BOSTON — The last seven times Northeastern and Boston College faced one another, the games were decided by a goal or less.
So heading into Monday’s second Beanpot semifinal, there was reason to believe this tilt between the Huskies and Eagles could be one to remember.
Semifinals, Feb. 6
Boston College played opportunistic hockey, turning four Northeastern turnovers into transition goals, two of them shorthanded, as the Eagles routed the Huskies, 7-1, at the TD Garden to advance to next Monday’s Beanpot title game.
BC will face archrival Boston University, a 3-1 winner over Harvard, looking for its third straight Beanpot title.
Four of BC’s first five goals were a direct result of Huskies turnovers, all of which turned into BC odd-man rushes. That, though, was only part of the Huskies problem, according to their head coach.
“[BC] just beat us to pucks,” said NU coach Jim Madigan, appearing in the Beanpot as a head coach for the first time having played and been an assistant in the past. “Turnovers, we turned it over, but we were sloppy in our own zone, sloppy in front, sloppy on the power play. We just laid an egg tonight.”
Paul Carey, Johnny Gaudreau and Steven Whitney all potted two goals for the Eagles in the biggest opening-round offensive outburst since Boston University defeated Harvard by an identical 7-1 score in 1997. In all, six BC players had multi-point games.
“We’ve got some players with good offensive instincts,” said BC coach Jerry York. “If they see a loose puck, they can jump on it and make a play. They can make something out of nothing.”
The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first, taking advantage of two Northeastern turnovers at the defensive blueline.
Carey one-timed a pass from Gaudreau at 6:14 after Josh Manson gave away the puck on the breakout. Gaudreau then stripped an NU defender and walked in alone at 9:43, beating Northeastern starter Chris Rawlings (24 saves) five hole.
Northeastern cut the BC lead in half at 12:34 when, working a 5-on-3 power play, Anthony Bitetto blasted a one-timer past BC starter Parker Milner.
The Huskies had ample chances to knot the score before the end of the first and early in the second. Unable, though, the Eagles pounced and put the game away in the second.
Whitney scored the first of his two shorthanded goals at 6:51, finishing a perfect 2-on-1 with Barry Almedia after Northeastern turned the puck over at the offensive blueline.
After Gaudreau stuffed a rebound at 8:58 for a 4-1 lead, Whitney again tallied on the penalty kill this time blasting a high shot after his pass attempt to Almeida was blocked and bounced right back to his stick.
Though he finished the period, the lopsided score knocked Rawlings from the game in favor of Clay Witt (15 saves), who made just his fourth appearance of the season.
That helped little, though, as Almeida scored on the power play at 8:47, pushing a rebound off the backboards into an open net. Carey finished off the game’s scoring at 17:20.
The loss for Northeastern (11-12-3) continued futility for Huskies head coaches appearing in their first games. The previous seven NU bench bosses all lost their first Beanpot games.
The victory sends BC (17-10-1) to the Beanpot final for the 31st time and the Eagles are looking for their 17th Beanpot title. It will be the 21st time that the Eagles face BU in the title game. The Terriers hold a 12-8 advantage in the previous 20.
“Every Beanpot final is exciting,” said Whitney. “Playing BU is just a bonus.”