Overtime goal makes tournament
BU wins fourth straight Beanpot Trophy
by Brian Fitzgerald
What does a college freshman from the Boston
area say after scoring the overtime goal that won
the 1998 Beanpot Tournament? "It's just a great
feeling -- the best feeling I've ever had in my
life," declared Nick Gillis (MET'01) in the raucous
Terrier locker room after BU defeated Harvard, 2-1,
in sudden-death overtime on February 9.
Of course, there are six seniors on this team
who have done it all, winning four Beanpots and a
national title in 1995. They will tell you that
nothing compares to skating around the Providence
Civic Center ice with the NCAA championship plaque.
Senior Tom Noble (COM'98) did it as a freshman
goaltender after holding Maine to just two goals.
But the seniors also know that all important
tournament play begins with the Beanpot, which
gives them a taste of the playoff-style intensity
they need in postseason games.
"I'm a senior, so I've been through this
before," says Noble, explaining how he held his
composure during one of the most dramatic Beanpot
finals in recent memory. "You've got to concentrate
as much as you can and hope that everyone else on
the team isn't jumpy -- and they weren't."
Noble's four appearances in the Beanpot have
resulted in four victories and the 1996 Eberly
Trophy, which is given to the tournament's best
goaltender. Including all regular-season winter
tournaments, Beanpots, and postseason Hockey East
and NCAA competition, Noble has compiled a 14-2
Noble, a native of Hanover, Mass., and Gillis,
from Winthrop, Mass., both having attended Beanpot
games as children, know the value of winning
Boston's most important college sports tournament.
The games don't count in the standings, but Beanpot
bragging rights are not to be taken lightly.
"We own the Beanpot!" chanted the Terrier fans
after Gillis tipped the puck past Harvard's J. R.
Prestifilippo at 5:51 of overtime, avenging Crimson
freshman Harry Schwefel's tying goal with 6:47 left
Worcester native Tom Poti (CAS'00), the
tournament's Most Valuable Player, assisted on both
Boston University goals -- the latter scored on a
BU power play. "The Harvard defenseman couldn't get
it out [of the zone]," recalls Gillis of his
overtime heroics. "When they couldn't clear, it
went out to Poti. Poti kept it in. I saw him walk
in the middle and I just wanted to get in front of
the net for a screen or a tip, and I just tipped it
However, the puck didn't just pop into the net.
Prestifilippo got a piece of it, but momentum
carried the puck into the goal. A similar
loose-puck drama had occurred behind the Harvard
goaltender during the second period, but it stopped
just short of the line. But Gillis was not to be
denied. "The puck got caught in his pads and I was
just watching it," he says. "I was hoping it would
go in." The moment lasted a millisecond, but to
Gillis it seemed like an eternity. When the puck
dribbled across the line, the FleetCenter erupted.
Gillis has plenty of praise for Poti, his
teammate at Cushing Academy. "I've been playing
with Poti for years and he surprises me more and
more," he says. "He's just a great player."
He also gives Harvard the credit it deserves.
After all, the Crimson almost won the Beanpot with
two come-from-behind overtime victories -- the
first against Boston College in the tournament's
opening round. "We knew that it would be a tight
checking game and I'm sure they wanted to try and
slow us down a little bit," says Gillis. "We just
wanted to do our best. [Harvard's players] have
been playing well recently. They had a loss against
RPI, but they played great against BC."
In the overtime session, Harvard put a scare
into BU with a couple of promising rushes. The
Crimson certainly didn't look like a team that has
a losing record. "Our boys went toe to toe with
them," says Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni, who was
inconsolable after his team's epic battle with the
number three team in the nation.
Harvard's never-say-die attitude didn't surprise
Gillis. "This is the Beanpot," he explains, "so
everybody gets pumped up."