BOSTON — Boston College’s newly-made all-time leading goal scorer, Brian Gionta, is enjoying fast starts lately. And Monday’s Beanpot semifinal victory over Harvard was no exception. For BC’s third straight game, Gionta opened the scoring.
Anyone that hasn’t been hibernating for the last couple of weeks knows that Gionta opened with five goals on his first five shots against Maine two weeks ago. Friday night in the Eagles’ 4-3 victory over Lowell, Gionta blasted home a goal just 25 seconds into the game. Monday night it took 4:23 before Gionta would light the lamp against Harvard. By adding assists in the second and third period, Gionta is the leading Beanpot scorer among active Eagles with eight points (four goals, four assists) in seven games.
No Rest For the Weary
Being the only team to play two games this past weekend, was a big factor weighing against Harvard. All three Hockey East Beanpot teams, BC, BU and Northeastern, all play only single games on the weekends before each Beanpot Monday. Harvard was left to play two grueling league games against Colgate and Cornell. Besides the obvious advantage of playing one less game, each of the Hockey East schools’ coaches were also able to be in attendance for Harvard’s 2-1 loss to Cornell on Saturday.
Shutout Streak, Of Sorts, Broken
It looked as if Game One of the 2001 Beanpot was going to hold pattern with last year’s semifinals. In those games, the losing clubs (Harvard and Northeastern) were both shut out. It wasn’t until Harvard rookie Kenny Turano scored with 10:22 remaining that the streak was broken. The Crimson, of course, broke a streak of their own: they had not scored in a semifinal game since the final second of regulation in a 4-3 overtime loss to Northeastern in the 1999 Beanpot.
Eagles to Back-to-Back Finals; Crimson Need Consoling Again
With BC’s win, they reach the finals for the second consecutive year and the fourth time since head coach Jerry York’s arrival back in the 1994-95 season. Of course, with BU’s streak of six straight Beanpots, BC has not won any of those championship games. Its last Beanpot came in 1994 under coach Steve Cedorchuk, a 2-1 overtime upset victory over Harvard in the final.
For the Crimson, it’s the third straight trip to the early game next Monday night. Harvard’s last victory in the semifinal was in 1997 against Boston College. Its 5-4 overtime victory over the Eagles that year earned the Crimson a trip to a championship game matchup with BU, and a second-place finish after a 2-1 overtime loss.
Special Teams the Turning Point
Most hockey pundits would tell you that special teams and goaltending win championships. The first half of that equation was certainly true tonight.
The Eagles recorded nine of their 30 shots on the night while on the power play, scoring twice. Conversely, the Eagles stuffed the Crimson on all five of their attempts with the man advantage, limiting Harvard to just two shots on the PP.
“That was a key part of the game,” said Eagles coach Jerry York about the early-game special teams play. “We had a good kill [of the 5-on-3] and then we scored on our first two power plays.”
They Said It …
“I’ve been coming to the Beanpot since I was a little kid. It’s really special for a local guy like myself, [seeing as] we dont have that many on the BC roster anymore.” – Eagles defenseman Bobby Allen, a native of nearby Hull, Mass.
“I think Brian Gionta perhaps played one of his best games tonight. Well, there was that five goals-five shots game [against Maine].” – Eagles coach Jerry York on Gionta’s three-point performance on Monday.