BOSTON — Has the Beanpot left the Boston area kid behind? If you listen to some people, it has, and depending on where you look, they have a point.
Last week, Boston University, long a bastion of Massachusetts-bred talent, advanced to the championship because of goals by Colby Cohen (Villanova, Pa.) and Alex Chiasson (St. Augustin, Quebec) along with 26 saves by Kieran Millan (Edmonton, Alberta).
Whatever happened to Southie, Winthrop, and Reading?
In fact, next year BU is expected to have more kids from California on its roster than Massachusetts.
California? More kids than Massachusetts?
Someone, however, forgot to tell Boston College, which defeated BU, 4-3, to take its second Beanpot title in three years. Of the Eagles who dressed for the championship game, 11 came from Massachusetts. Want to talk contributions? Let’s count the ways.
Freshman Steven Whitney (Reading) scored a critical power-play goal to even the score early in the second, 1-1. Later in the period, another freshman, Chris Kreider (Boxford), dazzled by beating a BU defender one-on-one and then making a great move on Millan to stake the Eagles to a 3-1 lead. Barry Almeida (Springfield) scored a crucial insurance goal early in the third on a two-on-one.
Assisting on the various goals were Bay State natives Brian Gibbons (Braintree), Matt Lombardi (Milton) and Jimmy Hayes (Dorchester).
Tournament MVP John Muse (East Falmouth) stopped 31 shots and, combined with his shutout of Harvard in the opening round, earned the Eberly Award for best save percentage.
“We’re always trying to win the recruiting wars in our backyard,” BC coach Jerry York said after the win. “That’s important for us.
“A lot of our good players are right from this area. There was a down cycle for Massachusetts hockey for a while, but it’s starting to come up again.”
Of course, geography is only one variable in the equation.
“You also want to get the best players,” York said. “So if a boy is from California and he’s the best left wing, we’re going to try for that player.”
Mindful of Matti Kaltiainen’s contributions just a handful of years ago, York added with a grin, “We’ll go to Finland for a goalie.”
Perhaps, however, the overwhelmingly local flavor of the roster has been a factor in BC’s recent success, wresting away BU’s former stranglehold.
“It’s definitely special being local,” Stephen Whitney said. “You grow up watching it. You know how big it is. Everyone knows how special it is.”
Just how special?
How about a comparison with Team USA’s gold medal at the recently completed World Junior Tournament? Kreider enjoyed both.
“This means everything to me,” Kreider said. “I grew up watching this. When I got my turn with the Pot, I took it immediately to my Mom. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling.
“It’s right up there with winning the gold at the World Junior Tournament.
“I wouldn’t say that the World Junior Tournament win doesn’t strike close to home, but for me growing up in the area, this was a really, really important tournament to me. This was one of the big factors when I was choosing which college I wanted to go to. I wanted to play in the Beanpot.”