Boston College’s goal was very direct — to capture four straight championships and amass an 8-0 Beanpot tournament record for its seniors for the first time in school history. Northeastern was seeking a more modest, albeit important, goal in gunning for its first title since 1988.
Sometimes — OK, often — it helps to have been there before, and the Eagles parlayed their poise, experience, and talent to prevail at TD Garden with a 6-3 victory Monday night.
“I’m so incredibly proud of our club, specifically our senior class and our captains who are in the senior class, and what they’ve done over their careers,’’ said BC coach Jerry York, who led the team to the 18th Beanpot title in school history. “They really are model citizens for Boston College hockey.’’
BC scored four goals in the second period and added two in the third, but it seemed closer than a three-goal margin because of the Huskies’ resolve.
“I thought our team played well, but we had to,’’ said York, whose team improved to 17-7-2. “You have to throw out records because sometimes you look at records and say, ‘What type of team is that?’ Northeastern has a darn good team right now.’’
For the first half of the game, it looked as if no one would score. There were opportunities, sure, there were a couple of posts hit (by BC), but for much of the opening 30 minutes, it was tough sledding and resembled the story of Br’er Rabbit with neutral ice playing the role of the briar patch.
The offensive floodgates opened at 10:53, a little more than a minute after BC captain Pat Mullane redirected the puck off the middle of the crossbar.
Junior center Bill Arnold took a pass from junior left wing Kevin Hayes and beat senior goaltender Chris Rawlings (24 saves) from deep in the right circle. The play started when BC freshman defenseman Michael Matheson intercepted a pass attempt by senior pivot Garrett Vermeersch in the neutral zone.
BC took a 2-0 lead 1 minute, 15 seconds later when sophomore left wing Johnny Gaudreau kept after the puck in the crease. Gaudreau had the puck outside the right post and kept trying to jam it past Rawlings. He skated into the middle of the crease and whacked at it again. It got under the goalie and headed for the goal line. As it did, sophomore right wing Danny Linell charged in from the left side and took a whack at it. It had made it over the line and Gaudreau was credited with the score at 12:08.
NU cut the deficit in half at 15:04 when freshman phenom Kevin Roy beat senior netminder Parker Milner on a wrist shot from the left circle.
BC received a tremendous boost from its goaltender when Milner made a fantastic save on Roy at 16:50.
Senior left wing Robbie Vrolyk fired a long lead pass up the ice to spring Roy. He charged down the slot, switched to his backhand, and tried to beat Milner from just outside the right post, but Milner snared it with his glove.
Less than two minutes later, the Eagles boosted the lead to 3-1. Junior defenseman Isaac MacLeod sent the puck toward the net from the left point. The puck knuckled on its way forward and junior center Patrick Brown put his stick on it in front and redirected it past Rawlings at 18:37.
With only one second remaining in the frame, senior right wing Steven Whitney got his own rebound and beat Rawlings to give the Eagles a 4-1 lead. Whitney’s first try hit NU freshman defenseman Colton Saucerman and bounced right back to Whitney, who buried his second bid to send BC into the final period with a three-goal lead.
The Huskies made it very interesting in the third period with Roy playing one-man rescue squad after having scored all three of NU’s goals in last Monday’s victory over Boston University.
He scored his fifth goal of the tournament on the way to winning most outstanding player honors just 11 seconds in when he beat Milner on a high wrister from the top of the left circle that beat the goaltender to the stick side.
NU pulled to within one at 4-3 during a power play. Vinny Saponari, positioned at the left point, threw the puck down and junior center Braden Pimm redirected it past Milner at 3:56.
At 14:37, Gaudreau potted his second of the night when he took a pass from Matheson and beat Rawlings from the slot. Whitney made the play happen by holding on to the puck along the left-wing boards and patiently found Matheson coming down the right side.
“Mikey made a great play,’’ said Whitney. “I kind of just waited for him. He came over the blue line and I gave it to him and I think he stickhandled through about three guys to find Johnny back door. I kind of just stood off the the side and watched.’’
BC closed it out with 1:28 left when Mullane scored an empty-netter, capping the seniors’ perfect Beanpot record.
For the Huskies, it was a valiant effort and something they can build on for the rest of the season as they hunt for a playoff spot.
“I liked obviously the way we battled in the third period,’’ said second-year coach Jim Madigan, whose team is 8-14-3 overall. “For me, the story for our team was how we battled in the third period when that puck dropped. Our guys, they just went all out. I said to our seniors I’m proud of the way they played and how hard they worked. I felt sorry for them that they didn’t get the opportunity to win a Beanpot championship.’’