The Road More Or Less Traveled

A quick breath, a gasp and a moment of despair for the Eagles’ faithful.

When Boston College’s Ryan Murphy missed burying the rebound of Ryan Shannon’s shot in overtime of the Beanpot final, at least momentarily Murphy felt like the goat.

The feeling changed seconds later, when Murphy made his move from the outhouse to the penthouse. Picking up a turnover a few feet from the spot of the miss, Murphy spun, fired and watched the Beanpot game-winner fly over the glove of Boston University’s Sean Fields — returning the BC faithful to a state of pandemonium that had been missing for three years.

“I wish I could say that I tried to pick a corner on that shot,” joked Murphy, who was quick to admit that Monday’s winner was “by far” the biggest goal of his career, “but all I did was wheel and fire it.”

Regardless, BC’s 2-1 overtime victory catapulted Eagle spirits and maybe even exorcised a demon, or two or three, given the fact that BC knocked off BU, its archrival and overall owner of the Beanpot with 25 championships, to win the title.

“You want to win over BU, no matter when you’re playing them,” said BC senior Tony Voce, a member of the BC senior class that is the first since the class of 1967 to take home two Beanpots. “They call this the ‘BU Invitational,’ but I won this thing two years ago, so in my era, they’re not too big.”

Whether or not you believe that BU holds a hex, a psychological advantage, or just a little more luck, Monday sure seemed that way for the most of the 66-plus minutes.

As BC dominated the Terriers, eventually outshooting them, 52-13, everything from a hot goalie (Fields finished the game with 50 saves), numerous posts (the Eagles hit a total of four, not including a Murphy shot in overtime that missed an open net off the pipe) and even video replay — which disallowed an apparent Eagle tying goal late in regulation — made it seem that, once again, the Beanpot’s forefathers still favoring the Terriers from a land high above the FleetCenter.

But BC had the stick-to-it-ness. There was no deflation. There was no quit. And there was no frustration.

In the end, you can talk about great goals, lucky breaks and everything else, but it was the Eagles’ ability to remain focused that allowed them to skate around the ice with the unpolished serving dish that, on this night, seemed more like a Pot o’ Gold.

“I thought one of our key parts of our team was handling the frustration of dealing with a hot goaltender with a 1-0 deficit, a goal called back and still keeping our poise,” said BC head coach Jerry York, who Monday matched legendary Eagle coach Len Ceglarski with his second Beanpot title.

“When we got the goal called back, it didn’t deflate our sails at all,” said hero Murphy of J.D. Forrest’s apparent tying goal with 13:54 remaining that was disallowed when replay showed that Adam Pineault’s skate was in the crease as the puck flew past Fields. “We actually played harder after that.

“We knew after we got the first one, we went into the overtime pretty confident. Sean Fields played incredible tonight, but we were able to slip two by him all because of hard work.”

Now with demons partially exorcised, the Eagles have to concentrate on bigger things. The other three clubs in the tournament — all of which entered with below-.500 records — would have considered a Beanpot victory a Stanley Cup-like highlight this season; but for BC, the Beanpot is a checkmark on a long list of accomplishments, with the road ahead seeming familiar.

BC had already taken the Ice Breaker and the Great Lakes Invitational before adding the Beanpot to the trophy cabinet. If that collection of hardware is to continue to grow, it will take the Eagles through the FleetCenter again — and again.

The Hockey East tournament, which annually calls the big barn on Causeway Street its home, will be coupled this year with the NCAA Frozen Four, which is any team’s goal at season’s start, but looks like a reality for the Eagles, who climbed to number-one in the poll just hours before the Beanpot title game.

“We definitely plan on doing things in this building later on in the year,” said BC captain Ben Eaves, a spectator Monday while nursing a fractured kneecap. A senior who was part of the 2001 national championship team his freshman year, he desperately wants to return to the Fleet a couple more times this season.

“There are six of us now [who have won an NCAA championship], so it would be nice to come in with one and go out with one,” smiled Eaves.

And as much as that sounds like proper athlete-speak, it was classmate Voce who said it most bluntly, and probably best:

“We have two more tournaments here. We might as well take them both.”