BOSTON — With three national championships in the last five years, Boston College has become the envy of college hockey.
But until this night, the Eagles couldn’t claim a senior class with a perfect 8-0 Beanpot record — four titles in four years.
Boston University could. Three straight senior classes accomplished that feat from 1995 through 2000 as the Terriers made the tournament their own with an unprecedented and unmatched six consecutive Beanpot titles. Terriers from another era, 1970 to 1973, also went four-for-four.
But not the Eagles. They took three in a row from 1963 to 1965 but never four.
Not even the Brian Gionta-led class that went to four straight Frozen Fours. BU stymied that group until it finally broke through in the 2001 national championship season.
“That was as close as I could envision us winning them all,” BC coach Jerry York said. “We ran into some unbelievable goaltenders. We made MVPs out of goaltenders.”
Not anymore. Northeastern freshman Kevin Roy took home the MVP after scoring his fourth and fifth Beanpot goals against BC. But he did so in a losing effort.
The BC Class of 2013 can enter the history books as the first Eagles to sweep the Beanpot.
“I’m so proud of what the seniors have done,” York said. “They’re really model citizens for BC hockey.”
Glancing at captain Pat Mullane and alternate captains Steven Whitney and Patrick Wey, he added, “I couldn’t think of three people who would better reflect all the intrinsic values of our team.”
It wasn’t easy, though.
A Whitney goal with 0.4 seconds remaining in the second period drove the lead to 4-1.
Game over. Stick a fork in Northeastern.
Until, that is, Roy scored his fifth Beanpot goal just 11 seconds into the third, and then Vinny Saponari caromed a shot off Braden Pimm just minutes later to turn the outcome into a very big question.
Could the milestone be slipping away from seniors Mullane, Wey, Whitney, Milner, Brooks Dyroff and sidelined-by-injury Patch Alber?
At about the nine-minute mark, Garrett Vermeersch got the opportunity to tie the once-lost game with a breakaway, only to be foiled by Milner.
Two minutes later, Roy got the puck on the doorstep with a chance to record back-to-back Beanpot hat tricks, but the puck was too close to Milner and Roy couldn’t work his magic.
Would BC lose a lead almost as agonizing as the one against North Dakota over a decade ago in the national championship game?
The answer didn’t become clear until barely more than five minutes remained. Whitney, the senior, broke up the right wing, slammed on the brakes and dropped a pass to freshman Mike Matheson. The defenseman faked a shot top shelf before sliding a pass across the goalmouth to sophomore sensation Johnny Gaudreau, who knocked it in for the clincher.
The Eagles added an empty-netter but this nailbiter bore marked similarities to BC’s last three Beanpot titles, all won either in overtime or by a single goal.
“Look at their head coach,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. “He’s as poised and as calm as they come. The team has that same demeanor and personality. They’ve won four straight here now and three national championships. They’re skilled and they’re smart and they’re poised.”
They’ll also be getting to bed at a decent hour, apparently part of York’s winning culture.
After praising his team, York added with a grin, “There will be a curfew.”