Beanpot Tournament
championship game pits
BU vs. Northeastern,
Monday, February 11,
8 p.m., at the FleetCenter
Week of 8 February 2002 · Vol. V, No. 22


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The Beanpot beat
Grooming for Huskies after defeathering Eagles

By Brian Fitzgerald

Someone should call the National Audubon Society, because a few Boston University players have been hunting Eagles


John Sabo (MET'03) fakes out BC goaltender Matti Kaltiainen. Photo by Sarah Zenewicz (CAS'02, COM'02)


The alleged perpetrators are John Sabo (MET'03) and Mike Pandolfo (MET'02), looking guilty as charged following BU's 5-3 victory over Boston College in the first round of the 2002 Beanpot Tournament at the FleetCenter February 4. Sabo (two goals) and Pandolfo (one goal, two assists) are two big reasons why BC was unable to defend its Beanpot title this year.

But Sabo and Pandolfo aren't the only culprits. Also accused of poaching are Jack Baker (CAS'05) and Ryan Whitney (CAS'05), who each scored a goal. Whitney, however, is expected to plead innocent because he never touched the puck on his third period goal -- he simply poked the arm of Eagle defenseman Brett Peterson, who was trying to send the puck around to the other side of the BC goal. Instead, it went past goaltender Matti Kaltiainen, off the far goalpost, and into the net, breaking a 2-2 tie at 6:05.

"That goal hurt them, momentum-wise," says Pandolfo. "Giving up a fluke goal like that, off your own player, will get you down for a little bit." Sabo increased BU's lead to two when he finished a drop feed from Brian McConnell (CGS'03) about two minutes later. The Eagles cut the lead to one at 7:55, but Pandolfo scored an empty netter with 11 seconds left, ensuring a BU-Northeastern final on February 11.

Boston University seems to take it up a notch when playing BC. Asked if advancing to the Beanpot final was more important than beating Boston College, Coach Jack Parker says, "It's a bigger incentive to beat BC, even if you were playing at the Skating Club of Boston at three a.m." The fact that the Terriers defeated the defending national champion in a prime-time game -- part of a historic hockey tournament with 17,565 watching -- makes the victory all the more sweet. It's one thing to win two of three games in a regular-season series against your biggest rival, which BU did this year. It's another to send them to the Beanpot consolation game.

Sabo and Pandolfo have been particularly deadly against Boston College throughout their hockey careers. Sabo has 5 goals in 10 games versus the Eagles, Pandolfo 4 goals and 8 assists in 15 games. That killer instinct was evident in Sabo's first Beanpot goal, a rebound of a Pandolfo shot when BU was shorthanded. "I saw Mike pick up the puck and knew he was going to shoot," he says. "I just went to the net, got a good bounce, and then I put it under [Kaltiainen's] right arm. I was in the right place at the right time."

  Eagles surround Frantisek Skladany (MET'04), who scored two goals in last year's Beanpot. Photo by Jenny Ahlen (CAS'02)

Aside from the satisfaction of unseating BC, BU was also eager for a return of its past dominance of the tournament, a dominance that has caused some Boston sports journalists to call the Beanpot "the BU Invitational." The tournament opener was a rematch of last year's title game, which BC won, 5-3.

By emerging victorious, the Terriers ensured that they would make the finals for the 18th time in the past 19 years. BU has played in 35 of the last 39 title games, and in 41 of the tournament's 50 title games. Boston University has won 23 Beanpot championships, the most of the four colleges in the tournament.

Sabo and Pandolfo know that Terrier fans have grown accustomed to their team winning the trophy -- eight times in the 1990s. "John and I grew up watching the Beanpot," says Pandolfo. "And now we know that it's our chance to achieve the same success." Sabo says that "tradition makes the Beanpot exciting. Every time you step on the ice is a chance to make history."

Sabo's small size is deceptive. At 5 feet, 8 inches and 175 pounds, he hits like the big guys. BC, still smarting from his recruiting snub of the college, watched in horror at the FleetCenter when he slammed into Ryan Murphy -- knocking him to the ice -- as the BC forward prepared to take a shot. He also upended 6-foot, 4-inch defenseman Andrew Alberts. Then Sabo took a McConnell pass and deked Kaliainen for BU's fourth and decisive goal. "I faked the long side and came back on the short side," he says. "The goalie fell for the fake." Sabo then tripped over Kaliainen and slid headfirst into the goal -- another move the Eagles didn't appreciate.

Parker says that Sabo is returning to the scoring potential he showed as a rookie, when he tallied 8 goals and 10 assists. Last year his production slipped to six goals and eight assists. But so far this season he has seven goals and nine assists, with six games to go. "It looks like Sabo is out of his scoring slump," says Parker. "He's moved the puck well. I told him a couple of games ago that he's starting to play the way he did his freshman year -- a little bit more loosey-goosey."

Sabo, who led the team with 89 penalty minutes his freshman year, is also committing fewer infractions. And although he's cut down on the retaliatory shenanigans, he's still hitting hard. Sabo says that he just wants to contribute "any way I can."

Parker is now focusing on a Northeastern team that hasn't won the 'Pot since 1988, but was able to blast Harvard, 5-2, in the opening round. "The last time we played, they beat us 3-0," says Parker. "We'll have our hands full against them."


8 February 2002
Boston University
Office of University Relations