A national championship is the goal of every team and every player at every level of college athletics. Whether in an individual sport or as a team, a national championship ensures that if for only one season a team or athlete can lay claim to the title of being the best at what they do.
This is the legacy that the Boston College Eagles and 2006 Brainerd High School graduate Carl Sneep earned April 12 with a dominating run through the Frozen Four to capture the Division I men's hockey national championship.
"You really can't describe it," Sneep said in a recent phone interview, "It's a great feeling. We know that we are the best team, the best group of people at what we do in the nation.
"This team has really been made up of a special group of guys. I have never been on a team that has been so close. By winning a championship your team is never really forgotten and your season never really ends."
Carl Sneep capped his sophomore year at Boston College with a national title.
Yet, as with most seasons, whether of the national championship variety or not, Boston College was put through the trials and tribulations of adversity that often serve to define or undermine a team's success.
"The second game of the year we had two players kicked off the team, both of whom were defensive players, which left us with only six for the rest of the season," Sneep said. "Also, one of our best players, Brock Bradford, broke his arm in the second game, came back in the middle of the season and broke it again.
"There was also a pretty good freshman who left in the middle of the year to play juniors. So we were really undermanned for most of the season."
The Eagles overcame misfortune to earn a berth in the Frozen Four and a matchup against UND, whom they had tied 0-0 earlier in the regular season in a game ended due to foggy conditions.
In the Frozen Four semifinals the Eagles dismantled the Sioux, jumping out to a 6-0 lead after two periods before winning 6-1.
"That was one of the best games we played the entire year," Sneep said, "The win gave us a ton of confidence going into the championship game. We knew if we played the same game as we did against UND there was no way Notre Dame could beat us."
That sentiment proved to be true. The Eagles carried the momentum of their semifinal victory into the championship game and dispatched the Irish 4-1 to take home the school's third national hockey championship, their first since 2001, despite playing in their third consecutive national championship game.
This experience was key in preparing and motivating the Eagles in their tournament run.
"Personally, I know I was much less nervous and more relaxed after being here last year," Sneep said, " I am not sure if we talked about it a whole lot but it made us more determined to not come back empty handed. Having that experience really helped a lot in playing and winning in the title game."
Sneep was not on the ice for a majority of the victory. He suffered a high ankle sprain after being hit by a puck late in the first period.
"My initial reaction was I would be back in the next period," he said. "Once we got my skate off and (the trainers) were looking at it, it became pretty obvious that I was done for the game."
Despite the injury Sneep never lost faith in his team's defensive resolve.
"Obviously, I really wanted to get back in there but at that point you have to do what you can motivating and encouraging the other guys," he said. "With only five defensemen we had a couple of guys who played more than 30 minutes. They just did an awesome job and were playing off adrenaline for most of the game."
With only four graduating seniors, and the prospect of keeping Frozen Four MVP Nathan Gerbe, the Eagles look to repeat as national champions next season.
"We want to repeat and I think we could do it," Sneep said. "If Gerbe returns, and with only four seniors graduating, I would think we will be one of the top teams in the nation next year, if not the favorite (to win the championship).
"But, as for this season, it was really a rollercoaster ride with all the ups and downs we went through as a team. All that did was bring us together and rally as a team. We played our best hockey when we needed to and accomplished all our goals. You just can't ask for anything more than that."
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