Northeastern hangs on to down Boston College, claim second straight Beanpot championship

 (Tim Brule)
Northeastern defeated Boston College 4-2 to win the 2019 Beanpot championship Monday night at TD Garden (photo: Melissa Wade).

BOSTON — It took 30 years for Northeastern to win a Beanpot.

And suddenly, it seems like the Huskies are the kings of the Boston’s great college hockey tournament.

With fans packing every allotted section and flowing into multiple others throughout the TD Garden, Huskies nation seemingly willed their team to back-to-back championships for the first time since 1984-85, returning the magic of the yearly tournament of Beantown to Huntington Avenue.

That said, it was hardly a cakewalk.

The Huskies skated to a 3-0 lead before Boston College stormed back with two goals in the middle of the third period.

But a Zach Solow goal with 5.8 seconds remaining cliched a 4-2 for Northeastern, and sent the Huskies faithful into pure jubilation for the second consecutive year though for only the sixth time in the 67-year history of the tournament.

“It’s incredible, a great feeling to get a win in this tournament as a senior,” said NU captain Eric Williams. “It’s an amazing feeling and not something you’re easily going to forget. I wish I could play in this tournament every year until the day I die.”

The drama of Williams statement easily could be a reflection of the years of struggle that his Huskies had in the Boston showdown. For a tournament that began in 1952, Northeastern didn’t win it until 1980. And then after winning again in 1984, 1985 and 1988, the Huskies’ shelves were dormant a Beanpot trophy again until last February.

So forgive Huskies nation if going back to back makes them celebrate a little bit more than the average champion.

“I always talk about how we keep elevating our program around town and we have the three 800-pound gorillas in Chestnut Hill and Cambridge and on the other side of Fenway Park,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “They’ve had a lot of success in this tournament, particularly two of those three.

“For us to continue to grow out program, we needed to win a back-to-back. Next year, we need to win three [in a row]. We’ve never won three. The challenge to the group is three.

“It’s a tough tournament. For a four-team tournament, you’d think it is easy to get to the championship. It’s hard.”

And it was hard on Monday, no doubt.

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It appeared that Northeastern’s opponent on the evening struck first as Boston College celebrated a would-be goal at 6:15 of the first. As BC’s Oliver Wahlstom and Northeastern’s Jordan Harris crashed the Huskies net, the puck appeared to cross the line before the net was dislodged.

The call on the ice, though, was no goal. But, according to BC coach Jerry York, a problem with the video replay system prevented the on-ice officials from viewing the play afterwards.

“The ref said he had no video on the box,” said York, referring to the video monitor in the penalty box that typically allows the officials to review on-ice calls. “He said they had to make the call from up above and they went with the call on the ice.”

York wouldn’t make that a contention point after the game and praised the referees after noting that in a game of that magnitude, they let the players play, calling only one penalty on each team.

The eventful first period where Northeastern held a 14-12 shot advantage eventually yielded a goal to the Huskies.

A shot from the outside ended up loose in the crease where Austin Plevy, a senior transfer from Massachusetts playing in his first Beanpot, poked home a loose puck to put the Huskies in the lead with 38.8 seconds remaining in the first.

That goal didn’t propel too much of a jump start to the second, though, but in a very evenly-played period, Northeastern found a way to extend the lead late. Patrick Schule became open in the left slot and fired a shot short-side on Joseph Woll (31 saves) at 17:54 to put the Northeastern hopeful in a state of waiting.

A third goal at 1:25 of the third by Lincoln Griffin seemingly gave comfort that Northeastern could celebrate yet again.

Cue the Eagles explosion.

David Cotton notched his team-leading 16th goal of the season at 4:09. And JD Dudek’s goal, set up by Cotton, with 7:46 left brought the BC faithful to their feet for the remainder.

That’s when the little things kicked in for the Huskies. Blocked shots, small chips, clears from in front of the net – those ended up being the final piece of the formula for Northeastern to go back to back.

“Everybody bought and committed to do the little things,” said Northeastern goaltender Cayden Primeau (33 saves), who in addition to winning the Eberle Award as the tournament’s top goaltender, also took home Most Valuable Player honors. “That’s what makes teams successful. That’s what make us successful to come out on top.”

With six Beanpot titles, Northeastern still only owns one-fifth of the tournament-leader Boston University’s 30 championships. But on this Monday in February, that doesn’t matter.

“Not having won it in so long, there was pressure [to win one],” said Williams. “Everyone coming into the tournament every year was so eager to break that streak.

“Being able to do that last year got us to experience that feeling. We just wanted to experience that feeling again this year and every year going forward.”