The jerseys may say Boston College on the front, but it might as well be a giant bull's eye. Year after year, the goals are the same for BC: Win the Beanpot, win the Hockey East tournament, and win a national championship. The Eagles have been successful more often than not, despite the fact that opposition is gunning for them.Look no further than this year's Beanpot. In the first round, Boston University had its best performance of the season against BC, and trailed just 2-1, before Johnny Gaudreau's empty netter sealed the 3-1 win.
And then there was Monday night's championship game. The upstart Northeastern Huskies were looking to end a 26-year drought and threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Eagles. And through two periods, the game was tied, 1-1, as goalies Thatcher Demko for BC and Clay Witt for NU took turns making spectacular save after spectacular save.
"The pace of the game was up all game," said Demko. "It was really fun to be a part of. Each possession was just huge for each team; you never knew what was going to happen with guys going up and down the ice here and there. So it was a really fast-paced game and a really fun game to be a part of."
But as the third period wore on, it became clear that BC had taken NU's best punch, and the Eagles still had a little more in reserve. They landed a final flurry, scoring three goals in the last 5:30 to defeat the Huskies, 4-1 and capture their fifth straight Beanpot championship, and sixth in the last seven years.
"It is something that we strive for and when you accomplish something you strive for it’s a real proud moment," said BC coach Jerry York. "Our players acknowledged that fact tonight."
Captain Patrick Brown delivered the heroics for BC with his tie-breaking goal. Set up in front of the Northeastern net with a Husky defender draped all over him, Brown was able to redirect Isaac McLeod's shot past Witt and into the net.
"Isaac works really hard and he’s always shooting for sticks, he’s got a great shot pass," Brown said. "I was just trying to find a spot in the slot where he could hit my stick. I was getting mauled a little bit and I fell down but just got my stick on it because he made a great tape-to-tape pass."
It was an amazing play, as Brown was falling to the ice when he managed to get his stick on the puck.
"That's a skill he works at during practice and it is something he is very good at," said York. "It was a special play and I will remember that for a long time.”
No doubt Brown works hard in practice, but how do you simulate that situation?
"You’ve just got to focus; you’ve got to keep your eye on the puck," said Brown. "But we’ve got some big, mean D so they do a great job of training you for that in practice."
It's what separates the Eagles from the rest of the pack these days. There is no lamenting that they face everyone else's "A" game. They know everyone else is looking to knock them off. A win against BC in the first round of the Beanpot would've salvaged an otherwise dreadful season for BU. Facing the Eagles in the title game for the third time in four years, Northeastern was looking to finally break through. But BC was not about to give in either week.
"We compete, and we compete until the very end," said Brown. "You come in here as a freshman, and you learn the culture. We want to win trophies. That's what everyone wants to do."
This has become BC's favorite time of year. There's no wilting under pressure or worrying about inexperienced freshmen. Newcomers like Demko take their cue from the upperclassmen.
"It’s just huge coming into the locker room before the game and just having that calming presence in the locker room," said Demko. "Everyone’s calm and ready to go – we’re confident coming in there with your teammates . Brownie and the other seniors do a great job of just making sure everyone’s ready and not overthinking things, just going in and playing our game."
While the line of Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, and tournament MVP Kevin Hayes has been explosive offensively and garnering much of the attention, it's been a total team effort for BC.
"I’m not sure how much credit you guys give us or not but we hold ourselves accountable," said Brown. "[It's] everyone working hard every day in practice, no one taking days off and no one hiding. So we’ve got talented guys but they’ve got to work hard too and the guys with less talent have got to work harder."
After all, trophy season is just beginning, and BC's work isn't done yet.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell