This story was published in the BU Bridge on February 18, 2005.
Ice hockey may be the “fastest game on earth,” but when a player has a scoring bid on a nearly empty net — especially in overtime in the Beanpot tournament final — time seems to grind to a stop.
With Northeastern goaltender Keni Gibson out of position, Chris Bourque (CAS’08) took a loose puck and faced an open goal that seemed wider than a garage door. “I don’t know where the goalie was, but he wasn’t in the net,” says Bourque. “I just saw the puck sitting there and my eyes lit up.”
Some people perceive stressful situations, like an impending car accident, in slow motion. That was the case in sudden-death overtime at the FleetCenter on February 14. Bryan Miller (CAS’05) streaked with the puck down the left side toward Gibson, who stopped his shot. But Miller was able to toss the rebound out front toward a barreling Bourque.
Would the son of former Boston Bruins star Ray Bourque be able to shoot the puck home and launch a massive celebration? Would he whiff? Like the pivotal scene of a Brian DePalma film, the action appeared to unfold in ultraslow motion. Bourque grabbed the puck and prepared for a backhander. The crowd collectively gasped. Some fans’ jaws dropped, others’ jaws were clenched. Huskies followers winced. Bourque shot, scored, skated behind the net, and was mobbed by his teammates. Gibson lay face-down on the ice in total dejection.
In bringing home its 26th Beanpot in 53 years with the 3-2 victory, BU continued its unequaled success in the tournament (nine titles in the past 11 years alone), after losing to Boston College, 2-1, in last year’s overtime final. But the Terriers didn’t play with the finesse they displayed in, for example, the 1996 final. BU slammed Northeastern, 11-4, that year in the Beanpot’s most lopsided championship game. Fast-forward to the second round of the 2005 tournament, when the Huskies, determined to bring the trophy to Huntington Avenue for the first time since 1988, simply outplayed the Terriers.
“We really dodged a bullet,” says Coach Jack Parker. BU was flat from the start, forcing goaltender John Curry (CAS’07), making his first appearance since separating a shoulder on January 27, to make 10 saves in the opening period. Miller and Brian McConnell (MET’05) put BU up, 2-0, but the Terriers were constantly beaten to the puck during the rest of the game. Northeastern cut the deficit to one in the second period and then tied the game with 2:05 left in regulation. “We were playing not to lose,” says Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97). “We were uptight, and I didn’t know how to get us out of it.”
Enter Bourque, charging down the slot in the extra session. His father had scored the overtime winner in the 1996 NHL All-Star Game, earning MVP honors. Like father, like son — the younger Bourque’s overtime heroics brought him the MVP of the Beanpot tournament. “Just thinking about playing on the same ice surface that my father did was just amazing,” he says.
The game-winner was also a cure for Bourque’s recent scoring drought. “That goal was good for Chris’ confidence,” says Parker. “That’s not to say he doesn’t have confidence. He certainly does. It was just that the puck wasn’t going in for him. He was a bit frustrated. He certainly got a good one tonight.”