Overtime pays off big for Cross and Eagles
When talking about the Beanpot, the term “bragging rights’’ comes up a lot because the four schools that compete in the annual tournament are all located in Boston and three are Hockey East rivals.
For the last several years, however, this beloved tradition among alumni, students, and hockey fans alike has proved to be a steppingstone to national glory.
Boston College won the NCAA title in 2008 and 2010 and Boston University won it in 2009. All three years, the winner of the Beanpot went on to win the Frozen Four. After last night, the No. 1-ranked Eagles are hoping history repeats itself again.
BC beat No. 14 BU for the fourth time this season on junior defenseman Tommy Cross’s power-play goal at 3:17 of overtime, lifting the Eagles to a 3-2 victory in front of 17,565 at TD Garden.
Cross, who has battled injuries throughout his career, scored on a low shot from the middle of the point through a screen. The blast eluded junior goalie Kieran Millan (37 saves) and sent the Eagles to the championship game, where they will play Northeastern.
BC senior goalie John Muse (34 saves) said that as great as it was to beat the Terriers again, he and his teammates acknowledge their season-long goals are lofty, there is an order to how they want to achieve them, and they’ll take nothing for granted.
“I don’t know if it’s so much a coincidence or not,’’ said Muse, who improved to 6-1 in the Beanpot. “You win the Beanpot and go on and win the national championship. It’s happened the last three years but the Beanpot is only four teams in the country and it’s only Boston teams. The NCAA Tournament, there are 16 teams and it’s a lot different when you get there. We have our eye on the prize, we set goals at the beginning of the year. Obviously one of them is to start with the Beanpot championship. But at the same time, we know that the Beanpot is the first two [Mondays] in February, it’s not the end of the world if you lose it and it’s not everything if you win it. There is still a lot of work to be done.’’
BC struck first, with a little help from the BU defense. At 14:37 of the opening period, sophomore defenseman Philip Samuelsson, whose father, Ulf, became a part of Garden lore during his NHL days, threw the puck at the net from the far edge of the left circle.
The puck caromed off the stick of BU blue liner David Warsofsky and was redirected into the top right corner of the net, beating Millan to the glove side. After scoring just one goal in his first 24 games this season, Samuelsson has three in his last two outings, including a career-high three-point outburst against UMass last Friday.
Less than a minute later, though, the Terriers answered. Freshman defenseman Garrett Noonan made a stealth pass behind him to sophomore Wade Megan in the right circle. Megan snapped it in at 15:15, beating Muse to the stick side and tying the game.
Early in the second, BU took a 2-1 lead. With a loose puck bouncing around the slot, junior center Corey Trivino outdueled BC defenseman Brian Dumoulin and rapped it past Muse at 2:17.
The Terriers had a chance to build on that with 2:34 left when sophomore right wing Alex Chiasson had a breakaway but Muse turned back his forehand bid.
With 2:07 remaining, BC had a chance to pull even. Sophomore center Pat Mullane had the puck in the right circle and threw it toward the net. With sophomore left wing Chris Kreider and junior right wing Jimmy Hayes hammering away at the top of the crease as BU’s Warsofsky, Ryan Santana, and Matt Nieto defended in front of Millan, it appeared that Hayes’s attempt went all the way across the goal line. After a lengthy review, however, it was ruled no goal.
Hayes fared better in the early part of the third when his goal brought the Eagles back even at 2-2. Mullane dished a pass in the left circle and Hayes’s quick shot beat Millan to the glove side at 4:56.
BU freshman center Charlie Coyle had a chance to end it in regulation with just over a minute remaining when he took a pass from Warsofsky during a power play and raced in on Muse, but the goalie held him at bay.
Samuelsson, too, had an opportunity to avoid overtime with 51.4 seconds left when he raced in on Millan just as he emerged from the penalty box, but his backhander couldn’t find an opening and it was on to OT.
BU coach Jack Parker said he was proud of his young team, which had plenty of chances to win.
“That’s the best team in the nation and we played head-to-head with them,’’ said Parker. “This team is growing up right in front of me and I’m pleased with their effort tonight.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.