BOSTON — Year after year, the Beanpot tournament has a way of forcing teams to reach for that second or third gear that you rarely see outside of the postseason.
Perhaps that’s why its most frequent champions, Boston College and Boston University, often bring home additional trophies to the case at the end of the year.
Semifinals: Feb. 3
• Third place: Harvard 6, Boston University 2
• Championship: Boston College 4, Northeastern 1 | Once again, Boston College finds another gear to extend Beanpot stranglehold | For Northeastern, more than a quarter-century of close calls but no Beanpot titles
For 53 minutes Monday, Northeastern was able to match them with a series of counter-punches, turning this title bout into yet another instant classic.
And yet, BC’s Patrick Brown found that extra gear as he was falling to the ice, caught in a tangle in front of the Northeastern goal, mindful of an oncoming shot from Isaac Macleod. He lunged forward with his stick, and redirected the puck past Clay Witt to pocket the game winner for the Eagles in what ended up being a 4-1 victory.
Brown is a BC legacy — both of his parents are alumni, and his father was a Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings in the mid 1990s. A lot to live up to, certainly.
But perhaps emblematic of how BC’s workmanlike effort has produced national championship-caliber teams year-in, year-out, Brown has earned a reputation as the hardest worker on the team and was unanimously voted its captain.
“We knew we needed a greasy goal in the third period,” tournament MVP Kevin Hayes said, “and one of the hardest working guys on the team got it.”
A fitting payoff, and where does it rank among the Beanpot goals Eagles coach Jerry York has witnessed during his tenure?
“Right at the top,” York said. “He was on his knees and reached back to redirect the puck. It was an amazing goal.”
“We compete. We compete to the very end,” Brown said of the Eagles’ consistent ability to reach that next level. “You win it once as a freshman, and you learn the culture: You want to win trophies. You can’t get enough of it.”
Throughout the 60-minute bout, there were a plethora of hold-your-breath moments, with both goalies rising to the occasion. Whether it was Witt batting a redirection out of midair or Thatcher Demko battling a swarm of crashing Northeastern players, it required a superhuman effort to keep the game deadlocked for so long.
Even after Northeastern surged through the second period to tie the game, Demko’s composure again showed why Boston College has such a stranglehold in this tournament at the moment.
“We weren’t worried, we didn’t panic,” Demko said. “It’s huge coming into the locker room before a game and having that calming presence in the locker room. [Patrick] Brown and the other seniors do a great job making sure everybody is ready and not overthinking things.”
That sentiment was echoed by Hayes.
“There was no panic in the room at all,” Hayes said, quickly noting: “One of our freshmen was the best player all night.”
The ability to rise over pressure — even as a favored team — comes in handy in February. It pays dividends in March and April.