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Tommy Cross: 2-Time NCAA Champ Seeks Continued Success with Boston Bruins

Al DanielCorrespondent IIApril 8, 2012

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 07:  Defenseman Tommy Cross #4 of the Boston College Eagles holds up the championship trophy after defeating the Ferris State Bulldogs during the NCAA Division 1 Men's Hockey Championship Game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on April 7, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

On the night the Boston Bruins learned that the Washington Capitals will be their first of up to four obstacles to a second straight Stanley Cup, one of their longest-incubating prospects savored a second title of his own.

Senior captain Tommy Cross and the Boston College Eagles garnered their second NCAA laurel in three years Saturday night with a 4-1 repression of Ferris State at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Cross, going on five years since his second-round selection in the NHL draft, finished the Frozen Four weekend with six blocked shots, a cumulative plus-three rating and an assist.

In all, the 22-year-old blueliner has accumulated 134 career games with BC, racking up three Beanpot titles, three Hockey East pennants and two national titles. His team went 8-1 in NCAA tournament games over his four-year career.

“I can’t say enough about Boston College, the environment you get to develop in as a hockey player, a student and a person,” Cross said in Saturday’s postgame press conference.

“For the hockey part, with the coaching that you get and the players you get to practice against, it’s a great place to hone your skills and try to get to the next level.

“I’m a completely different player now than when I first got here and it’s a credit to the coaching staff and my teammates.”

Cross committed to BC in 2007 at a time when the program was on the heels of losing back-to-back national title games. He was subsequently drafted 35th overall by a Bruins franchise that was in the midst of bringing on a new coaching staff with Claude Julien, hoping to build itself back to relevance.

COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 23:  35th overall draft pick Tommy Cross of the Boston Bruins poses for a portrait during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 23, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Cross had his own sort of recovery project occurring concomitantly. He had sustained a knee injury that hampered the close of his high school career.

After taking a detour to the United States League in 2007-08, Cross enrolled at BC when the team was gearing up to defend its long-awaited title. But injuries limited his season to 24 out of 37 games while the Eagles missed out on the NCAA tournament altogether.

Cross missed four games as a sophomore, but was in action for the 2010 Frozen Four triumph, and sat out four as a junior.

But in his final campaign with the “C” over his heart, he managed to dress for all 44 games and tally a career-high 19 assists and 24 points. That achievement was not lost on Eagles head coach Jerry York.

“He’s going to have an incredible career with the Boston Bruins if his knees can stay relatively healthy,” York said of Cross. “That’s going to be a test for him. We have time off during the year for (him to rest) his knees.

“We’re very fortunate that he never missed a game (this season)."

If the worst of his health history is behind him and if the clouds of adversity have given way to triumph, Cross could have a smoother transition into the Bruins’ system. Despite the lengthy development period, which has been as long as underachieving winger Zach Hamill’s, he is the third-ranked blueliner among Boston prospects behind Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.

And naturally, he has had a unique degree of first-hand exposure to the local club, having studied and skated in the same area code and played handfuls of Beanpot and Hockey East games at TD Garden.

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 05:  Defenseman Tommy Cross #4 of the Boston College Eagles holds up the championship trophy after defeating the Ferris State Bulldogs during the NCAA Division 1 Men's Hockey Championship Game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on April 7, 201
J. Meric/Getty Images

“Yeah, a little bit,” Cross said when asked if it helped to keep closer tabs on the Bruins by attending a Boston school.

“I’m not really sure. I watch all the NHL teams, I just like watching hockey. (When you live in the area), you get to read the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, all the different articles about the Bruins. I’m not sure that’s a huge thing, though. I’ve been worrying about going after the big trophy (with BC).”

He got that on Saturday, which only enhances a winning pedigree the Bruins are unlikely to overlook so easily. That is especially not with their own string of long-awaited success in their five years and counting under Julien.

With three regular-season games still to come for the Bruins’ top farm team in Providence, it is not far-fetched to speculate Cross will make his professional debut next weekend. Afterwards, he will be a candidate to start off as an AHL anchor and aspiring as-needed stand-in for the parent club.

Quotes for this story were obtained firsthand in the postgame press conference

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