The wait is over. Monday night at TD Garden, we will find out if No. 2 Boston College will win its fifth straight Beanpot Tournament title (a program record) or if No. 11 Northeastern will raise the trophy for the first time since 1988.
BC (21-4-3) is coming off a 6-1 victory over Merrimack (7-16-3) on Friday, while NU (16-9-3) dropped a 3-0 decision to UMass-Amherst (8-17-4).
Beating the Eagles will be a tall order. They haven’t lost a game in more than two months. Since putting together the line of junior left wing Johnny Gaudreau, senior center Bill Arnold, and senior right wing Kevin Hayes, the team has a record of 13-0-1 in its last 14 outings.
In that span, the trio has combined for 80 points, 32 of them goals, and a plus-67 rating. Gaudreau has at least a point in the last 23 contests. During the run, he has 48 points, 21 of them goals, with 14 multipoint performances and a plus-35 rating.
BC has more offensive weapons besides the top line but keeping them off the board will be a top priority for the Huskies, and one of the ways to do that is to stay out of the penalty box.
“They could be three of the top players in the country and they’re all together on one line,’’ said NU coach Jim Madigan, whose team is 2-2 in its last four with all decisions coming by shutout. “They’re smart, they’re skilled, and they play off each other.
“If you take penalties against them, because they have so much skill with those three and their second unit and defensemen, you’re just asking for trouble. Five on five, though, they still score a lot of goals.
“They can make things happen, they transition pucks really quickly, and in the neutral zone they counter really well so you really have to manage pucks against them.”
Benning steps up
One of the Northeastern players who earned a lot more ice time in the Beanpot semifinals against Harvard than he expected was freshman defenseman Matt Benning. When captain Josh Manson was whistled off for a five-minute major and game misconduct at 14:12 of the opening period, Madigan had to make adjustments on the back line. Benning said it wasn’t that difficult because everyone elevated their game.
“We all knew we needed to take a little bit more responsibility and more ice time,’’ said Benning. “I think the D corps did a great job. I think Monday night was probably the most I’ve played.’’
Benning’s grandfather was a scout for the Montreal Canadiens. His uncle, Jim Benning, is the assistant general manager of the Bruins and a former NHL player. His father, Brian, is a former NHL player and his uncle, Mark, played at Harvard and is a former All-American.
“My dad was my coach growing up,’’ said Benning, 19, who is a Bruins prospect. “He always helped me with the games and what to do to get noticed. I definitely think my grandfather and father helped me get to where I am.’’
They have pedigrees
Benning is one of three players on the Huskies’ roster whose father played in the NHL. In addition to Manson, whose father Dave Manson was a force on defense and played more than 1,000 games, freshman center John Stevens’s father, John, played 53 games in the NHL and is a current assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings and a former head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers . . . BC is the No. 1-ranked team in the country on offense, averaging 4.39 goals per game. The Eagles have the nation’s highest scoring margin (plus-2.25) and the best penalty killing with a 91.4 percent success rate . . . Gaudreau leads the nation in 4-point performances (3) and 3-point games (9) . . . The Huskies are in the Beanpot final for the second straight season. It is the fourth time NU has reached the championship game in consecutive seasons. Three of the Huskies’ four Beanpot titles have come when the team made it to the final the previous year . . . Boston University (8-15-4) will square off with Harvard (7-12-3) in the consolation game Monday afternoon.Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.