Welcome to the Beanpot 2020, where controversy, craziness, and cacophony all came together, swirled around in a storm of hockey madness, and ultimately spit out a Northeastern team in possession of its third straight title.
Welcome to a game-winning goal on a power play awarded on a questionable tripping penalty, a double-overtime ending that somehow seemed fitting, adding to the intensity of the game while underscoring the drama as well, leaving a sold-out building all but wrung out and exhausted.
Sports. Still the best reality show we have. And this one delivered from the opening puck drop.
It was Jordan Harris who put the final capper on the crazy night, his goal from just inside the blue line at 14:33 of the second OT whizzing past previously impenetrable BU substitute goalie Sam Tucker for a 5-4 win and another Huskies title. But it was the power play that gave Harris the one-man advantage that left BU players and coaches seething, the sight of BU forward Trevor Zegras getting held back as he roared at officials on the ice after the loss as indelible as any we saw all night.
“What did you think? What did you think about it? I’m not supposed to comment on officials,” BU coach Albie O’Connell said afterward. “The one thing I will say, the diving in that game that was called? Unreal. Unreal. Karma didn’t catch up to that one. It will.”
See? It was a night to remind you of the passion of sports, where victorious senior captain Ryan Shea walked in holding the pot itself, only half-joking they should just give it to him for good after winning three years in a row. He’d just won inside a building that practically pulsed with pent-up energy, from the competing creativity of insulting chants raining from the rival student sections to the collection of penalty minutes being amassed on the ice, a reminder that the Beanpot, while officially a hockey tournament featuring four area teams, is so much more.
It’s passion and bragging rights and intensity and daring; it’s skill and puck luck and celebrations and tears. It’s a uniquely Boston event with a long and storied history, years of competition that seem to fuel each ensuing contest with the simmering energy of those that came before. Production values may be slicker than ever and the ice may be more pristine than years ago, but the heart of this four-team clash is the same, handed down from graduating class to graduating class, through generations of players and fans alike, the fight for bragging rights among alumni still fierce enough to bring a Beanpot record 17,850 to TD Garden Monday night.
Forget contempt, this sort of familiarity breeds madness.
And madness we got. Madness in the form of Zegras, the Boston University freshman who scored a heart-stopping goal with 1.2 seconds left in regulation, on a furious scramble for the puck that he managed to poke from the left side of the crease past goaltender Craig Pantano’s pads, a 6-on-5 magic trip to send the Beanpot into its first overtime. First for five minutes, then for another period, this new lease on hockey life reviving a crowd that only seconds before believed it was heading home empty handed.
Madness across a first period when it seemed BU was going to sail to its first Beanpot title since 2015, when it exploded out of the gate with a 2-0 lead, the first coming just 2:49 in when sophomore forward Jake Wise deflected his own shot out of Pantano’s glove and into the net. Five minutes later, it was Zegras doubling the lead, his ninth goal of the season coming on a scorching wrister from just inside the left blue line, a long-range shot that would spin through human traffic and sail, just under the crossbar, into the upper right corner.
But if the Terriers were snarling from the outset, it was the Huskies who came back fighting in the second period, starting with (who else?) Hobey Baker nominee Tyler Madden. After winning a faceoff, Madden took a return pass from Aidan McDonough, and with 2:53 gone in the period, cut the deficit in half. Now it was a game. The energy in the building shifted, the scales of confidence moving back toward equilibrium, and the Terriers felt it. At 5:51, it was McDonough’s turn for glory, taking a beautiful pass from Ryan Shea and scoring on the point-blank shot to tie the game.
With BU rattled, the Huskies kept the pressure on, and after a series of costly BU penalties that gave Northeastern a 5-on-3 advantage, the lead came on Zach Solow’s power-play shot from between the circles, a goal at 9:42 that upped the score to 3-2. It appeared Solow scored again only minutes later, but reviews showed the puck never crossed the line despite bouncing off the left pipe. Grant Jozefek picked up the slack, however, pushing the lead to 4-2 at 11:23, with a mere four seconds remaining in the power play.
Four goals in under 12 minutes, that could have been six including the Solow near-miss and a shot by Madden that Robert Mastrosimone literally knocked out of midair with his stick . A barrage that sent freshman goaltender Ashton Abel to the bench, four goals on seven second-period shots enough to convince O’Connell to pull him in favor of graduate senior transfer Tucker.
And what a show Tucker would put on.
All across the final minutes of the second period, the entirety of the third, and well into extra time, Tucker stuffed the Huskies over and over. Nine saves in the third period alone that allowed BU to pull even, first on David Farrance’s power play conversion at 1:56 and finally, on Zegras’s daring, nervy score with just over a second to play.
Over and over, Tucker stood on his head, until he couldn’t, against an extra man and a questionable call.
What a night.