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8 Things We Learned From Day One Of The 2016 Beanpot

Observations on the first night of competition at TD Garden

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The first night of the 2016 Beanpot is in the books. For the first time since 2012, we'll have a BC vs. BU final, and for the 24th consecutive season, one of those two teams will lift the trophy. Here's what we learned on night one:

  • BC is capable of playing lock down defense against a very good attacking team: In the first period, after BC came out firing, Harvard dominated most of the play 5 on 5. Jimmy Vesey & company were feasting on numerous BC turnovers en route to a 2-1 lead, and BC looked to be behind the eight ball. After a pair of power play goals turned the game around, BC proceeded to play a conservative, safe, defensive game, slowing down the high-flying Harvard offense and successfully defending their lead for nearly 30 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of the game, BC kept successfully doing two things over and over again: breaking up Harvard's attempts to enter the zone, and skating the puck to the red line and getting it in deep when they had the puck.

    In the game's final two minutes, Harvard pulled the goalie with about 1:40 to go. BC was able to get the puck out of the zone and force a faceoff in the attacking end after Harvard played the puck with a high stick. From that point forward BC kept the puck in deep for over a minute, not letting the Crimson get their goalie out until there were about 15 seconds remaining.

    It was a tremendous, balanced defensive performance from a team that's known mostly for its offense.
  • BC's special teams are a force to reckon with: BC went 2-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill (against the Beanpot's best power play, no less) en route to their 3-2 win. BC's two power play goals came over a 4:24 span in the second period and turned the game on its head after Harvard was in control 5 on 5 for the most part. Jerry York praised adjustments Greg Brown made to his power play unit, emphasizing quick, rapid-fire puck movement and discouraging too much stickhandling.

    The penalty kill has been consistently excellent all season long and had one of its best and most important kills Monday night in the third period after Austin Cangelosi went off for slashing at 13:01. The Eagles kept the puck out of the zone for the majority of Harvard's power play and didn't allow the Crimson any quality opportunities. The PK helped fuel BC's third period defensive effort.
  • Tuch, Sanford and Doherty can control play using their size and strength: BC's refurbished "second line" (call it whatever you want with those top three) of Alex Tuch, Zach Sanford and Teddy Doherty use strength, size and guile to beat opponents. In the third period, this unit was crucial as BC drained the life out of Harvard. It was rare to see this line ever spend any time penned in to their own end; they were pretty much always cycling the puck in the attacking zone, winning wall battles along the way to keep attacks going. Tuch and Sanford combined for 11 even strength shot attempts, while Doherty picked up an assist.
  • BC remains somewhat mistake-prone on the blue line from time to time: Josh Couturier and Michael Kim are still being worked in to the lineup, as Travis Jeke and Teddy Doherty continue working as converted forwards. As such, both blueliners occasionally experience some growing pains, and that was evident tonight. They weren't the only Eagles to cough up turnovers that led to Harvard opportunities, but they had some of the more glaring ones, including an ill advised shot attempt in to traffic by Kim that led to Ryan Donato's breakaway goal to put Harvard on the board in the first period. BC will want to tighten things up on the back end as the stretch run accelerates. To BC's credit, they played a rock solid team defensive game in the third period that took pressure off the young defense corps.
  • Northeastern was mostly out of its depth against BU: Did anyone else sort of feel like BU was toying with Northeastern? After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, BU didn't do much for the rest of the game, but they really didn't have to. Northeastern only put 25 shots on net, with many of them being weak shots from the outside, and a good majority being one and done chances. Sean Maguire seemed to leave a lot of rebounds out there but NU created no traffic in front of the net to capitalize on them. Probably the most telling moment of the night was when NU came in on a 3-on-1 break and managed to shoot the puck in to the legs of the one defenseman. A telling stat: NU was only able to draw one power play, and on that power play they had exactly one shot attempt.
  • For all the pre-tournament hype, neither game was very exciting: The first game was fun if you were a BC fan as the Eagles were able to shut down Harvard's offense, but it probably didn't make for compelling viewing for neutrals. The second game was mostly of poor quality overall and Northeastern rarely ever felt like they were a legitimate threat to score two on BU once they went down 2-0. Let's hope for a classic BC-BU final to prevent this from going down in the books as a dud of a Beanpot. With all four teams coming in to this tournament hot, I expected some more sparks to fly on the first Monday.

    In part due to the pretty boring nature of both of the games, it was a fairly subdued atmosphere at the Beanpot tonight as well... certainly not the norm for this tournament.
  • In terms of sheer numbers, BC fans carry the day at the Beanpot: I noticed about halfway through the second period of the BU/Northeastern game that it was one of the emptiest nightcaps I could ever remember at the Beanpot. Then it hit me...BC is usually playing in the nightcap. BC fans—students and alumni/regular fans alike—turned out in big numbers considering the 5 PM start time, packing their end of the balcony and the lower bowl. (Harvard had an excellent contingent in the lower bowl though their student area in the balcony was empty as usual.)

    Granted, BC fans don't get some special pat on the back for this distinction...with how much success the Eagles have had over the past 15-20 years, you'd expect fan support to be the highest of all the Beanpot schools. But it was impressive to see just how big the turnout was.
  • ...But in terms of spirit, you've got to hand it to the Northeastern fans: While BC had the largest student section, size-wise, at the Beanpot on Monday night, they were off-puttingly quiet, particularly compared to the always spirited Northeastern fans who supported their team til the bitter end on Monday despite their team quite frankly giving them very little to cheer for. Much respect to the NU hockey fans for the way they come out and support in spite of nearly 30 years of Beanpot futility. Some day, they'll be rewarded...just probably not any day soon.