Northeastern hockey coach Bruce Crowder had called Boston University the New York Yankees of the Beanpot. Last night, the Terriers matched their hardball counterparts with their 26th crown, showing once again why they are the Beanpot's lone empire -- evil or otherwise.
Despite being outplayed for most of the game, the Terriers beat Northeastern, 3-2, on the strength of Chris Bourque's goal at 14:10 of overtime.
"It's something that's part of the school's tradition," said BU defenseman Bryan Miller, who scored a first-period goal and initiated the rush that led to the overtime winner. "It seems like the Beanpot belongs to Boston University.
"We let it slip away last year but we knew what we had to do to come back. We tried to let the younger guys know how sweet it feels and how important it is to win it. It's back where it belongs."
While Miller kicked off the game-winning sprint, it was the freshman Bourque who banged in the rebound past goalie Keni Gibson (26 saves) to give the Terriers (18-10-2, 12-4-2 Hockey East) their 11th straight Beanpot victory over Northeastern (12-14-4, 7-8-3).
As Bourque, the Beanpot MVP, launched himself into the boards and was immediately buried by his teammates, Gibson lay face-down on the ice for several moments after the goal.
"What you saw is how he feels," Crowder said. "He left it all out there like the other seniors."
Despite that, Gibson won the Eberly Award as the goaltender with the best save percentage in the tournament.
For Northeastern, it was a sickening feeling after outworking BU throughout most of regulation. The Terriers had a two-goal lead after the first period, but Northeastern defenseman Jon Awe halved the lead at 12:38 of the second and Jared Mudryk poked in the rebound of a Tim Judy slap shot to tie it with 2:05 left in regulation.
But the Terriers, who looked jumpy in the first three periods, started skating in overtime. Brad Zancanaro had several bids, including a left-wing wrister off a cross-ice pass from John Laliberte that Gibson turned aside. Brian McGuirk, who did not play in BU's first-round win over Boston College last week, had a doorstop bid that failed to find the back of the net.
And with six minutes left in overtime, the teams skating four a side, Miller started the rush that would end in glory. As he held the puck in the BU zone, Miller noticed a forechecker skating in deep. Miller skated around his net, saw room against the left boards, and dashed up the ice.
Miller, who netted a shorthanded goal in the first period, threw a shot on net that got a piece of Gibson. As he skated by, Miller got another poke at the puck and it bounded toward the slot to Bourque, who scored his seventh and undoubtedly biggest goal of his career.
"Scoring the overtime winner was like my dad in the '96 All-Star Game when he won the MVP," Bourque said. "I guess it was fun."
To BU coach Jack Parker, it was surprising just to see his team have a bid to win late in the game. Northeastern came out firing in the first period, sending 10 shots on the BU cage, but sophomore goalie John Curry, making his first start since separating his right shoulder Jan. 27, stopped all 10. Top-line forwards Jason Guerriero and Mike Morris had multiple scoring opportunities, while the Terriers regularly turned pucks over and made sloppy plays.
"We really dodged a bullet," said Parker, whose team took a 2-0 lead on Brian McConnell's first-period power-play goal despite the club's overall shakiness. "We were playing not to lose. We were uptight and I didn't know how to get us out of it."
After Awe's second-period goal made it a 2-1 game, the Huskies had their best chance to tie -- or even take a lead -- when Zancanaro and McConnell were sent off for penalties, giving Northeastern a 53-second two-man advantage. But BU forward David Van der Gulik made several plays to clear the puck against Northeastern's No. 1 unit while Curry (33 saves) stood tall.
Despite getting blanked on the two-man advantage, Northeastern continued its barrage and finally tied the game at 17:55 of the third period. Curry made the initial stop on Judy, but Mudryk charged toward the net, corralled the puck from under the goalie, and bumped it into the net.
"They didn't quit," Crowder said of his players. "There's no reason those guys can't go out of here with their heads as high as possible."
But at the end, what was held high was the Beanpot, and once again it was held by the Terriers. Last week, Parker compared BU's success to that of the Patriots, who always seem to win when there's a championship hat and T-shirt on the line. The Terriers had no such outfits after last night's game -- just the elation of lifting the Beanpot over their heads and skating triumphantly around the ice.