How best to cool off the country's hottest college hockey team? If you're Boston University facing Northeastern on Monday night, two things: Never let the Huskies get started, and schedule them in the Beanpot.
The Terriers made two first-period goals hold up in the second game of the opening night at the 64th Beanpot, and with senior Sean Maguire making 24 sparkling saves, advanced to the final with a 3-1 victory over Northeastern.
A 3-2 win over Harvard in the first game sent Boston College to the Beanpot final. The Eagles and BU will meet in the title game for the 21st time on Monday night at TD Garden, with Harvard and Northeastern squaring off in the consolation.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play them in the finals," BU senior Danny O'Regan said of facing BC. "It's kind of how you draw it up."
BU already owns 30 Beanpot titles, the most among the four participants, but the Terriers have lost to BC in this event the past five times they've met, including the 2012 final.
The most recent of BU's 30 Beanpots came a year ago, when the Terriers needed overtime to beat Northeastern.
That made Monday a rematch, with an interesting twist. For the first time in college hockey poll history, three Beanpot teams came in ranked among the country's top 10.
The exception? Northeastern, which was riding a nation-best six-game win streak, an eight-game unbeaten streak, and hadn't surrendered more than two goals since a 3-3 tie on Jan. 2 against Quinnipiac.
BU (15-7-4) bagged two in a 3½-minute stretch of the first period, with junior Robbie Baillargeon and freshman Charlie McAvoy finding the net. Baillargeon's opening goal came after Ryan Cloonan kept the puck in the NU zone, then passed to fellow freshman Bobo Carpenter, who flicked a shot on net. Carpenter's shot was deflected, though, and Baillargeon was waiting for it on the left doorstep, poking in the flying puck, a goal that was upheld on video review with 6:46 remaining in the first period.
The Terriers doubled their lead at 16:40, on a wrister from McAvoy, who came in from the right side and launched his shot from just outside the circle. He beat Ryan Ruck high on the stick side for just his second goal of the season, assisted by O'Regan and Oskar Andren.
Maguire did the rest. A senior who sat out the entire 2014-15 season with an injury, he was making his third appearance in a Beanpot game. The first two didn't go well: Six goals allowed in a 7-4 consolation loss as a freshman in 2013, and four goals allowed in a 6-2 consolation loss in 2014. Both were against Harvard.
"Both times I played in the consolation game, we didn't play very well as a team," Maguire said. "Making that jump to the semifinal game was something I was really happy to be able to play in, and especially winning it.
"I had nothing to prove, really. I just wanted to go out there and play my best, put on a show for our fans."
BU has been splitting time in goal this year, with Maguire now appearing in 14 games, the same number as sophomore Connor LaCouvee. But Maguire has started the past eight games, and figures to get the start against BC.
Northeastern (9-13-4) was finally able to slip the puck past Maguire with 3:12 left in the third period. A shot by Matt Benning was initially stopped, but John Stevens poked in the rebound for his eighth goal of the season, giving the Terriers a chance. They pulled Ruck with 90 seconds remaining, but an empty-net goal from Doyle Somerby — who was a few feet in front of Maguire when he shot the puck — sealed it.
"I thought we had good effort, we just didn't have that second gear to our game that allowed us to jump on the loose pucks in front of their goalie. We didn't have that energy that you need in this game," said NU coach Jim Madigan. "BU's a tough team to play. They play with pace, and they had more pace than we did tonight."
Ruck helped keep the score 2-0 with a pair of highlight saves in a scoreless second period. He denied a breakaway bid by Jordan Greenway, who ended up with the puck upon exiting the penalty box, where he sat two minutes for holding.
Later in the period, with the Huskies trying to kill another penalty (Adam Gaudette, hooking), Rusk gloved a one-timer by Matt Lane.
Ruck made 31 saves. But on this night, Maguire and the Terriers were just a little better, and they, not Northeastern, will be playing for the title.
The Huskies saw a three-year run of advancing to the championship game come to an end.
BU will be playing its third game of the season against BC. The Terriers have yet to win, going 0-1-1 so far. The next one will be the biggest.
"We're going to have to play a lot better than we did against them three weeks ago if we want to have a chance," said BU coach Dave Quinn. "They've got a great program, they've had a lot of success. I'm not surprised. But there's really not a connection between those five [Beanpot losses to BC since 2008] and the one we're going to play next Monday."