Frozen Four appearance caps big year for Petrecki

It’s been a whirlwind year for Boston College freshman defenseman and Clifton Park native Nick Petre

It’s been a whirlwind year for Boston College freshman defenseman and Clifton Park native Nick Petrecki.

It started last June, when Petrecki was selected in the first round of the NHL draft by the San Jose Sharks. Then, he began his college career in October, and it took some time to adjust.

In February, he became a Beanpot tournament hero when he scored the championship game-winning goal in overtime against Harvard.

Now, Petrecki is on college hockey’s biggest stage — the

Frozen Four.

He and the Eagles (23-11-8) face North Dakota (28-10-4) in the first semifinal Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Pepsi Center in Denver. BC reached its third straight — and 28th overall — Frozen Four by winning the Northeast Regional. The Eagles have won seven straight games.

“I’m definitely very excited,” Petrecki said. “[Getting to the Frozen Four] is something I’ve put down on a list of goals that I wanted to reach on my hockey resume. To be able to go to this with the great group of guys that we have in my freshman season is obviously very special. I can’t wait to get there.”

The winner of the BC-North Dakota semifinal will meet the winner of the other semifinal, between Michigan and Notre Dame, in Saturday’s title game at 7 p.m.

Petrecki gave BC it’s first Beanpot title since 2004. Besides scoring the game-winner, he scored his first collegiate goal earlier in the contest.

That win should have sent the Eagles flying into the final month of their Hockey East schedule. Instead, they nearly crashed.

BC went 1-5-1 over its next six games. The slump included a five-game winless streak (0-4-1), and it looked like the Eagles would be on the road for the Hockey East tournament quarterfinals. But a 4-1 win at Northeastern in the last regular-season game secured fourth place and the final home-ice berth.

Petrecki pointed to three factors as to why BC struggled after the Beanpot.

“The offense wasn’t producing, the defense was not playing any defense and our goalie [John Muse] was in a bit of a slump, but definitely kept us in about 95 [percent] of the minutes in those games,” Petrecki said. “The whole team was in a mid-season slump. We stayed with it, finished in fourth place and won the last regular-season game, which got us in fourth place.”

The Eagles haven’t lost since. They swept Providence in the best-of-three quarterfinals, then beat New Hampshire, 5-4, in triple overtime in the semifinals, rallying from a 4-1 deficit, and downed Vermont, 4-0, to win the tournament.

The Eagles defeated Minnesota, 5-2, in the Northeast Regional semifinal. They found themselves down, 2-0, to Miami (Ohio) midway through the second period in the regional final.

But Petecki ignited a three-goal rally, scoring his fifth goal of the season with 3:12 left in the second. Nathan Gerbe and Ben Smith scored in the next 1:58 to give BC the lead.

Miami’s Ryan Jones tied it midway through the third. but Joe Whitney scored at 12:12 of overtime to put BC in the Frozen Four.

“We’ve had our ups and downs this year, and we’ve definitely been on the losing end,” said Petrecki, who was named to the regional all-tournament team. “We definitely know how to play from behind. We’ve played from behind in so many games this year. Knowing we could come back in that game, just the way we came back in the Beanpot versus BU [Boston University] and Harvard, and in the UNH game, there’s no sense of panic.”

Petrecki will have plenty of support in Denver. His parents, sister, cousin and the people he lived with in Omaha, Neb., when he played in the U.S. Hockey League, will be there.

“Being able to play in the Beanpot, being able to play in the Hockey East championship and to be able to suit up for the Boston College Eagles hockey team with such a rich tradition is just great,” Petrecki said. “To make it to the Frozen Four my freshman year is obviously more than I can ask for.”

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