BOSTON — One FleetCenter championship down for the Boston College Eagles — two to go.
In a classic battle pitting the long-term Beanpot dominance of Boston University against the superior talent of No. 1 BC, the Eagles showed prowess and perseverance, overcoming a heroic 50-save effort by Terrier goaltender Sean Fields to beat their archrivals 2-1 on Ryan Murphy’s goal at 6:07 of overtime.
On paper, this one had the makings of a BC romp, given the respective records of the two teams. As it turned out, a sellout crowd of 17,565 watched as BC did indeed dominate BU — everywhere except on the scoreboard.
Despite outshooting the Terriers by a 4-to-1 ratio, the Eagles needed a Ty Hennes goal with 3:30 left in regulation to avoid succumbing to the underdog Terriers once again. Fields was named Beanpot MVP — the first-ever player in the event’s history to win the honor in a losing effort — thanks to his career-high 50 saves keeping the Terriers in it.
The BC championship ended a run of two in a row, as well as eight of nine Beanpots, for the Terriers. It also may set the stage for the Eagles to match their trifecta in 2001, when BC won the Beanpot, a Hockey East championship, and an NCAA championship in the same season.
All three events will be in the FleetCenter this year, and now the Eagles must be considered the odds-on favorites. But for now, they’re basking in the Beanpot.
“I thought our team really played a remarkable game,” BC coach Jerry York said. “We were good in all facets — our forecheck, our d-zone coverage. We were deep into our lineup good — all four lines and all six defensemen.
“I was very pleased, especially for our seniors. They want to make this a memorable year. … To do it without Ben Eaves [knee injury] in the lineup is a remarkable thing for us.
“Sean Fields almost stole the game,” added York. “One of the key parts for our team was we handled the frustration of hot goaltender, a one-nothing deficit, a goal called back [due to a crease violation in the third period], and still kept our poise.”
On the game-winner, Ryan Shannon took a shot, and Ryan Murphy fanned on a rebound attempt. Terrier forward David Van der Gulik attempted the clear, but it caromed off Shannon and came right back to Murphy, who potted it as pandemonium broke out on the ice and in the BC sections of the stands.
“I wish I could say that I tried to pick a corner, but I just fired it,” Murphy said. “As quickly as I could, I tried to get it off.
“It’ll sink in eventually. Everyone grows up dreaming of scoring a game-winning goal in overtime. For it to happen is wonderful.
“We tried to stay away from his glove hand,” Murphy said of Fields. “But as it turns out, it was his glove hand that I shot it over.”
“Didn’t listen to the coach,” York said, chuckling.
Terrier coach Jack Parker got what he wanted: a low-scoring battle, although he acknowledged that his team wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be.
“We played the type of game we wanted to play in many ways, but we were still too jumpy with the puck, I thought,” Parker said. “We did a real good job of holding onto that lead for quite a while … In general, we played a smart game, but we weren’t as quick as we’d like to be. For the most part, we didn’t give up any rebounds, but they finally tied it on a rebound goal with the defensemen crashing the net.
“Obviously a major difference in the game was how well our goaltender played,” added Parker. “But it wasn’t quite enough, because one more time we get one goal. We’ve played too many games this year where we just get one goal or two goals; that’s been our M.O. this year.”
The Terriers got the first power play of the night but may as well have declined. They generated nothing. Just 24 seconds after the power play expired, though, they scored on their second shot of the game. Sophomore John Laliberte teed up the puck for freshman Kenny Roche in the right-wing faceoff circle, and Roche beat Eagle goalie Matti Kaltiainen with a wicked wrister high on the glove side.
BC teed off on Fields for the rest of the period. The Eagles dominated on a power play starting at 5:28, as BU couldn’t clear the zone. Finally, Patrick Eaves took a shot from the point ticketed for the net, but Fields flashed a vintage glove save to halt play at 6:32.
At 11:19, BC defenseman Greg Lauze had another good chance from the point, but Fields made another glove save despite being jostled by his own defensemen in the crease.
Fields’ play and the scoreboard were the only good news for BU, as the Terriers were outshot by a whopping 18-5 for the first 20 minutes.
The Terriers managed to slow the bleeding on the shot chart in the second period. In fact, neither team had a shot over the first six minutes.
The Terrier faithful had a scare during the ninth minute of the period. After the Eagles won a faceoff in the Terrier zone, Andrew Alberts drove to the net from the point, virtually uncontested. Fields made the initial save but lost his stick in the process, and the Eagles had two or three chances before Fields smothered it.
BU’s only strong chance came at 9:00, when Bryan Miller set up David Van der Gulik in the slot, only to have Kaltiainen make a nice blocker save. Fields also gloved a blistering shot from Alberts at 10:30. In general, Fields was gloving shots or squeezing them for the whistle; he yielded few rebounds.
In the third, it didn’t take long for BC to pick up where it left off. Voce had a pair of chances in the first 40 seconds. On a power play at 5:00, BC had its best chance of the night to that point — Shannon’s shot hit the stick-side post, hit Fields’ leg, then hit the post a second time before Fields kicked it aside.
The Eagles then appeared to tie it at 6:06. From behind the goal line, Brian Boyle set up J.D. Forrest for a 20-footer that finally beat Fields. But referee Scott Hansen waved off the goal because Adam Pineault’s skate was in the crease as the puck went in, and the BU fans went crazy when it was announced.
Almost inevitably, though, BC tied it. The first goal had come 3:30 into the game; this one came with 3:30 left. With Ty Hennes and Brad Zancanaro struggling around a loose puck just outside the crease, BC winger Murphy finally swept the puck at the net. Fields blocked it, but Hennes banged it home in a crowd for just his second goal of his senior season, but the biggest of his college career.
The teams went into overtime despite a lopsided 41-12 shot margin for the Eagles through 60 minutes.
“That wasn’t quite the game we wanted to play,” Parker said, noting that BU outshot BC the last time they played. “It was a weird game for us, playing that conservative, but we were having success with it, so we kept it up.”
In the overtime, BC had an amazing chance at 2:30 — a three-on-one opportunity. David Spina threaded the pass to Shannon at the far post, but he missed a golden opportunity for a tap-in, going just wide.
Tony Voce forced a Tom Morrow penalty at 4:36, driving hard to the net until Morrow hooked him to stop the scoring bid. The Eagles finally made the power play pay off with Murphy’s game-winner.
“Our whole team was confident we could get this game and put 110 percent into it,” Fields said. “We put our hearts on the line, and to come up short just breaks your heart. It’s very disappointing.”
“My hat’s off to Sean,” York said. “I don’t think I’ve played in many tournaments where the MVP has been on a losing team, but tonight that was the right choice.”
The Terriers (8-12-6) travel to Merrimack on Thursday night and Providence on Saturday, while the Eagles (21-3-4) play a home-and-home against Massachusetts this weekend.