Boston College embraces Beanpot pressure; Boston University lives a nightmare

BOSTON — For the last four-plus seasons, Boston College has been a lot better than archrival Boston University.

But when they’ve played in the Beanpot during that span, the Eagles have consistently been just a little better than the Terriers. In 2010, BC eked out a 4-3 over BU in the championship game. The next year, it was a 3-2 BC win in overtime in the opening round, followed by another 3-2 overtime win in the 2012 championship game.

Beanpot 2014

Semifinals: Feb. 3

No. 11 Northeastern 6, Harvard 0 | Does Northeastern finally have the stuff of Beanpot champions?

No. 2 Boston College 3, Boston University 1 | Boston College embraces Beanpot pressure; Boston University lives a nightmare

Feb. 10

Third place: Harvard 6, Boston University 2

Championship: Boston College 4, Northeastern 1 | Once again, Boston College finds another gear to extend Beanpot stranglehold | For Northeastern, more than a quarter-century of close calls but no Beanpot titles

On the opening night of the 2014 Beanpot, you’d have to say that BC was once again the better team — but not by much. With great goaltending from Thatcher Demko, a terrific snipe by Ryan Fitzgerald and a world-class assist by Bill Arnold to set up the eventual game winner by Kevin Hayes, there was a lot to like about the Eagles. They’re in a position to win a program-best fifth Beanpot in a row next week, which would be one less than BU’s record of six straight from 1995 to 2000.

On the other hand, BU hit two pipes in the third period. While killing a five-minute major, the Terriers had a pair of terrific short-handed chances. And when it came down to pulling the goalie, Demko had to make a great save with 47 seconds left when Kevin Duane redirected an Evan Rodrigues shot.

Once again, though, BC found a way to win.

“I’ll have nightmares about this one for a while,” BU co-captain Garrett Noonan said. “It always stinks losing to BC. But [my teammates are] young guys; they’re going to win a lot of Beanpots, and this program’s heading in the right direction.”

Likewise, BU coach David Quinn was left shaking his head over one of those pipes hit with Matt Lane and Duane buzzing around a mostly empty net.

“Lane and Duane — sounds like a law firm — were whacking and hacking at it,” Quinn said. “I still can’t believe it didn’t go in.”

In the end, though, Quinn was philosophical about BC’s recent dominance of the early February classic.

“It’s been cyclical, really, if you think about it,” Quinn said. “BU had that great stretch in the ’90s, and BC has turned that tide a lot except for that great season we had in ’09. …

“You’ve just got to keep recruiting great players. The future’s very bright with what we have here. We have a great nucleus, and I’m very confident with what we have coming. Ironically, I remember Jerry’s first three years at BC when I was at Northeastern. I don’t think he was over .500, but it didn’t take long for Jerry to turn it around like everyone knew he would to be a premier if not the premier college hockey program in the country.”

Although no one enjoys playing in the early game on the second Monday of February, Quinn also found some consolation in how his team has built on each performance this year against one of the nation’s best programs.

“If you saw our first game against them [a 5-1 BC win that could have been much worse], it was a mismatch of epic proportions,” Quinn said. “And obviously they’re skilled — they have more talent right now. But there are many ways to win a hockey game, and we put ourselves in a position to win. But they’re the measuring stick in college hockey right now, and everyone is trying to catch them.”

When former BU coach Jack Parker was piling up consecutive Beanpot wins in the 1990s, he sometimes talked about how there was less pressure on the Terriers: If they didn’t win it in a given year, Parker figured that they’d probably win it the next year.

York maintains quite a different philosophy about BC winning it year in and year out of late.

“We tell our players an awful lot that pressure’s good for you,” York said. “It makes you get up in the morning; it makes you work harder; it makes you more alert, so we welcome pressure. We’re expected to play very, very well and win some trophies. That’s something we embrace.”

BC embraced the pressure Monday and came out on top yet again. And no one will be surprised if the Eagles are embracing another Beanpot one week later.