Boston University’s short-term memory should provide plenty of motivation for the Terriers when they meet Northeastern in the 66th Beanpot final on Monday.
BU (15-11-2) edged Harvard, 3-2, in double overtime in the semifinals Monday night, improving its unbeaten streak to eight games (7-0-1). But the Terriers were at a low point when they last met Northeastern, falling by scores of 4-1 and 6-1 in early November.
“Obviously, we didn’t do very well against them early in the season,” BU coach David Quinn said of the Huskies, who blanked Boston College, 3-0, on Monday. “I think we’re a lot different team than we were back then.”
Northeastern’s first line — Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, and Nolan Stevens — produced all three goals against BC. Gaudette, the NCAA scoring leader with 42 points, assisted on Stevens’s goal in the first period and Sikura’s in the second, then finished things off with his 20th goal of the season in the final period against the Eagles.
“Those guys are men, they play the game hard, they play it the right away,” Quinn said. “There’s more to that team than just that top line. They defend well. Great goalie [Cayden Primeau]. They’re one of the best teams in the country.
“We’ll certainly enjoy this tonight. Huge league game Friday night [vs. UMass], then start focusing on Northeastern after that. We know what the challenge is. We’re going to have to manage the puck, take away time and space, make sure we minimize. They’re going to get their chances. We just have to make sure they’re not the ‘oh my God’ variety.”
The No. 11 Huskies (16-7-5) last won the Beanpot in 1988, but they can also draw on revenge motives. NU had a chance for its fifth title in 2015, but dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to BU, following a controversial penalty.
“It’s really exciting to be heading back to the finals,” BU captain Brandon Hickey said. “Northeastern is a good crosstown rival, so the atmosphere — it’s going to be a lot of fun to be playing against a rival like them.”
Freshmen played decisive roles in both opening games Monday.
Before Primeau (37 saves) blanked BC, only one other freshman had shut out an opponent in a Beanpot semifinal — Rick DiPietro was in goal for BU in a 4-0 opening-round victory over Harvard in 2000.
“He’s been composed all year,” Sikura said of Primeau, who has made 20 successive starts since replacing Ryan Ruck in the second period of NU’s 4-1 win over BU on Nov. 4.
“It starts in practice, he’s our best goalie in practice. He works hard, takes care of himself, does all the right things off the ice and on ice. Obviously, first year, a lot of nerves. It’s pretty tense, but he stood in there and he’s been solid in there.”
In the nightcap, BU freshman Ty Amonte converted the deciding goal against Harvard at 1:55 of the second overtime, after Jake Oettinger (47 saves) kept the Terriers in contention.
“I was going to make a backhand saucer pass to Dante [Fabbro] but coach would’ve cut my head off,” Amonte said of the game-winner. “So, I just turned it up ice. And we’ve been talking a lot about beating guys down to the hashmarks and taking the puck wide. So, I just did that, just got the puck on net, because we’ve been trying to do that, and get lots of shots on goal. And it went in.”
Amonte’s drive from the right circle zipped just inside the near post, through Merrick Madsen (39 saves). It was a dramatic finish, recalling the play of his father, Tony, who recovered from injury to complete a second-period hat trick as BU took an 8-4 win over BC in the 1991 Beanpot final.
“If we’re going to be successful, we have to play with a pace, play physical,” Quinn said. “All the things you need to do in hockey, no matter what team you are. Our seniors won it as freshmen, now they have another chance to win it as seniors.”