The Beanpot, held at TD Garden annually, is one of the most-renowned NCAA Hockey tournaments in the nation. It is decided between four Boston teams who duke it out for the coveted title every season: the Boston University Terriers, Boston College Eagles, Northeastern Huskies and Harvard Crimson.
The tournament is always intense and thus entertaining for those in attendance. It is also broadcast across New England, making these college hockey contests some of the most viewed in the region. Better yet, the Beanpot has seemed to become more competitive than ever in recent seasons: all four teams have taken home the title in the last four seasons with Northeastern as the defending champs after taking home the trophy last season.
This season is no different. Both semifinal games were won by a single goal and one even required overtime to decide the victor. Both of these contests were high-paced, physical and certainly set the stage for what is expected to be a compelling finale.
BC Survives Harvard
The Crimson entered the 2019 Beanpot as the No. 19 ranked team in the nation. They were also on a four-game winning streak during which they outscored opponents 17-8. The Eagles, on the other hand, have had a rough second semester. Though they were coming off a win against the University of Connecticut, BC went 2-5-1 in January on top of what has been a disappointing season for the program overall.
Harvard was the overwhelming favorite in Monday evening’s matchup, but the Eagles were up to the challenge. Just five minutes into play, Patrick Giles netted the first goal of his college career to give BC a 1-0 lead. The freshman couldn’t have picked a better time to finally get on the board in his 23rd NCAA appearance.
The Crimson answered back in the second frame. Defenseman John Marino broke into the offensive zone and skated the puck down the right wing, looking for a pass throughout his entire trek. Once the junior made his way beneath the goal line, a passing lane finally opened up. He sent the puck to the front of the cage as sophomore Henry Bowlby crept into the slot and fired it by BC goaltender Joseph Woll from one knee, tying the game.
— HarvardMHockey (@HarvardMHockey) February 4, 2019
The Eagles received four power plays in the second period but weren’t able to do anything with them. In fact, the game saw nine man advantages come and go with no scoring. BC was got 11 shots off their five power plays while Harvard had 12 shot attempts on their four opportunities. Ultimately, it was a five-on-five play that decided the semi-final game’s outcome.
Jack McBain’s Game-Winner
Freshman Jack McBain got just one shot on goal all game – and he made it count. Skating down the left wing, the Eagle sent a gentle pass behind the Harvard defenseman in front of him. Fellow freshman Oliver Wahlstrom picked up the puck at the top of the circle. The highly-talented forward, who has seven goals and six assists in 23 games this season, drew the attention of his surrounding opponents.
Wahlstrom sent a nifty back-handed drop pass to McBain. It was just like the cliche football phrase “the quarterback put the ball where only his receiver could catch it.” With three Crimson players scrambling to thwart the opportunity, the puck found its way to McBain who sent a one-timer on net, picking the top-right corner for a 2-1 BC lead.
McBain was tripped up after the shot, causing a (maybe not so graceful) impression of Bobby Orr. The freshman and his teammates literally jumped for joy as they gained a one-goal lead with just 7:38 in regulation. Despite being outshot 28-18, BC held on for the 2-1 victory and propelled themselves over the Crimson and into the 2019 Beanpot Final.
Northeastern Beats BU in OT
Just like the Harvard and BC matchup, the other semifinal game had a clear favorite. Northeastern skated into their matchup on Monday as the No. 12 team in the country. While they were on a cold streak with two losses to the Providence Friars and one to the UMass-Lowell River Hawks, they still felt like the more explosive team.
The Huskies were up against an up-and-down Boston University team who, despite some success during their second semester, entered play having lost two games in a row against ranked teams. The Terriers are accustomed to giving up early leads – a trait that has led to their downfall throughout the season. While they are often able to put up a good fight in these circumstances, finding yourself down a goal in the first period is not a good way to win a hockey game.
The Terriers suffered that fate in Monday night’s semifinal. Northeastern senior Patrick Shule chased BU defenseman Cam Crotty out from the behind his team’s net. Coming up from behind his opponent, Shule threw not one, not two, but three stick lifts.
It was a tremendous effort that resulted in Northeastern possession as junior Liam Pecararo came racing into the zone to snag the puck. Pecararo slowly drifted to the left side of the net, buying time for Shule to free himself from Crotty. The senior found himself wide open in the slot, received the pass and snapped it to the back of the net.
Northeastern has regularly scored in bunches this season, but the Terriers dodged that bullet by tightening up their play all over the ice. With 41 seconds left in the first period, BU freshman Joel Farabee tied the game. Crotty took a shot from the left point that missed the net wide. However, it bounced off the end boards and to the right of the net. Farabee was already crashing the crease and sent the ricochet to the back of the net, tying the game 1-1.
The following 40 minutes of play hosted a wealth of blue-collar hockey and solid goaltending. Northeastern certainly took control late in the game, forcing BU’s junior netminder Jake Oettinger to make 24 stops in the third period alone. The Terriers were only able to respond with eight shots of their own.
Tyler Madden’s Heroics
After seeing over two periods of shutout hockey, the crowd settled in for overtime. However, freshman Tyler Madden quickly put an end to things. The Terriers were in the middle of a line change and, after BU sophomore Ty Amonte turned the puck over at the Huskies’ blue line, Northeastern junior defenseman Jeremy Davies corralled the puck. With plenty of time and space, Davies read the ice and find Madden streaking down the middle of the ice.
The freshman had split the Terriers’ defense and moved into the offensive zone with no white jerseys in sight. As he glided in, Madden froze – waiting for Oettinger to make the first move before taking the shot. Oettinger committed just one pad to the ice, but that was enough. The freshman shot and the puck glanced off the netminder’s pad and into the back of the net. The celebration that followed may be remembered more than the goal itself:
Tyler Madden's breakaway goal in overtime lifts Northeastern over Boston University in the Beanpot semifinal. pic.twitter.com/fdLahJkvF2
— NESN (@NESN) February 5, 2019
That was it: the Huskies were off to the 2019 Beanpot Final. They will meet a Boston College team that had quite the grind out themselves. Given Northeastern’s tendency to score early and in bunches, the finale of this tournament could be lights out from the start. On the other hand, given their semifinal date with BU and other recent performances, we may have a close game on our hands once again – especially considering how BC showed up against Harvard.
The Eagles and Huskies have yet to clash this season, so it will be quite the prologue to their weekend series in March. The game could tilt in either team’s favor. However, one thing is certain: this season’s Beanpot champion will be crowned on Monday night and you won’t want to miss it.
I cover the Boston Bruins and NCAA Hockey here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised 10 miles north of Boston, I developed a love for the game of ice hockey at a very young age. There’s really nothing better than this sport, though steak is a close second.