BOSTON — No championship game in the 60-year history of the Beanpot has gone to double overtime.
Thanks to Boston College’s Bill Arnold, that still holds true.
Semifinals, Feb. 6
“I wasn’t exactly sure how much time was left as we skated up the ice,” Arnold said. “You just want to make sure you don’t turn over the puck in that situation. But if you see the chance to get a shot, you’ve got to take it. The passes that were made were incredible.”
Those passes, beginning with Barry Almeida making a quick pass to Steve Whitney at the offensive blue line, then a left-to-right drop pass for Arnold sent the sophomore forward on a wide-open path to the net. Arnold’s wrister — BC’s 47th shot of the night — beat Millan over the glove to end the longest title game and send the BC portion of the 17,565 fans into pandemonium.
The victory marked the first time the Eagles — or any team not named Boston University, for that matter — has won three straight titles since 1963-65, when BC coach Jerry York was playing on the team. It also matched the longest title drought for BU, which hasn’t lost three straight years since 1983-85.
The game itself was dominated by special teams. BC finished the night 1-for-7 on the power play and scored a short-handed marker while BC was 2-for-6 with the man advantage.
“Of the five goals scored, the winning goal was the only five-on-five goal,” said York. “It was hard to score or get really terrific offensive chances five-on-five.”
The Eagles outshot BU 16-9 in a fast-paced first period. Both teams had ample Grade A chances but BC had the only goal.
Short-handed, BC’s Chris Kreider made a pass from his knees in the neutral zone that Pat Mullane took in stride. Cutting to his left around defenseman Max Nicastro, Mullane launched a wrister that beat Millan (44 saves) over the blocker at 8:52 for a 1-0 BC lead.
In the second, BC had ample chances to widen the lead with an extended five-on-three advantage midway through the frame. Pumping shots on the net, the Eagles couldn’t beat Millan.
The Terriers then got a power play with 6:23 remaining in the frame and converted to knot the game. Matt Nieto made a perfect cross-seam pass to Garrett Noonan pinching from the left point that Noonan promptly deposited past BC netminder Parker Milner (32 saves) at 15:11 to tie the game at 1-1.
More BU penalties, though, led to a second five-on-three for BC in the frame. This time, BU couldn’t stop the Eagles’ power play. Kreider ripped a perfect shot over Millan’s glove and under the crossbar at 18:42 to send the Eagles to the third with a 2-1 lead.
The Terriers got their own chance at a five-on-three power play in the third and they converted to even the game. Once again it was Noonan who found himself unmarked at the left post. Adam Clendening fed a perfect pass from the right point that the sophomore defenseman deposited into an empty net to tie things at 2-2 at 7:12.
Both teams had ample opportunities to win the game before overtime. The best may have been the last as Almeida redirected a harmless-looking shot from the point that barely went wide of the left post with 9 seconds remaining, forcing the overtime.
BC (19-10-1) not only won its third straight title but also its 17th overall. In doing so, it once again denied the Terriers (17-10-1) from reaching their 30th title, or half of all championships.
The win also evened the season series between the archrivals at two games apiece, and few would be surprised if these two teams butted heads one or even two more times in the postseason.
“I’m hoping we’re in a championship game later on and [BC] is probably hoping they are too,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “It’s a long way to get to another championship, though, that’s for sure.”