Smith recalls many Frozen Four memories

CHICAGO -- Ben Smith helped deny Jonathan Toews a championship ring in college, but it's not something Smith lords over the Chicago Blackhawks captain.

"We've mentioned it a little bit in passing," Smith said with a smile on Wednesday, a day before this season's Frozen Four kicks off in Philadelphia.

Smith was a freshman at Boston College and Toews was a sophomore at North Dakota when the two teams met in the semifinals of the Frozen Four in 2007. Toews scored a goal, but it wasn't be enough to topple Smith and Eagles. Boston College won 6-4. Smith had a goal and an assist.

"We got the best of them, but it was a great game," Smith said. "It was fast and had a lot of good players who are still playing today in the NHL."

Smith's own championships hopes were dashed in the title game with a 3-1 loss to Michigan State. The Spartans were coached by Rick Comley, who now works for the Blackhawks hockey operations and scouting department.

Toews left for the NHL after his sophomore season, but Smith got a few more cracks at the national championship and he took advantage of them.

Boston College returned to the Frozen Four the following season. Smith had a goal and two assists in a 6-1 win over North Dakota in the semifinals and one goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over the Notre Dame in the national championship. He earned all-tournament honors.

Smith was back again as a senior and left his best for last. He had two goals and one assist in a 7-1 win over Miami in the semifinals and scored the game-winning goal in a 5-0 win over Wisconsin in the national championship. He was named the Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player.

Smith always felt those big stages took his game to another level.

"It's different," said Smith, who is the only current Blackhawk to win the Frozen Four. "In college, you're not playing in a huge building every game. For us to be able to play in an NHL arena in front of a lot of people, just a big, high-energy game on the line, single elimination, everything, there's a lot of pressure. It's just something I liked. I enjoyed it. Just playing in big games is always fun for me."

Smith added a Stanley Cup championship ring with the Blackhawks to his two NCAA championship rings last season. He hopes he's not finished winning rings.

"Maybe someday I'll have a little collection somewhere with the two [NCAA] championship rings and at least one, hopefully a couple more Stanley Cup rings," Smith said.

Smith planned to watch Boston College in the Frozen Four on Thursday. The Golden Eagles play Union in the semifinals at 4 p.m. The winner plays either North Dakota or Minnesota for the championship on Saturday.

Five Blackhawks prospects will be participating in the Frozen Four. Kevin Hayes and Chris Calnan play for Boston College, Justin Holl for Minnesota and Luke Johnson and Nick Mattson for North Dakota.

"I love watching it," Smith said. "I'm excited to watch the alma mater play. It brings back a lot of good memories. We had a lot of good teams. We were fortunate to get there three times in four years. I'm excited to see how they do.

"They've had a good run. Seven of the last 10 years they've been in the Frozen Four. Coach [Jerry] York has a good thing going there. He's able to recruit and reload every year it seems like. Nice to be a part of that."