BOSTON — “STEF-AN SEE-WICK. Clap Clap Clap-Clap-Clap! STEF-AN SEE-WICK. Clap Clap Clap-Clap-Clap!”
It was appropriate that, on a night when the enormous Boston University student section would sound as good as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, they’d have the chance to chant such perfect words.
“STEF-AN SEE-WICK. Clap Clap Clap-Clap-Clap! STEF-AN SEE-WICK. Clap Clap Clap-Clap-Clap!”
The chant went to the rafters on Monday as the man on the opposite end of the hottest pre-Beanpot story played his heart out. His reward was more than just cheers, though. It was also a trip for his Boston University Terriers to the Beanpot Championship game for the 21st time in the last 22 seasons.
Stephan Siwiec, as his name is properly written, was drawn to the center of Beanpot attention a little more than two weeks ago.
John Curry, who had become BU’s workhorse and undisputed number-one goaltender, went down in a heap in the third period against Merrimack. The next day, when it was confirmed that Curry had separated his shoulder, the story became how quickly the sophomore ‘tender could recover.
By last weekend, it was realized that Curry would almost certainly be a no-go for Monday night’s semifinal date with archrival Boston College. By that time, though, the fear level from BU nation, similar to the U.S. terror alert system, had been lowered from “high” to simply “elevated.”
The reason: Stephan Siwiec.
In late November, you might have wondered if you’d ever again see Siwiec on the ice in a Terrier jersey during a game. In a November 27 game against Colorado College, Siwiec surrendered seven goals to the Tigers in only 40 minutes of play. He was lifted after the second period and never saw the net again — until, of course, Curry was injured.
“We didn’t think about [Siwiec] ever going back in because Curry was playing so well,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “It wasn’t like we watched the goalies in practice thinking maybe we’ll just put one of these guys in.
“Curry was playing so well. Then all of a sudden Curry was down.”
Parker said once Curry went down against Merrimack and his choice was to play Siwiec or rookie Karson Gillespie, he and goaltending coach Mike Geragosian decided that Siwiec would be a good replacement, based both on his size and his ability to stop the high shot against Merrimack, and also on the fact that Siwiec had played well in two prior appearances against the Warriors.
“He went out in a tough situation and played well in the third period. To steal an old line from [Harvard JV] coach Hutchinson, ‘Those who play well will be rewarded with further play.’”
That solid play continued through starts against Providence and Massachusetts-Lowell, so when Monday’s Beanpot came around it was an easy decision.
Parker credits Siwiec with improving his game, particularly the technical aspect which was often on display when Siwiec was making any of his career-high 36 saves. Siwiec himself says that staying focused when he wasn’t playing was the reason he was able to return with such a bang.
When asked if he thought he’d ever see himself in the situation he currently is in, Siwiec said, “No specifically, no.
“Curry was playing amazing so I had no qualms about him playing. Every practice every day, I just wanted to be ready in case the shot came. Now that it has, I just want to make the most of it.”
On Monday, Siwiec did just that, joining the long list of BU netminders who have seen success in this February classic which, should BU be able to pull off a win next Monday against Northeastern, can likely return to being called the BU Invitational.
It’s goaltender, according to Parker, though, that makes his club so successful. The overall numbers: besides the aforementioned 21 out of 22 finals, BU has also made it to 38 of the last 42 title games and 44 of 53 all time. The Terriers will go for their 26th title next Monday.
“We’ve always had goaltenders who can rise to the occasion,” said Parker. “In a short tournament such as this, goaltending is probably the most important thing.”
Goaltending will once again be what can carry BU to title number 26. Asked if Siwiec would again be in net, Parker answered specifically that if Curry is healthy, it will be Curry who gets the start.
“If you get injured and you’re ready to play, you probably should get back into the position as soon as you can,” said Parker. “That goes if you’re a right wing or a goaltender.”
Maybe Stephan Siwiec’s Beanpot ride, at least for this year, will be short. Maybe it’s not. We’ll have to wait and see. But at least it gives us something to talk about for yet another week.