BOSTON — It’s been two and a half decades in the making, but Boston College can finally say it advanced past archrival Boston University to reach a Beanpot title game.
Junior Nathan Gerbe poked a loose puck at the right post over the glove of BU netminder Brett Bennett (30 saves) at 7:15 of overtime to give the Eagles their first Beanpot semifinal win over the Terriers since 1981. The Eagles will face Harvard, a 3-1 winner over Northeastern in Monday’s first semifinal, in next Monday’s championship game.
“BU has been in 13 straight Beanpot finals,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “To advance past them is a hard, hard chore for our team.”
To say that BU has owned the Eagles in Beanpot play is an understatement. The Terriers entered Monday having won 27 of 37 all-time meetings against the Eagles in the tournament, including 14 of 18 opening round meetings.
So it made sense that if the Eagles were to topple their rivals, they’d need a monumental performance from their top player, Gerbe.
Despite being invisible in the early going, Gerbe became the offensive force late. After scoring the tying goal on the power play in the third period, he lifted himself into Beanpot lore with his OT game-winner.
“[Gerbe] is as good a player as I’ve ever coached at BC,” said York. “He’s a dynamic player. He’s what college hockey is all about.”
The winning goal came on what appeared to be a somewhat harmless play. Carl Sneep started it by forcing a BU turnover at the offensive blueline, centering a pass to Brian Gibbons that deflected off the freshman forward and right to the stick of Gerbe.
“I just tried to get a quick shot off, and luckily it went over [Bennett's] glove,” said Gerbe.
The fact that the game even got to overtime seemed handwriting on the wall to the fact that BU was destined to continue its domination. Most of the sellout crowd of 17,565 thought that the Eagles had scored the go-ahead goal at 5:19 of the final period.
Andrew Orpik poked a puck into an open net with Bennett down and out. BC’s Brian Gibbons was pushed into Bennett by BU’s Dan McGoff, but after video replay the goal was disallowed. Video replay official Brendan Sheehy ruled that Gibbons was in the crease before the puck, rendering the fact that McGoff pushed him into the BU netminder moot.
“It was a huge setback,” said Gerbe of the disallowed goal. “But the coaching staff kept us composed. The thought was just to get another one.”
“We thought it was going to be a goal,” said York. “So when it was disallowed, it could’ve been a downer.”
Instead, the Eagles dominated the remainder of the third period and the overtime. The only question that seemed to remain in the Eagles’ heads was whether a bad bounce of the puck or a miscue would lead to the Terriers’ domination living on.
“The third period was not the way we would have liked [the balance of play] to have gone,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “There was too much time and play in our zone and not enough time and possession in their zone in the last half of the third period and overtime.”
A back-and-forth opening period saw the Terriers hold a 10-8 advantage in shots, but thanks to a two-goals-in-10-seconds outburst after BU had grabbed a 1-0 lead, the Eagles held a 2-1 edge through one.
BU fourth-line center John McCarthy opened the scoring at 4:40, poking a puck under BU goaltender John Muse (23 saves) after Eagles defenseman Tim Kunes had backed into the rookie goaltender, causing him to lose his balance.
The Terriers continued the offensive onslaught after the goal, but a penalty to Brian Strait for hitting from behind at 8:12 changed the momentum.
Boston College defenseman Anthony Aiello scored on the ensuing power play, firing a wrist shot through a screen and past Bennett at 9:54.
The Eagles, though, weren’t done as the center-ice faceoff led to an immediate three-on-two rush. Ben Ferriero finished things off with a quick shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Bennett five hole for the 2-1 lead.
In the second, it was all BU as the Terriers capitalized twice on the power play to take a 3-2 lead heading to the third.
Rookie Nick Bonino evened the game at 3:30, taking a pass from Kevin Shattenkirk at the right faceoff dot and roofing a shot short side on Muse to bring the BU student section to life.
After BC took back-to-back minor penalties, Carl Sneep for slashing at 6:44 and Gerbe for charging at 8:27, the Terriers’ power play connected again to regain the lead.
Pete MacArthur’s slapshot from the right point deflected off the shaft of BC defenseman Mike Brennan’s stick and over Muse for the 3-2 lead. For BC, the only consolation to the goal was the time it was scored: 8:44, the same time the first penalty expired, pushing to Eagles back to full strength.
The Eagles had ample opportunities to draw even before the end of the period, but had little in the way of puck luck. Gerbe hit the right pipe at 10:57 on a sharp-angle power-play shot. Ben Smith hit the same pipe, this one dead on, from the slot at 18:00.
Back-to-back penalties at the end of the period actually gave the Eagles a brief two-man advantage, but failure to win the offensive-zone faceoff allowed the Terriers to clear the puck and head to the third sporting the lead.
The late penalties didn’t go completely for naught. With 1:42 remaining on Bennett’s penalty for delay of game to begin the third, the Eagles struck early when Gerbe poked home a rebound of a Gibbons shot at 1:02.
After the disallowed goal, both teams traded chances, but with each goaltender holding his own the game headed to overtime.
The victory advances the Eagles to the title game for the 28th time overall. BC holds a 13-14 record all-time in championship games, and is 5-2 against Harvard in the title tilt.
Boston University will play in the consolation game against Northeastern. It’s just the 10th time in the 56-year history of the tournament that BU will play the early game on the second Monday.
“We’ve had an unbelievable run,” said Parker. “We’ve been very fortunate to come out with great efforts in the first games to get ourselves into the Beanpot finals. It’s uncharted territory for us to be in the consolation game.”