BOSTON — With a 3-2 Boston University overtime victory in this year’s Beanpot, the tournament was eerily similar to the 1987 edition of the February classic.
In that year, Northeastern downed Harvard in overtime in the semifinal, then fell to the Terriers in the extra session of the championship game. The other two games also had the same outcome, with BU topping BC in the semi, and Boston College topping Harvard in the consolation game.
This year’s tournament was unique, however, as it featured the fewest combined goals scored in the four games. In all, 16 goals were scored, which shattered the previous record of 19.
“That just goes to show the quality of the teams,” said BU senior Bryan Miller, who scored a shorthanded goal in the first period. The field was the most competitive in his four years of the tournament.
“All four teams are ranked pretty high,” he said, referring to the fact that all four are teams under consideration for the NCAA tournament. Coming into Monday’s action, Boston College was third in the PWR, Harvard ninth, Boston University 10th, and Northeastern 19th.
The FleetCenter recently announced a new initiative in which interested parties can buy naming rights to the arena for specific days. All proceeds go to the FleetCenter neighborhood charities.
Tonight featured the first of the new names for the arena, as signs around the facility read “KurtCenter,” named after a boy from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The FleetCenter originally had given Kurt tickets to see the Bruins, but after the NHL lockout, it was decided to name the arena after him for the Beanpot finals. Kurt also was given a ride to the arena for Monday in the Bruins’ Hummer, and watched the championship game from a suite.
Thursday marks the first sale of the naming rights. Bidding for the rights is taking place on eBay, and the current high bid for Thursday’s naming is over $33,000. Sales for dates through the end of February are currently available, with the lowest bid for any date already over $2,000.
USCHO Center for the Hockey East finals? Sounds good to us. Now if we can only find several thousand dollars to carry through the idea.
What A Week — Almost
Northeastern came within an overtime goal of having one of the best weeks of a college hockey team in recent memory. The Huskies defeated No. 9 Harvard in the semifinals of the Beanpot last Monday, then hit the road in a 3-2 win over red-hot No. 13 Massachusetts-Lowell on Thursday, and went to overtime with Boston University in the title game, nearly winning the school’s first Beanpot since 1988.
Last week, it was noted that all four Beanpot schools featured at least one player from the New York Apple Core, a junior hockey team.
An astute reader pointed out that all four schools also contain at least one player from St. Sebastian’s High School — BC has forward Brian Boyle; Northeastern forward Mike Morris; defenseman Noah Welch from Harvard is an alum; and BU features the pair of Kenny Roche and Sean Sullivan.
When the flu kept BC goalie Cory Schneider from his regular turn in the rotation on Friday against Merrimack, the Beanpot consolation game was a perfect opportunity to reestablish the rotation as well as get Schneider a taste of playing in a large venue like the FleetCenter.
However, in the middle of the second period, Schneider had to be helped from the ice after twisting his knee chasing down an errant puck. He was replaced by Matti Kaltiainen, who stopped all 14 shots he saw in his period plus of work.
“It looks like a sprained MCL,” said BC coach Jerry York. “Matti came off the bench like [Keith] Foulke for the Red Sox and did a very good job for us. That’s difficult, not expecting to play and coming off the bench kinda cold.”
Schneider has been an important part to BC’s success this season, with a 8-0-4 record, a goals against average under 2 and a save percentage of .922. Still, the senior Kaltiainen has held his own with a .931 sv% and a 1.47 GAA. While Schneider rehabs the knee, Kaltiainen will be the starter.
“Matti’s gonna be asked to carry this thing for a few weeks,” said York.
Welcome To The Club, Part II
Harvard coach Ted Donato has been credited with breathing new life and an improved atmosphere into the Crimson. With a 15-7-2 record, the team currently sits at No. 9 in the latest edition of the USCHO.com/CSTV Poll and is tied for ninth in the PairWise Rankings, a good indicator for NCAA postseason selection.
However, earlier victories over Boston College and Boston University didn’t help Donato’s team escape a fourth-place finish in this year’s tournament, nor help reverse a trend that has seen Harvard finish fourth in seven of the last ten years and advance to the title game just once in that span.
Donato was asked if he was glad the distraction of the Beanpot was over, so Harvard could focus on the competitive ECACHL race and a probable run in the NCAA tournament.
“No, not at all,” said Donato. “I said to our guys, ‘It’s not often you get a chance to play the No. 1 team in the country.’ We had a chance to beat them twice in one season.”
“You get to the point where you are down and you need to throw the kitchen sink at ‘em, and that’s what we did.” — Northeastern coach Bruce Crowder, on his team’s strategy against BU.
“The Beanpot is one of the main reasons I came to BU.” — Chris Bourque, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime for Boston University.
“I’ll tell you the same thing I told my players: we dodged a bullet tonight. We got outplayed for 60 minutes.” — BU coach Jack Parker.