Trophy Season is upon us!
A scoreless first period gave way to wild, thrilling hockey as the Boston College Eagles downed Northeastern 6-3 to win the Beanpot.
Lots to get to, so let's get right to it.
So many pretty, pretty goals for BC. Bill Arnold finally broke the scoreless tie halfway through the second period with one of them after skating in with Kevin Hayes. A give and go and a wide open one timer later, the Eagles were up 1-0.
Just 1:15 later, some of John Gaudreau's gritty play finally paid off on the scoresheet. Johnny Hockey stuffed a puck into Rawling's pads and stuck with it until his second effort pushed the puck over the line to give BC the quick 2-0 lead.
Northeastern's Kevin Roy did everything he could to take over the game for the Huskies like he did last week against Boston University. The freshman forward responded for Northeastern with a goal of his own with just under 5 minutes remaining in the second period to cut the lead to 2-1.
The things started to get crazy.
Earlier in the game, Northeastern skated for several seconds with 7 players on the ice -- not your garden variety they-touched-the-puck-while-on-a-line-change Too Many Men situation, they were actively playing hockey with 6 skaters and a goalie -- without the referees noticing. After play finally stopped at a whistle, the BC bench furiously called for a penalty on the Huskies, but after a discussion nothing was given.
Fast forward to the end of the second period. Incredibly, Northeastern again had 6 skaters and a goaltender, but this time, the crime was far more egregious. Northeastern, skating 5 skaters completely into their own defensive zone, threw the puck out to a streaking Kevin Roy who sneaked a full neutral zone behind the BC defense because they assumed all Huskies were accounted for.
Not so. Roy skated in on Milner who robbed the freshman on the breakaway. The referees apparently didn't notice. NESN's Andy Brickley was beside himself, calling it "street hockey" and giving out an astonished "you can't do that!" upon watching the replay.
One has to wonder what exactly would have happened if Roy had actually scored the goal. Would the referees have "noticed" and waved off the goal? Which 5 skaters would have been given a +1 rating for being on the ice for a goal?
I've seen quite a bit of hockey, and I rarely get too upset at referees for missing a slash here or a trip there, because I Get It, but how on God's green earth do you miss a sixth skater going in on a breakaway two lines behind the nearly BC defenseman? I've never seen anything like it.
The Eagles responded with the sports equivalent of a Crotch Chop to the Hockey East referees. Shortly after the blown call and Milner's miraculous save, Isaac MacLeod threw a puck at the net that was tipped downward by Patrick Brown. The puck dribbled in on Chris Rawlings, took a nasty hop, and trickled just an inch over the goal line to reclaim a two goal lead for BC.
But the Eagles still weren't done in the 2nd frame. Chris Rawlings had himself a moment with just seconds remaining in the frame. The Northeastern goaltender collected the puck and then inexplicably slid it across the crease to a waiting Bill Arnold, who threw the puck back across to a Steve Whitney who ripped home a one-timer with just 0.4 seconds remaining.
Unfortunately, the planned third-period victory lap was not to be. That God Damn Kevin Roy Kid put the Huskies right back into striking distance just 11 seconds into the third on a nice shot from outside the left faceoff circle. It capped a string of 5 consecutive goals Roy scored for Northeastern.
An ill-timed penalty on BC a couple minutes later really got the hearts beating. Puckstar Vinny Saponari threw a puck in on Milner on the power play the deflected off Braden Pimm to once again cut the BC lead to just a single goal at 4-3.
It took over 10 game minutes later, but BC would finally put the game away on an absolutely brilliant dual effort on the part of Mike Matheson and Johnny Gaudreau.
Steve Whitney skated deep into the Northeastern zone with the puck as the Eagles completed a line change. Whit spun around the whipped the puck back to a charging Matheson who dangled through two Husky defenseman and backhanded a feed across the crease to Gaudreau, rushing in off the line change, who finished the fine play by popping the puck straight up into the roof of the goal and giving BC the much more comfortable two goal lead.
An empty netter by Pat Mullane finished off the scoring and the game would end 6-3 for Boston College.
Such a thrilling game. A bit more ulcer-inducing than I think anyone really planned on there in the third period, but BC was able to hang on.
Nothing but respect for Northeastern's Kevin Roy. The freshman took home Beanpot MVP honors in a losing effort, something that hasn't happened since 2004. Roy scored 5 of NU's 6 goals in the tournament, including the only three goals in a 3-2 victory over Boston University last week and single-handedly giving BC fans a heart-attack every time he touched the puck.
Michael Matheson had himself the best game of his entire career. It is indescribable how much of a difference he makes to the BC offense when he's back on the blue line. Matheson joined the rush a number of times and dangled through Northeastern defensemen several times, creating plays where normally there would be none. I can't remember BC having a defenseman as offensively gifted as he is.
Gaudreau finally seems to be shaking his bad luck. His two goals were polar opposites of each other, the first being a greasy goal where he kept at a puck sitting in the crease, and the second being a finesse job finishing off Matheson's brilliant stick work.
Those dirty goals can do wonders for your confidence. Gaudreau doesn't need to be jumping out on breakaways to help this team. He just needs to use his skills as waterbug to get into the right places to feed goalscorers or sneak into goalscoring areas on his own.
Johnny's 2 goals and an assist keep him atop the national scoring rankings in points per game, and 7th overall (with only 23 games played [!]).
Also worth noting is that BC scored *six goals* in the final two minutes of periods during the Beanpot. Six! Talk about finishing strong.
BC now looks ahead to Friday's game at Merrimack. The Warriors are suddenly in 2nd in the conference standings just one point back of the Eagles. What? BC can't afford a Beanpot hangover and absolutely must use the win as a springboard to a big winning streak -- just as we do every year.
And no, not one mention of BU in this article. We don't talk about last place finishers in the same article that we celebrate the Beanpot Champions.