BOSTON — In the semifinal between Boston University and Northeastern, neither team provided much Beanpot experience: neither team had a player who had scored more than four points in previous ‘Pots. Senior Mike Morris led the Huskies with two goals and two assists, and senior defenseman Kevin Schaeffer and sophomore forward Jason Lawrence share the BU lead, also with four points.
BC’s active scoring leader was Dan Bertram, with three points in four games, while Harvard’s Jon Pelle led the way with four points.
Scoring is down in recent years. The all-time leading scorer in Beanpot history is Harvard’s Joe Cavanagh, who scored a whopping 19 points in just six games from 1969 to 1971. No player from the last 15 years has cracked the top 25 in all-time Beanpot scoring.
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The statistics regarding BU’s dominance in the Beanpot are well circulated; the Terriers are 20-2 in the TD Banknorth Garden during Beanpot play. What makes the numbers all the more striking is the mediocre BU performance in the building otherwise: in Hockey East playoffs here, the Terriers are just 0.500 (6-6).
With Monday’s win, BU has advanced to the Beanpot championship game in 13 straight seasons.
“Next week’s consolation game is a tough game to play in,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “It’s almost an aside to the championship game, with two teams getting ready to play for the big game, with all the hype and media attention that comes with it. But the game counts in the national standings just like any other game. It means a lot, but it doesn’t. So it’s good to avoid that whole mess.
“It really is a remarkable streak, particularly with the quality of the four teams,” continued Parker. “It’s really like a coin flip. If you flip a coin, it’s supposed to come up heads fifty-fifty. But you might flip heads 35 times in a row. We’ve just been on the lucky end of the flip. I just hope I’m not here when it goes the other way.”
Because of BU’s remarkable record, the performance of the Boston College Eagles sometimes gets overshadowed. However, except for the times they face the Terriers, the Eagles have a remarkable record of their own. Neither Harvard nor Northeastern has won a game against Boston College since 1998, when Harvard won 5-4 over Boston College in overtime in the semifinals. BC is 9-0 against the Crimson and the Huskies since then.
Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen, the reigning Hockey East rookie of the month, had a stunning own goal to give the Terriers a 3-0 lead, as an errant clearing attempt while under pressure from BU’s Dan McGoff found the back of the net.
“Thiessen played a good game,” said Greg Cronin, Northeastern coach, who minced no words when it came to evaluating his own team’s performance after the game. “It could have easily been 4-0 [for BU] after the first two periods.
“He’s the least of our worries.”
The last own goal scored in the Beanpot came from Harvard’s Noah Welch, who scored against his own team back in 2005′s consolation game against Boston College, a 4-1 loss.
McGoff was credited with the goal, and added an insurance goal to end the scoring.
“Before the game, I said to him, ‘Refresh my memory: is this your first Beanpot?’” said Parker. It was. “Because he’s played a lot for us, but not at this time of year.”
Every year, in anticipation of the Beanpot, Harvard has an early-season non-conference game with both BU and BC. The Crimson has compiled a pretty decent record against Beanpot competition in non-Beanpot games: in eight games over the last four years, Harvard has a 5-2-1 record, including wins against BC three straight times. But for whatever reason, Harvard can’t seem to continue that success in February.
“[BC] changed some things up since the last time we played them,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato, referring to a 4-0 Harvard win over BC in November. “But I don’t think this was an Xs and Os type game.
“We couldn’t sustain the pressure that we have had for the last several games,” he continued. Harvard has a 6-2-2 record in it’s last 10 games.
BC coach Jerry York had a simple explanation for the Harvard loss: the schedule.
“I tried to think about six games in ten days … that’s what Harvard had to do,” he explained. In the past few years, Harvard’s league, the ECACHL, has managed to arrange a light schedule for Harvard come Beanpot time, to allow the players to focus on the in-season tournament. This year, the schedule didn’t work out that way, so Harvard faced ECACHL opponents in five games over the course of ten days, capped off with the Beanpot semifinal.
“I don’t think NHL teams have to play that kind of schedule,” remarked York. “So I think we had some extra spring in our step. We played five games in nine days earlier this season, and we were very tired, so I can just imagine what they felt like.”
Harvard’s Dylan Reese denied that fatigue played a significant role.
“I felt fine,” he said. “I don’t think we were tired. Even if we were, we won’t use that as an excuse. There were other reasons why we didn’t play well.”
BU netminder John Curry extended two remarkable streaks with the shutout in the semifinal game against Northeastern.
The last meeting between these two teams produced a 0-0 tie, meaning no Husky player has scored on Curry in 127:03. He also has a 159:58 active scoreless streak, against UMass, Mass.-Lowell, and now Northeastern.
“We played really well defensively,” said Curry. “We had a couple of breakdowns where I had to make some low pad saves. But the defense did a good job getting bodies in the shooting lanes and clearing out loose pucks. It was an all-around good defensive effort tonight.”
Hall Of Fame
This year, Northeastern’s Dave O’Brien was inducted into the Beanpot hall of fame. Of the four Beanpot titles Northeastern has won in the 54 years of tournament history, O’Brien earned half; he was freshman when the Huskies won in 1985, and a senior in 1988, the last time Northeastern won the ‘Pot.
Also selected was Jim Tiernan of Boston College, who won two of the three Beanpots he played in, in 1956 and 1957. In his first year, 1955, the Eagles fell to Harvard in overtime. Tiernan was selected the MVP in 1956, and totaled 10 points on four goals and six assists in his three seasons.