BOSTON — The Brothers Eaves’ fairy tale at Boston College hasn’t always been the stuff of storybooks. Ben and Patrick, they of the impeccable hockey pedigree, have played with one another at The Heights for the last two seasons, though not as often as they’d like.
Patrick missed 20 games last season with a neck injury and five more because of suspensions. Ben has already missed a month this year with a fractured left kneecap.
Patrick, now a sophomore, watched last year’s Beanpot from the stands. Ben, a senior captain, wore a suit to Monday’s Beanpot final and stood on the bench. The opportunity to play in a Beanpot together — something they presumed would happen twice — has passed them by.
But in the wake of the Eagles’ 2-1, come-from-behind victory over archrival Boston University, there was little time for regret. There was, after all, a Beanpot title to celebrate in Chestnut Hill for the first time since 2001.
“This is really special,” Patrick said outside his team’s locker room at the FleetCenter. “Ben was on the bench with us, right there with us. I would’ve loved to have been playing with him tonight, but this is just as good.”
Several feet away, Ben looked every bit the proud papa as he talked with Bobby Allen, a senior captain the last time the Eagles won the Hub’s greatest college hockey prize.
“I was their biggest cheerleader tonight,” Ben said, smiling. “With this group, it’s every guy for the team … Unfortunately, I was out of the lineup, but the boys pulled it out.”
Naturally, the elder Eaves wasn’t content to be a wallflower alongside BC coaches Jerry York, Ron Rolston, and Mike Cavanaugh. After all, his little brother was out there. He had a filial obligation to say something.
“He was telling me what I was doing wrong,” Patrick said, “and I was asking him for it.”
As a captain, it’s Ben’s duty to yell encouragement. He did that. But try to find “get your teammates some water” and “tape Ryan Shannon’s stick” in his job description.
Nevertheless, he did those things, too. “Anything they need,” Ben nodded.
What they needed for most of the game, quite simply, was a way to solve BU goaltender Sean Fields. Fields, who finished with an even 50 saves, walked away with the Most Valuable Player and Eberly awards for the second straight year and nearly stole the most important piece of hardware on the line.
But Ben’s assistant captain, Ty Hennes, tied it with 3:30 left in the third and junior Ryan Murphy won it 6:07 into overtime.
“It’s frustrating at times when you can’t pop one in, but I knew we wouldn’t quit,” Ben said. “There was a feeling on the bench. We knew we had them on the run a little bit.”
The top-ranked Eagles stand 1-for-1 in their quest for a season-long hat trick at the Fleet. Next month’s Hockey East championships and April’s Frozen Four loom on the horizon.
Ben figures to be healthy enough to join the Eagles by the time the league tournament begins, if not sooner. He is limping less now than one week ago and expects to return in a week or two.
Ben even gave two teammates a little shove when they tried to help him over to accept The Pot from tournament director Steve Nazro after the game. He got there just fine on his own, thank you very much.
“Every day I get up, and I’m working on more and more stuff,” he said. “As soon as the bone heals, I’ll be ready.”
Monday, though, Ben Eaves’ kneecap wasn’t the first thing on his mind. No. He and Patrick had to figure out who was going to call their parents with the news.
“My brother will probably call one,” Patrick said, smiling, “and I’ll call the other.”