The Chinese certainly got it right. 2006 is indeed the Year of the Dog. 16 days after the Chinese New Year officially ushered in the celebrated canine, the Terriers of Boston University confirmed the moniker with a stirring 3-2 victory over archrival Boston College in the 54th Beanpot Tournament in front of 17,565 at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Of course, the Year of the Dog comes more frequently in Boston than it does in Beijing. The Terriers have now won 10 of 12 Beanpots since the last Chinese Year of the Dog in 1994. Altogether, they have won exactly half of the championships, with this being their 27th win in 54 years of the classic tournament.
Just 54 seconds after BC tied the game 2-2 in the third, Terrier sophomore Peter MacArthur got the game-winner on a power play. Given that he scored on a left-handed baseball swing on a puck in midair at the top of the crease, it was fitting the goal also was revealed to be a called shot.
“After they scored to tie it up, they took that penalty almost right away, and Pete came up to me,” Terrier goalie John Curry said. “He never does this, but he goes, ‘We’re going to score here.’ And I said, ‘Okay: I’ll take it.’
“And sure enough. He had a good opportunity right before [the goal], and I thought, ‘Wow, he’s really going for it.’ And then he was able to bury that one. So that was pretty cool: I couldn’t believe he actually pulled it off.”
At this point, Terrier coach Jack Parker couldn’t resist chiming in. “You didn’t point to center field, did you?” Parker wryly asked.
“I thought it was a great college hockey game,” Parker said. “I thought Boston College played extremely well in the first period, and we were back on our heels a little bit. I thought we played kind of tentative in the first period85 We really clamped down pretty good in the second and third periods, didn’t give up a lot of grade ‘A’ chances. The second period was one of our best periods of college hockey in a long, long time. And it has to be that good to hold BC to the number of shots that we held them to.”
“It was kind of a tough loss for us to look back on,” Boston College coach Jerry York said. “But I thought the second period was our undoing. The first period we had some jump, and I thought we played well. We killed three successive penalties–one was a five-on-three–we got out of that and we had a one-nothing lead.
“But then the second period we were really careless with the puck and lost a lot of one-on-one battles–especially inside the blue line. They just took control of the game in the second period.”
The first period began cautiously. Neither team had a scoring chance in the first ten minutes of the game. BU had a power play but didn’t even attempt a shot during it.
The excitement level rose significantly when BU enjoyed a second power play, which featured a great scoring chance for David Van der Gulik after a nice feed from Jason Lawrence. Cory Schneider made a great arm save. The power play then became a five-on-three for over a minute, starting at 11:20. Kenny Roche had a terrific chance, backhanding a rebound attempt that squarely hit the post before reverse five-holing Schneider on the carom.
BC finally got a man advantage of their own at 17:21, and they capitalized on a flukey goal. Senior defenseman Peter Harrold drove in on the right wing and tried to slip a low backhander under Terrier goalie John Curry. The junior appeared to smother it, only to have teammate Matt Gilroy collide with his stick slightly. That was enough to jostle the puck loose. It trickled over the goal line for a 1-0 BC lead.
The Eagles almost made it 2-0 just 32 seconds later on a similar play. Brian Boyle drove in and almost slipped a low one through Curry, but the netminder pulled his pads together to pinch the puck. BC had another good chance on their first power play of the second period. Brian Boyle redirected a shot from the point, and Curry just managed to adjust enough to make the pad save.
That set the stage for the tying goal for the Terriers at 4:07. MacArthur raced in on the right wing and pulled a nifty move slipping the puck through his own skates with a behind-the-back move before driving toward the net for the shot. Schneider stopped that one and MacArthur’s rebound, only to have Bryan Ewing bury the second rebound.
After a strong penalty kill, the Terriers took the lead almost six minutes later, thanks to their freshman line. Jason Lawrence brought the puck up the left wing and flipped a pass to Brandon Yip on his right. Yip gave it right back to Lawrence, who beat Schneider five-hole with an eight-footer.
Play proceeded to get chippy, but referee Scott Hansen let much of it go. Finally John Laliberte — a surprise starter after a knee injury threatened to keep him out of his last Beanpot — got called, though both teams could have had a penalty apiece with various roughing and cross-checking penalties going uncalled. Once again, BU’s penalty kill looked very strong, and they ended the period by going on a power play that carried over into the first 1:52 of the third period.
All that happened on that power play, though, was a good shorthanded chance for BC freshman Benn Ferriero at 1:15. With a two-on-one, the centerman elected to shoot, but Curry made the save. The action really took off in the seventh minute. At 6:24, Stephen Gionta raced in on the right wing and slid the puck toward the top of the crease, where Brian Boyle used his long reach to redirect it past Curry. But then Boyle got called for high sticking just 23 seconds later.
As a result, BU regained the lead just 54 seconds after the Eagles tied it up. On Schneider’s stick side, Ewing blasted a shot from ten feet. It caromed off of the goalie’s midsection, and MacArhtur swatted it out of a midair for the goal, which was ironically reminiscent of one by Ben Eaves against Michigan in the NCAA Regionals a few years back.
“Another thing that stood out to me is that you couldn’t possibly overestimate the answer that Peter MacArthur had after they made it 2-2,” Parker said. “That just took the wind right out of their sails. They’ve got momentum and they’re going pretty well, and bang, it took us right back to the top of our game again.
The goal was enough to clinch the Beanpot MVP honors for MacArthur, although Lawrence merited consideration with a big goal in both games. Schneider won the Eberly Trophy with a save percentage of .924 over the two Mondays. He faced 36 shots, while Curry faced only 20.
“With all the freshmen we’ve got, we’ve been working on [defense],” Schneider said. “We’re going to give up more shots with kids playing in a big game like this. All it takes is one and one made the difference tonight. Hopefully we can tighten it up a little bit more and limit the shots the rest of the way.”
The Terriers all-senior first line swarmed a few minutes later and almost gave BU a two-goal cushion, but Schneider kept it a one-goal game. Ultimately Schneider was pulled, but BC didn’t seriously threaten, and the Terriers finally could celebrate the Year of the Dog, albeit 16 days late.
“It’s a certain attitude that you carry into the Beanpot,” Curry said of BU’s remarkable string of successes in the tournament. “When the game is tight, we remember that we’ve won it so many times, so we just go out there and try to have fun, enjoy the moment, and do the best we can. Players play their best when they can do that.”
BU (18-8-2) plays New Hampshire in a home-and-home series this weekend, while BC (19-7-2) has a tough road trip with a pair of games at Maine.