Even with Beanpot loss, things looking up for BU

A message to Terrier nation: If you want to see Boston University play in next Monday’s Beanpot, you best show up early. Even earlier than usual, in fact, as for the first time in 59 years, the Beanpot “bronze medal” game will be played at 4:30 p.m.

But, as a second message to BU fans, understand this: Your beloved Terriers are on the right path.

Yes, BU lost on Monday night. But they lost to the nation’s best team, Boston College, a team that had thumped BU thrice this season (okay, the third game was a 3-2 final, but BC controlled that game from the outset).

The game was probably one of the more inspired performances by the Terriers in this campaign. BU came out hard from the outset and fell behind but eventually regained the lead. Yes, BC rallied and eventually won in overtime, but this was a game in which the Terriers deserved better fate.

All three goals deflected off a BU defenseman. That’s simply back puck luck, if you ask me. Goaltender Kieran Millan played a heck of a game and did a great job stopping prime time chances by one of the top offenses in the country.

The only downside for BU was their power play, which has struggled often this season.

But the game, in my opinion, is a positive sign for the Terriers.

This has been one roller coaster of a year for BU. The Terriers jumped out to an impressive start, going unbeaten in their first ten games. Over that span, though, BU had just six wins and head coach Jack Parker publically admitted that the record was better than the actual performance of the team on the ice.

Once the Terriers finally dropped a game, a 5-2 loss to New Hampshire on November 19, the dominos began to fall. The next night BU got a stellar performance from Millan to steal a win from the Wildcats. But the Terriers then had to rally for a tie against Brown, got smoked on back-to-back nights by BC and, after a 5-4 win over Northeastern, got routed in the final game of the first half season at Rensselaer.

When BU returned from winter break, they hit rock bottom, losing, 6-1, to Brown at the Shillelagh Tournament in Illinois. From that game on, though, BU’s consistently improved.

A tie against Notre Dame and wins against Vermont and Harvard began the redemption. Tough, one-goal losses to Merrimack and Boston College, both games BU fell behind 3-0 before losing 3-2, were probably valuable in teaching this team more about 60 minute efforts.

And then the sun began to shine.

A win over New Hampshire followed by taking 3 of 4 points on the road at Maine returned things to normal on the east end of Commonwealth Ave.

And as much as Monday’s loss – the fourth of the season to BC – stings, one has to believe the Terriers are poised for a post-season run. Conceivably, BU has the easiest remaining schedule for the regular season. A single game versus Massachusetts, followed by two-game sets against Providence, Vermont and Northeastern complete the Hockey East slate. It’s not impossible to think that BU could take 11 or 12 points out of the available 14.

BU is currently in a three-way tie for 15th in the PairWise and by virtue of losing the RPI tie-breaker wouldn’t make the NCAA tournament if the season ended today. But picking up somewhere in the range of 8 or more wins down the stretch, all very possible when you include a quarterfinal Hockey East playoff series, should be enough to boost the Terriers to an NCAA bid.

The post-game locker room at the TD Garden on Monday night might not have been filled with positive vibes. But if BU competes with the same intensity as they did on Monday for the remainder of the season, no doubt in this writer’s mind that they will be punching the Terriers ticket for the NCAA tournament.