BOSTON — At long last, Boston College managed to get a monkey the size of Sasquatch off its back.
The Eagles ended Boston University’s unprecedented six-year reign as Beanpot champions, getting even-strength goals from five different scorers on the way to defeating the Terriers, 5-3, in front of 17,953 at the FleetCenter on Monday night.
It was a victory of historic proportions. The Terriers had won an unprecedented six straight Beanpots. The Eagles last won the historic tournament in 1994: No current Eagle ever had even a teammate who had won a championship.
“Our neighbors in Watertown think this is bigger than the national tournament. … Hopefully it will be a stepping stone to bigger and better things.”
- BC coach Jerry York
Before Monday, BU had a 7-0 record in the last seven championship games against BC. The Eagles’ last win against BU in a title game came on Feb. 9, 1976 — over a year before any player on either roster tonight was born.
“We haven’t lost a Beanpot final to BC in a quarter of a century,” Terrier Coach Jack Parker said. “I think you could say they were due. And they came with a good team to be due with, that’s for sure.
“It wasn’t fate; it was great players on the BC roster.”
Eagle Coach Jerry York was an extremely gracious winner.
“The champion goes down hard,” York said. “I thought BU really hung in there. We’ve got them three-nothing, but they don’t give you the trophy, you have to earn it. My hats off. I thought BU played very well with arguably their best player — Freddy Meyer — out with a concussion.
“It was a terrific Beanpot game. The audience, when they left, could say, ‘That was a terrific college hockey game.’ It was see-saw, back and forth, two really good hockey teams.”
“It was a total team effort,” Eagle captain Brian Gionta said. “Our freshman class has stepped in and made a lot happen.”
Of all the BC seniors, the victory was especially sweet for Hull, Mass. native Bobby Allen, who appeared to be the most emotional of all the players in the press conference afterwards.
“It feels real good,” Allen said. “There’s not a lot of words I can use to describe it. It’s something I dreamed of since I was a little kid.”
Krys Kolanos had a terrific game for BC — manhandling the Terriers at times — and was named tournament MVP despite not playing in the Eagles’ first-round win against Harvard due to a shoulder injury.
The Eagles’ offensive attack proved to be too much for Terrier netminder Jason Tapp, who has had a generally solid year but did not have his best game Monday.
Both teams looked a little nervous in the early going, though BU had the edge in scoring opportunities. Terriers captain Carl Corazzini seemed to key most of their best chances.
Shortly after completing an unimpressive power play, however, the Eagles got the first true break in the game with a rather soft goal at 9:43. Freshman J.D. Forrest intercepted a clearing attempt just inside the blue line and threw a long shot at the net behind some traffic. The puck ticked the bottom of Terrier goalie Jason Tapp’s glove-side arm on its way into the net.
Tapp didn’t look much better on the Eagles’ second goal at 13:12. Kolanos won an offensive-end faceoff back to freshman Brett Peterson at the right point. Tapp stopped Peterson’s slap shot, but it took him a moment to realize that he didn’t have the puck under his pads. The puck trickled off the side of the net, where Kolanos retrieved it behind the goal line, fought off Terrier Mark Mullen with one arm, and used the other to wrap the puck in on the opposite side before Tapp could scramble over to stop him.
It was Kolanos’ 20th goal of the season, second on the team only to Brian Gionta, who has 24.
Rob Scuderi had another good chance with less than a minute left in the period, but Tapp squeezed the shot between his legs, tipping over but holding on.
BU seemed to regain a little momentum in the second, only to have BC turn around and score on its first true chance of the period at 4:47.
After a Bill Cass shot went wide of the net, Kolanos retrieved the puck behind the goal line and made a nifty, blind backhanded pass, hitting freshman Chuck Kobasew just outside the crease. Tapp had no chance on this one, and the Terriers faced a daunting 3-0 lead, albeit with plenty of time to make amends on the scoreboard.
The Eagles’ top line almost made it 4-0 shortly thereafter, but soon the Terriers started to get the upper hand territorially. It paid off at 9:22.
After a protracted struggle of bodies behind the BC net, the puck came out to Mike Bussoli pinching in from the left point. Clemmensen got a foot on the shot, but the rebound caromed onto the stick of Frantisek Skladany on the opposite wing, and the Slovakian freshman easily buried the rebound to make it 3-1.
Tapp came up with a key save on a redirect by talented freshman Tony Voce, then showed shades of former Terrier netminder Rick DiPietro on a subsequent Terrier goal.
Tapp fed a long outlet pass to Brian Collins at the red line, and Collins tapped the puck to Kenny Magowan breaking in ahead of him. The big freshman did a nice job of fighting off BC defenseman Bill Cass before beating Clemmensen high on the glove side for a huge goal, making it 3-2.
BU survived a strong Eagle power play in the waning minutes of the period, setting the stage for the third.
BC regained its two-goal cushion on another fortuitous goal at 2:19. Senior Rob Scuderi took a big slap shot from just inside the blue line, and the puck bounced off Tapp’s arm, went high up in the air, then landed behind the goalie in the crease on the way in as he continued to look for the puck.
Just when things looked bleak for the Terriers, they showed true grit, getting the goal back at 3:38. Brian Collins dug the puck out from behind the Eagle net and flipped it in front. It bounced off Cavanaugh’s skate, and Mike Pandolfo swatted it toward the net. The puck barely crossed the goal line, but it was clearly a goal.
That got the Terrier fans back into the game, and they soon had a power play to cheer as well. There were a few chances, plus a shorthanded one by Gionta, but no goals. Now both team’s fans and bands were rocking the house.
“I think this team has showed resiliency all year,” Parker said. “We’ve played a lot of games where it looked like we were going to pull an el foldo, but we came back and held on.
“I don’t think this team knows how good they are yet.”
It looked as if the Terriers might be preparing for one last big push to tie, but BC made it 5-3 with 7:29 left on a slick play by freshman center Ben Eaves. The diminutive forward picked up the puck in the right-wing faceoff circle, then skated in alone on Tapp before beating him with a quick-release backhander.
A frustration-induced penalty by Tapp prevented the Terriers from having much of a shot for yet another comeback.
BU did get another power play with 1:48 left, but it did not give the Terriers enough time to battle back again. Even with the goalie pulled, they mustered few chances. Soon the Eagles were mobbing Scott Clemmensen and relishing a long-overdue Beanpot victory.
“It hasn’t totally sunk in yet,” BC senior Mike Lephart said. “The last [three] years, coming up short every time … then to finally accomplish it our senior year is something special.”
The Beanpot championship marked the 12th time that the Eagles won the tournament, second most of the four tournament teams. BU has won 23 Beanpots; Harvard has won 10, and Northeastern has just four tournament wins to their credit.
“Our neighbors in Watertown think this is bigger than the national tournament,” said York of the Beanpot. “It’s a very parochial tournament; it’s very important for us to play well here.
“Hopefully it will be a stepping stone to bigger and better things.”
Meanwhile, Parker was philosophical about the loss.
“We won 14 Beanpot games in a row and six championships in a row, but all good things must come to an end,” Parker said. “I was amazed we won six in a row to tell you the truth.”
BC (22-7-1) plays a home-and-home series against UNH this weekend, while BU (12-14-2) does the same with Providence.
(Also see: Beanpot Championship Notebook)