B.U. Bridge is published by the Boston University Office of University Relations.
Terriers shoot for seventh straight Beanpot championship
By Brian Fitzgerald
Don't look for the ghosts of Beanpots past to invade Boston's FleetCenter during this year's tournament championship on Monday, February 12.
BU men's hockey coach Jack Parker may be proud of the fact that his team has won six straight Beanpot trophies, but he doesn't think this gives the Terriers any advantage against Boston College in the Beanpot final.
The string of titles "doesn't mean anything" when you're facing the number-two team in the nation. "You don't win games on last year's sweat," Parker says. "We'd better be prepared to sweat this Monday, or we're going to get hammered."
Parker was happy with his team's effort in the 6-4 victory over Northeastern in the tournament's semifinal February 5 -- until BU let the Huskies back in the game. "It was almost two different games," he says. BU's Brian Collins (CAS'03) scored three goals, and Captain Carl Corazzini (CAS'01) added one more for a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead. "I thought we played really well in the first half," says Parker. "I felt we were very much in control. We were playing quickly. We were poised on the puck. It was 3-1, 4-1, and it looked pretty good. And all of a sudden the referee got involved a little, and it was power play after power play."
BU lived by the power play, scoring its first three goals with a man advantage, and almost died by the power play when Northeastern closed the gap to 4-3 after two untimely BU penalties. "Northeastern should get a lot of credit," says Parker. The Huskies "could have packed it in. But they kept chipping away and chipping away."
Nick Gillis (MET'01) scored with just 1:22 left in the second period to give BU a 5-3 lead and some breathing room, but then the Terriers seemed determined not to make it easy for goaltender Jason Tapp (CAS'02). Northeastern enjoyed a five-on-three power play halfway through the third period, and it took the Huskies just 10 seconds to score, cutting the lead to one, 5-4, and sending what was left of the Northeastern crowd into a frenzy. A snowstorm and the likelihood of BU's 14th straight Beanpot victory had prompted hundreds to head for the exits in the final stanza, but Northeastern didn't quit.
The weather brought back memories of the Blizzard of '78. That fateful storm had started during the semifinals 23 years ago and turned Boston Garden into an emergency shelter when many fans discovered that they couldn't leave because the streets were impassable. BU won the Beanpot championship that year also. The game during the near-blizzard of '01, however, reminded Parker of the 1983 Beanpot semifinal game against Northeastern, when BU had a 3-0 lead and the crowd left. But Northeastern scored four straight goals and had the last laugh. "I was hoping the crowd would stick around this time," says Parker.
The vocal fans who stayed rallied around Tapp, who made his first Beanpot appearance. After two years as a backup to standouts Michel Larocque and Rick DiPietro, Tapp entered the game with a 2-4 record and a 4.07 goals-against average. But the native of Kelowna, British Columbia, showed why he was named his Canadian Junior League team's MVP before donning a Terrier uniform. Tapp made outstanding saves throughout the game, giving up goals only while shorthanded or on rebounds. "Jason stood tall in the third period when we needed it the most," says Parker.
Like a fisherman with three 10-pound basses in his boat, BU high-scorer Collins talks about the ones that got away, including a puck he flipped over an empty net when the game was scoreless.
"To tell you the truth, I thought I scored on that one," he says. "I thought it went just under the crossbar. Then I'm thinking, 'Where did the puck go?' And right after that, I had another really good chance." But it turned out to be his night after all. "I was hoping I'd get some some breaks," he says. "Fortunately, I did."
Collins came close to having a five-goal game, which would have put him in the company of Boston College's Brian Gionta, who rocked the college hockey world January 27 when he scored a handful of goals in the first period of the Eagles' 7-2 victory over Maine. BU will have to keep a keen eye on Gionta, who has scored 12 points in his last five games. In six Beanpot games, he has three goals and two assists.
In terms of past BU-BC Beanpot tournament matchups, the Terriers have the upper hand by far. BC has beaten BU in the final just once since 1965. But BC is lighting the lamp often this year, with three players in the top three Hockey East scoring slots.
"We're going to have to play great defense," says Parker. "If it's a high-scoring game, we're going to be on the wrong end of it. They're capable of doing that to anyone, not just us."
But Parker doesn't dread a Terriers-Eagles showdown. In fact, he relishes such an opportunity. "A BU-BC final is a little more exciting for everyone involved," he says. And even after six straight Beanpot titles, winning the opening round is never taken for granted. The win over Northeastern was a hard-fought victory. "I'd like to play anybody in the Beanpot final," Parker says. "But it means a little more if you win the Beanpot by beating BC."
Read the sidebar "BU women's ice hockey team: Terrier rough and tough"