BOSTON — In what was yet another thrilling chapter in the Boston College and Boston University Beanpot rivalry, the top-ranked Eagles defeated the No. 14 Terriers behind a Tommy Cross power-play goal at 3:17 of overtime on Monday.
The Eagles will face Northeastern, a 4-0 winner over Harvard in Monday’s opening semifinal, in next Monday’s championship game. It will be just the third time in the 59-year history of the tournament that BC and Northeastern will meet in the title game, and the first time since 1983.
Boston University will play in the consolation game against Harvard, just the Terriers’ third time in the early game on the second Monday of February in the last 28 years.
Getting to overtime was a challenge for the Eagles, who trailed 2-1 entering the third before Jimmy Hayes fired a wrist shot off a BU defender past BU netminder Kieran Millan at 4:56 of the third. The Eagles then had to kill two penalties late in the third period before Cross set off the explosion along BC fans 16 seconds after Ryan Ruikka was whistled for cross-checking in overtime.
“Any successful hockey team has to have good special teams,” said Boston College associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh, filling in for head coach Jerry York after the game as the bench boss battles laryngitis. “I thought we did a nice job on the last two kills. It got a little bit helter-skelter in a 30-second swing. But Johnny [Muse] did a good job holding us down.”
Once the penalties were killed, it was BC’s turn with the man advantage, just its second of the game, in the overtime. There the Eagles wasted little time earning the victory.
The goal came on an in-zone face-off. Hayes won a draw that Brian Dumoulin tipped over to Cross. From there, the blueliner did what his coaching staff has stressed of late.
“We talk a lot about getting the pucks to the net,” said Cross. “The wingers came in and helped push it back. I just took a step to the middle. Our guys went to the net and I got a great screen. It just found its way in.”
The goal capped yet another incredible game between these two rivals on the biggest regular season stage. It was the eighth straight one-goal game played in the Beanpot between BC and BU.
The game began with both clubs sparring for the opening 14 minutes. But once the fireworks started it became an explosive first period.
BC opened the scoring at 14:37 when Philip Samuelsson netted his fourth goal of the season and third in the last two games. Patrick Wey fed across the zone to Samuelsson at the left point, and after bobbling the puck he gathered it and feathered a shot that deflected off Terriers defenseman David Warsofsky’s stick and over the shoulder of Millan (37 saves) for the 1-0 lead.
Before the Eagles portion of the sellout 17,565 fans could finish celebrating, the game was tied. Garrett Noonan made a perfect behind-the-back pass to Wade Megan, who found space on the right wing side. He fired a hard wrist shot short side on Eagles netmidner John Muse (34 saves) to knot the game at 15:15.
In the second, BC had the best of the play early and outshot BU, 16-8, in the frame. It was the Terriers, though, that scored the period’s only goal.
Corey Trivino found room alone in the slot for Ruikka to dish a feed that Trivino snapped between Muse’s legs at 2:07 for the 2-1 BU lead.
Though that was the period’s only goal, it was hardly the only action. Both teams traded breakaway bids, with BC’s Hayes missing the net at 15:00 before BU’s Alex Chiasson stuffed a breakaway bid into Muse at 17:26.
The final scoring chance of the frame was the most controversial as Pat Mullane broke in alone for BC and fired a low shot on Millan. The original shot was saved but it appeared the rebound might have crossed the goal line momentarily. The video replay from most angles was inconclusive, and the call on the ice — no goal — ultimately stood, sending BU to the third nursing a one-goal lead.
In the third, after Hayes evened things with a shot from the slot over the blocker of Millan and the Eagles killed off the two late penalties, it was BC that had the best chance to win the game in regulation.
As Samuelsson came out of the box after the second BC penalty, he took a 100-foot outlet pass and walked in alone. He tried to make a move on Millan but steered the shot into the netminder’s left pad to keep the game knotted at 2, forcing overtime.
That was when Cross, who missed 11 games earlier this season with a knee injury, got to play the role of hero when it counted.
The win for BC (20-6-0) sets up the second rarest championship game matchup behind only a Harvard-Northeastern title tilt, which still hasn’t happened in the tournament’s 59-year history. It also is a rematch, albeit 31 years later, of possibly the most legendary Beanpot title game of all time when Wayne “Beanpot” Turner scored an overtime game-winner on Feb. 11, 1980, to give Northeastern its first Beanpot title. The Eagles exacted revenge three years later, winning 8-2 in the finals.
BU (13-8-7), conversely, finds itself in unfamiliar territory, playing in the consolation game of the Beanpot for just the 11th time in 59 years.
“This was a playoff game,” said BU co-captain Joe Pereira. “It hurts [to lose]. This one stings.”