BC aims for fourth straight Beanpot title when it faces upstart Northeastern
|02.11.13 at 10:10 am ET|
No current Northeastern players were born the last time the Huskies won a Beanpot championship, in February 1988. They’ll have a chance to end the school’s drought in the final on Monday, but they’ll have to go through a Boston College team looking to win its fourth straight tournament title, something BC has never done.
Both teams are led by diminutive young forwards: BC by sophomore Johnny Gaudreau, who leads Hockey East with 33 points in 22 games, and Northeastern by Kevin Roy, the highest-scoring freshman in the conference with 30 points in 24 games. Roy, at 5-foot-10, practically towers over the 5-foot-7 Gaudreau, but both have the speed and skill to erase any disadvantages of their size.
Roy outscored Boston University by himself in the semifinal round last Monday, recording a hat trick in Northeastern’s 3-2 win. Northeastern had not beaten BU in the Beanpot since 1988, the last year the Huskies won the tournament, before Roy buried a goal in each period of the semifinal to knock No. 13 BU out of contention.
“I think when the pressure’s higher, I get a better performance, so I was just excited to see what it was like,” Roy said after win.
It’s nothing new for Roy to be the most dominant Husky on the ice. He has 30 points on the season — 10 more than the second-highest Northeastern scorer, Vinny Saponari — and 15 goals, seven more than Cody Ferriero‘s eight.
That lack of balanced scoring might partially account for the fact that Northeastern sits in last place in Hockey East, 4-11-3 in conference play. But the Huskies have beaten BU twice and BC once, playing above their usual threshold when faced with local rivals.
“Northeastern’s definitely a very competitive opponent,” BC senior Steven Whitney said after the semifinal games. “They’re starting to get hot, and we’ve got to be well-prepared for them for Monday.”
BC topped Harvard, 4-1, to reach the Beanpot final for the fourth straight year. Gaudreau was robbed of a scoring chance in the first period by Harvard goalie Raphael Girard, but classmate Quinn Smith scored twice in the first multi-goal game of his career to lift BC to victory.
“Quinn is a good hard-nosed checking player for us. You need some real grinders, and he’s really good at it,” said BC coach Jerry York.
BC clearly was in control of that game, outshooting Harvard 46-20, but this isn’t quite last year’s unbeatable BC team. The Eagles have lost four of their last seven games, including a weekend sweep by eighth-place Maine on Jan. 25-26.
Senior goalie Parker Milner sat out the second game of that sweep, the first time he hadn’t started a game this season. Milner finished last year with a .937 save percentage as he stepped into the starting role, but he owns a .918 mark this season.
That puts him in the statistical company of Northeastern goalie Chris Rawlings, who, like the rest of his team, has had somewhat unpredictable highs and lows this year and enters the final with a .912 save percentage.
Against BU, Rawlings stopped 32 shots, but the group of young defensemen in front of him did its part, too. The Huskies blocked 19 shots in last Monday’s win.
“They played well in front of their goaltender,” BU coach Jack Parker said after the game. “Three freshmen, three sophomores, and they all played hard in front of their goaltender, blocked some shots. I was impressed with their overall team defense.”
On paper, BC is the better team in every measurable way, but Northeastern has been a tough team to predict all season.
“That’s an impressive win, to beat the Terriers here,” York said of the Huskies. “They’re going to feel really good about themselves, as well they should. It’ll be an interesting matchup.”