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No surprises at The Garden as BU, BC win their way to Beanpot championship

Posted by Alex Pearlman  February 8, 2012 08:58 AM

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beanpot 2012.jpgBy Janssen McCormick

Before the puck dropped on the 60th annual Beanpot at TD Garden this past Monday night, you could almost sense that no. 5-ranked Boston College playing no. 1-ranked Boston University for the championship -- and Harvard and Northeastern taking part in yet another early consolation game -- was an inevitability. The semifinal games were just there to set up the 21st Beanpot finals clash between the two rivals.

Boston College v. Northeastern: After the late game, a rematch of last year's BC v. Northeastern Beanpot final, Huskies head coach Jim Madigan provided the best summary of the 7-1 routing: “We got schooled -- bad,” mostly thanks to Reading native Steven Whitney, who notched two shorthanded goals and one assist, and freshman Johnny Gaudreau, also with two goals and an assist. The latest in BC's long line of undersized, over-skilled forwards, Gaudreau was the best player on the ice for multiple stretches, forcing turnovers and creating chances.

The Huskies found themselves in a hole early, with Paul Carey putting BC on the board at 5:14 of the first and Gaudreau making it a two-goal lead with his 10th of the year before the period's halfway mark, but Northeastern converted a two-man advantage into a perfect one-timer from Anthony Bitetto at 12:34 and carried that momentum into the first intermission. Still, as close as the first period had been, BC dominated the second, capitalizing on NU's mental lapses, and Whitney becoming the first Eagle to score two shorties in a game since Nathan Gerbe did it in 2007.

Trailing 5-1 after two, Madigan started the third period by replacing Chris Rawlings with Clay Witt in net, acknowledging Witt's strong play in practice and the need to keep Rawlings fresh for Friday’s Hockey East matchup at UNH. BC's supporters were also looking forward to the next contest, chanting, “We want BU” throughout the third. Carey book-ended the scoring with his second of the night at 17:20 of the third.

Boston University v. Harvard: BU and Harvard played in the early game to a nearly empty building -- an atmosphere that fostered listless play, with Terriers head coach Jack Parker noting that, despite his team's 3-1 win, “neither team seemed to be that engaged.” Until Harvard's push during the third period, when they outshot BU 10-6, both teams seemed to be sleepwalking, even after BU took control early.

The Terriers went up at 8:14 of the first on Matt Nieto's 11th goal of the year, a slick wraparound assisted by Alex Chiasson and Sean Escobedo. Despite their best-in-the-nation power play, the Crimson had trouble moving the puck through the neutral zone on their first two attempts and managed only three shots total while going 1-4 on the man advantage.

Wade Megan took over the Terriers goal-scoring lead with his 13th and 14th tallies of the year during the second period; he's bounced around on different lines thanks to injuries but has nicely established himself as a top-six forward since December. But it was goaltender Kieran Millan who carried the Terriers into the finals and a shot at their 30th Beanpot title with a 29-save performance, including the save of the night on Colin Blackwell's shorthanded breakaway attempt. That save effectively sapped Harvard's momentum until late in the third period, and once the Crimson found their legs in the last frame, Millan kept them from making it a one-goal game while BU struggled to get shots on goal.

***
The teams will be back at it next Monday, with Northeastern and Harvard playing the consolation game at 4:30 p.m., marking 19 years since the Beanpot last left Comm Ave. In the championship game, BU will shoot for their 30th title while the Eagles attempt to three-peat for the first time since 1963-1965. For what it's worth, BU holds the edge in finals play against BC 12-8, although BC beat the Terriers the last time they met in the 2010 final.

Photo by curt.lewellyn (Flickr)

About Janssen -- I'm a public school teacher and music critic. I also teach adult ESL classes through a volunteer organization in Boston's Chinatown. So right off the bat you can guess my progressive bent in areas of education and immigration policy. Beyond the political, I've been attending DIY shows since I was 14 or so, getting heavily involved in Boston's metal scene. I've also been a subject of a 'Village Voice' cover story, which was sort of fun in a "through the looking glass" sort of way.

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