BOSTON, Mass. — Few people in Boston who think of the Beanpot would ever envision a young boy from Minnesota among the tournament legends of the 50-year-old event. Names like Greeley, Cleary, and O’Callahan are the ones etched into Beanpot history – all home-grown in New England, just like the Beanpot Tournament itself.
Now, though, you can add Edina, Minnesota’s own Justin Maiser to that list of heroes. Maiser, a Boston University freshman from the U.S. National Development Program, delivered one of the biggest blows in recent Beanpot history, breaking a 3-3 tie with 1:12 remaining in regulation to lift carry the BU Terriers to their 24th Beanpot championship and sending Northeastern University home without the coveted Beanpot title for the 14th straight year.
Maiser’s goal came as many of the 17,565 in attendance at the FleetCenter were preparing for overtime. With an offensive zone faceoff, Terrier rookie David Klema pushed a draw forward. Winger Kenny Magowan pressured the Huskies defender, and made a nifty lift-check for a turnover, centering a pass back to Klema in front. With composure, Klema found a wide-open Maiser, who roofed a shot just over a sprawling Keni Gibson (26 saves) and just
under the crossbar to send “BU Nation” into pandemonium.
“Klema told me and Magowan he was going to push [the draw] through and that I should go to the net,” said Maiser, whose game-winner, along with a first-period tally, earned him the tournament Most Valuable Player Award.
“I was sitting out in front.” said Maiser. “I got a beautiful pass and just snuck it in there.”
“I was real surprised at how poised all of our freshman played,” said BU head coach Jack Parker about the rookie class that contributed three goals and four assists in the 5-3 victory. “I thought Klema and Maiser played great together and that line gave us some big shifts throughout the game.”
Maiser’s heroics were set up by a more typical Terrier hero, captain Mike Pandolfo, who evened the game at three at 3:54 of the final period. The goal came after Pandolfo himself felt like a goat, having taken a penalty at the closing buzzer of the second period that put Northeastern on the power play entering the third.
“That was the most nervous I’ve ever been in the penalty box in all my life,” admitted Pandolfo. “I was just praying they would kill and they did a great job of killing [the penalty].”
As BU coached Jack Parker described it, the game was a “tale of two games.” Though billed as one of the most evenly-matched title tilts in recent memory, BU used pure experience – playing in its 41st of 50 championship games – to take control early against an obviously nervous Northeastern team.
“For the first 30 or 34 minutes, we put on a pretty good clinic out there,” said Parker, whose Terriers jumped out to a 2-0 lead during that time. “All of a sudden the referee gets involved and we’re down a few, they score a couple of power-play goals and we’re back on our heels.”
“We battled once we got through the first period,” said Bruce Crowder, who is 0-2 coaching Beanpot title games with both losses coming against BU. “But I’m extremely proud of our team. We came back and battled a little adversity in the game. We had some great chances to make a difference when the score was 3-3, and we continued to battle right down to the end.”
Northeastern spotted BU the 2-0 lead on a first-period goal from Maiser and a second-period tally from fellow rookie Ryan Whitney. Maiser capitalized on an NU turnover, taking a pass near the goal line and firing a tight-angle shot past Gibson. Whitney also took advantage of a Husky turnover, picking off a clearing pass at the blue line, walking deep into the zone and pushing a shot along the ice and through a screen to give BU a 2-0 lead.
To the mid-point of the game, BU had total control, having not allowed a quality scoring chance on BU netminder Sean Fields (25 saves). Even shorthanded, the Terriers looked to have control of Northeastern until Chris Lynch tipped a Jim Fahey shot at 12:43 to pull the Huskies within a goal.
Seeming rejuvenated, the Huskies drew a penalty to BU’s Magowan at 14:12 and scored a second power-play tally just six second later. Again, it was Lynch, who picked up an errant BU clearing and fired two shots on Fields, the second through his five-hole.
Even worse for the Terriers, after surrendering the two tallies to even the game, Northeastern’s Fahey blasted a slapshot through the legs of Fields with 10 seconds remaining in the second to give Northeastern a 3-2 lead entering the final 20 minutes.
BU, though, is no stranger to comebacks. Having trailed in 10 of its wins already on the season, two of those entering the third period, the Terriers and Pandolfo took advantage of good fortune early in the third. After Bryan Miller fired a clearing pass into the BU zone, Pandolfo headed towards the net hoping for a lucky bounce.
“I saw the puck come off the boards and knew it was bouncing,” said Pandolfo. “I kind of felt it was going to bounce over [the defenseman's stick] and it did. The goalie pulled off the post and all I had to do was put it in.”
With the game tied at three Northeastern had a few quality chances to regain the lead. Mike Ryan missed an empty net after Field misplayed the puck with seven minutes left. And with five minutes remaining, Lynch took a pass from Eric Ortlip on the doorstep, but Fields stonewalled him.
And that left the door open for Maiser to add his name to Beanpot history. BU’s Jack Baker added an empty-net goal with 2.5 second remaining for the 5-3 final.
“To have a freshman from Minnesota get the MVP of the Beanpot is quite unusual,” quipped Parker. Maiser is the second Terrier freshman in three years to earn the honor, joining local-born Rick DiPietro, who was similarly honored two years ago.
For Boston University, the title is its 24th overall, seventh out of the last eight, and 11th out of the last 14. Northeastern remains with only four titles all-time – all coming in the decade of the 1980s – 1980, 1984, 1985, and 1988.