product of hard work.
"I have always lived by saying that adversity makes you stronger and I know that us as a team this year and me in my life have gone through a lot of adversity and it only makes you stronger. So I'm sure that there's some adversity coming at us, so whether that's tomorrow in the first period or later in my life, I'm pretty much ready for every challenge."
Outside the locker room after tonight's loss, Geoffrion seemed to show the truth in his words as he refused to let the loss get the best of him. Though clearly showing signs of having shed a tear with his "boys" after the game, he returned from visiting with friends and family and approached Coach Eaves with a smile on his face, making a humorous comment about a text message he had received. He then turned to classmate Michael Davies, slightly more distraught, and told him to get some food.
Davies replied he couldn't eat.
The senior from St. Louis, overlooked for the Hobey only as a result of playing on the same team as Geoffrion and Brendan Smith, might have been taking things a little harder because he did not perform up to expectations this weekend, appearing on the scoresheet only with the fifth goal against RIT, when that game was already well in hand.
He also had the best chance to tie the game when he took a pretty feed through the skates of two BC players from Jake Gardiner to set up a breakaway. But after settling the puck down by batting it down out of the air, he inexplicably lost control of it in the high slot and never got off a shot. Then again, no one scored tonight for the Badgers, which is something that can never be pinned on just one man.
Worst Frozen Four ever, question mark? Uh, exclamation point!
It was the most one-sided and anti-climactic Frozen Four of all time, hands down and without question. Along with being only the fourth shutout ever in the title game, the combined score of the three games was 20-2 for the victors. Never before has the entire event been so one-sided. And hopefully it will never be again.
And that is only talking about the games themselves. The venue is another story.