BOSTON — Entering Tuesday night, Boston College had silenced the Northeastern Huskies’ dreams of a Beanpot title four straight times, thrice in a championship final.
So naturally, Huskies fans had to wait a while to get a small measure of revenge. First, through a one-day delay after a storm dumped another two feet of snow on gridlocked Boston. Then, through a 90-minute delay from the other semifinal’s double-overtime antics.
Semifinals: Feb. 3
• Third place: Boston College 3, Harvard 2 (OT)
They waited until the final 94 seconds of regulation.
Then, sheer ecstasy.
That the Huskies are even at .500 is quite the story in its own right.
That they’re on to the Beanpot championship to face Boston University? It adds to an impressive turnaround from an 0-8-1 start in November, which Huskies coach Jim Madigan said his players were convinced would turn around.
“To a man in the locker room, the guys thought we were a good team,” Madigan said. “There was no in-house bickering or bitching when losing occurred. Now, we’re growing and maturing as a team, still with a long horizon in front of us, but we’re finding ways to win smarter and later.”
Later, indeed. It was the Huskies’ 16th third-period goal in the last 11 games, and it came on a stage that rarely shows the Huskies on the winning end.
Most of the nagging problems that seem to bite Northeastern in this tournament weren’t there this time.
Ineffective power play? The Huskies scored two goals on their first three power-play chances.
Discipline problems? Boston College took each of the game’s first five penalties. Northeastern took only one all night.
Bad luck? Even when Clay Witt had trouble on a save or two, the puck squibbed wide.
Sure, the familiar bugaboos re-emerged.
The odd-man rushes piled up in the second period. The turnovers became more plentiful.
The Eagles did score a short-handed goal, which — though not as prevalent as Northeastern fans might have you believe — still strikes at the heart of deep-seated fears: that the hex hovering over this tournament would continue another year.
“When you lose games to Boston College, it does something to your confidence,” Madigan said. “A lot of the preparation going this week was the mental part — the believability, and the confidence we can beat this club. I like the way our kids showed resolve in coming up with the win.”
In the final nail-biting minutes, the unlikeliest scorer in Dustin Darou became the hero. And the Huskies finally vanquished one of their crosstown foes.
“We knew coming into the game we needed to get to three,” Madigan said. “We haven’t been able to get to three goals against [BC goalie Thatcher] Demko much in the last few years. … It took three [tonight], and obviously we got the win.”
The win snapped an eight-game winless drought against the Eagles and was only the fourth victory against BC in Northeastern’s last 23 tries.
It snapped another streak, too: Boston College’s streak of five consecutive Beanpot trophies ended before the Eagles could even fully defend their title, relegated to the consolation game for the first time since 2009.
And for the Huskies, who once again are playing with house money, it’s on to next Monday night and a collision with their bitter rivals, Boston University.
Perhaps a collision course with destiny, too.