In one of the most heartbreaking losses in recent BU hockey history, the Terriers lost last night’s Beanpot championship game to the Boston College Eagles 3-2 in an overtime stunner.
For 79 minutes and 54 seconds, the Terriers—who entered the game as the second-ranked team in the nation—and the Eagles—ranked number three—were dead even. But with just 6.4 seconds remaining in overtime, BC’s Bill Arnold beat Terrier goalie Kieran Millan (MET’12). It was the Eagles’ third consecutive Beanpot trophy.
Millan was outstanding all night, stopping 44 of the 47 shots on goal levied at him and winning the award for best goalie in the Beanpot. But thanks to myriad penalties and some sloppy early play, the Terriers will have to wait another year to try and bring home their 30th Beanpot title. They last won the tournament in 2009.
The Terriers were outplayed badly in the first 15 minutes, and their lackluster beginning cost them. After several close calls and some physical play by the Eagles, BU finally appeared to catch a break when Quinn Smith was called for boarding on forward Evan Rodrigues (SMG’15) with 7:38 gone in the first. Rodrigues appeared shaken up on the play and went into the locker room, but returned soon after.
The Terriers have excelled on special teams all season, but some sloppy passing led to a turnover in their own zone. BC quickly capitalized, and Pat Mullane scored his fourth goal of the season at 8:54, beating Millan to his right. Eagles’ leading scorer Chris Kreider was credited with the assist, moving him into a tie for 14th place nationally in points in Division 1 hockey.
Mullane’s score was the first shorthanded goal the Terriers had allowed all season—a distinction they shared only with Michigan headed into last night’s game.
Both teams committed two more penalties before the period ended. First, defenseman Max Nicastro (CGS’11, MET’13) and Eagles forward Steven Whitney went to the box for roughing at 11:53.
Neither team did much during the 4-on-4, but in the penalty’s waning seconds the Eagles drove hard to BU’s net, resulting in a hooking penalty on forward Wade Megan (CGS’11, MET’13).
The Eagles’ power play didn’t last long, though, thanks in large part to Terrier captain Chris Connolly (MET’12), who made a nice move at center ice to get the puck around Eagles defenseman Brian Dumoulin. Rather than let Connolly skate in and get a clear shot on BC goalie Parker Milner, Dumoulin opted to take him out of the play with a tripping penalty, creating another 4-on-4. Neither team scored for the remainder of the period, and the Eagles went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
The Terriers played with more intensity and precision in the second period, but any advantage was wiped out by some mind-bogglingly undisciplined play. The Terriers committed six penalties in the period, and their 20th-ranked penalty-kill rate of 86.6 afforded the Eagles too many opportunities.
BC was first gifted with 1:51 of 5-on-3 play after Garrett Noonan (CGS’12) and Connolly committed penalties within nine seconds of each other with 9:35 gone in the period.
The Eagles fought to take the lead, but outstanding shifts by a penalty-kill unit comprising Adam Clendening (MET’14), Sean Escobedo (SMG’13), and Cason Hohmann (CAS’15) consistently blocked shots. Millan was spectacular as well, and the Eagles were unable to score during their two-man advantage.
Nearly as soon as the Terriers killed the second penalty, however, Ryan Ruikka (CAS’12) was sent to the box for interference at 12:24.
This time it was Megan, who scored two goals against Harvard in the Beanpot first round, playing hero. After blocking a shot by Eagle captain Tommy Cross, Megan outhustled Cross to the puck, unleashed a major check against an Eagle defender, and then drew a hitting from behind penalty on Eagles assistant captain Paul Carey.
The Eagles prevented the Terriers from scoring during the resulting 4-on-4, but weren’t so lucky on the ensuing power play. With 15:11 gone in the second, Noonan found the net on a beautiful pass from Matt Nieto (CGS’12). Terrier assistant captain Alex Chiasson (CAS’13) was awarded an assist as well.
But less than 30 seconds after Noonan’s goal, he committed a tripping penalty to give BC yet another power play. Near the end of that penalty-kill, with 18:12 gone in the second, Escobedo followed with a cross-check, earning him two minutes in the box as well.
The Terriers escaped the few seconds of 5-on-3 play, but not the entirety of Escobedo’s penalty time. After some solid saves by Millan, Kreider was left wide open in front of the blue line and smashed one into the BU net for a 2-1 BC lead.
Connolly then added insult to injury, receiving a game misconduct and 10 minutes in the box.
The period ended without further incident, and in the game’s third act, it was the Eagles giving the Terriers a golden opportunity.
With 5:58 gone in the third, Whitney took his second turn in the box, this time for high-sticking. Carey returned to the box for boarding 13 seconds later, giving the Terriers 1:47 of 5-on-3 play.
They needed just 61 seconds of it. After Clendening launched a rocket from midway through the Eagles’ zone, Noonan was there to clean up the rebound, netting his second goal of the game. Chiasson once again got an assist, and the Terriers tied the game at 2-2.
The remainder of the third period brought some near misses and questionable calls for both teams. Millan made an especially spectacular save with 11:11 gone, and Chiasson and Escobedo both contributed fine defensive plays, helping to keep the game tied and send it into overtime.
The men’s team worked hard to avoid the same type of crushing overtime loss the women’s team was handed by Northeastern 4-3 last week. For most of the period, it appeared as though they’d be successful.
Connolly nearly ended the game’s extra period before it really began, unleashing a spinning shot on Milner with a few seconds gone. But Milner proved tough, as he would all period, thwarting additional close calls by Megan and Chiasson, among others.
Millan was equally outstanding, making some highlight reel saves on Dumoulin and others, but was left helpless against Arnold’s last-second volley. Whitney received an assist on the play, and the Eagles left the ice holding the Beanpot Trophy for the third straight year.
The Terriers will try to get back on an even keel when they take on the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Friday night.
The BU men’s hockey team play next on Friday, February 17, at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The Terriers’ next home game will be Saturday, February 18, also against UMass Lowell, at Agganis Arena at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the game are $24 for the general public, $16 for students, faculty, and staff with a valid school ID. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time here or one hour before game time at Agganis Arena.