BOSTON - For years, Boston College had been second best in the Beanpot – a tournament that had been dominated by Boston University. However, this decade the tournament has leaned more in the direction of Boston College, as it has won the tournament three years in a row.
The Eagles (19-10-1, 13-7-1 Hockey East) took Monday night’s contest over BU (17-10-1, 13-7-1 Hockey East) in a thriller in which sophomore Bill Arnold fired the game-winning goal over Kieran Millan’s glove with 6.4 seconds remaining in the first overtime.
The goal capped the Eagles’ third Beanpot win in the past three years, over which they have won three one-goal games, two of which were in overtime. BU used to be the team to beat in the tournament, but the trend has shifted in favor of BC over recent years.
“In the ’90s, we won eight out of the 10 Beanpots, and in the 2000s, we won seven out of the 10 Beanpots,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “Now we’re in the 2010s and we haven’t won any yet. So there’s a long haul for us to match up that type of standard.”
BC’s Beanpot success has come with the emergence of BC’s core of current upperclassmen, which include senior captain Tommy Cross, as well as juniors Chris Kreider and Brian Dumoulin. Getting this kind of success out of a team started way back when BC coach Jerry York recruited his team.
“We really have done a good job of recruiting the right type of student-athlete to BC,” York said. “We have some outstanding young guys and their hockey skills are just what I thought they would be when I recruited them.
“You need a lot of good hockey players to be successful at this level, and I think that’s probably the main thing… We didn’t win this year because we won last year.”
Kreider, who scored a goal and an assist in Monday night’s game, has scored in all three Beanpot tournaments he has participated in and won a Beanpot MVP last year. As a junior at BC, Kreider has not lost a Beanpot, while already capturing two Hockey East Titles and a National Championship in his career. While the Boxford, Mass. native has had a successful career with BC in the regular season, big games like the Beanpot are where Kreider has shined brightest.
“Guys obviously pick themselves up for these games,” Kreider said. “It is very easy playing these games with a team that is energetic and that wants to win.”
One player who stepped his game up on the big stage was Cross, who blocked nine shots in the game. Cross, who may have been playing on his future home rink as a prospect of the Boston Bruins, thinks that while BC is improving its performances in Beanpots, its past few wins were a case of BC getting the right bounces in close games.
“I don’t know if it is BC taking over the Beanpot. Last year was overtime, this year was overtime,” Cross said. “I think it just speaks to the level of play… BU has a great hockey team, BC has a great hockey team. The level of play gets better every year.”
With BC’s core of upperclassmen likely to be depleted after this season of graduations and players leaving to go professional, their underclassmen do not seem to be short of playmakers in big games like Monday’s. Arnold, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime, is only a sophomore. Johnny Gaudreau, who scored two goals and two assists in his first two career Beanpot games, is a mere freshman.
While the Eagles won the game, the final result was not secured until almost 80 minutes of hockey were completed. The Terriers and the Eagles remain one of college hockey’s most heated rivalries, and based on Monday’s matchup it remains pretty evenly matched. The Beanpot goes to the Eagles though, and York knows that it, along with its legacy as one of the most entertaining hockey tournaments in the country, are safe in BC’s hands.
“Over the last two years people have been talking about ‘has the Beanpot lost its luster and what has happened to college hockey in the Boston area?’. Well tonight was a statement.” York said. “I think the Beanpot is in good hands… that was college hockey at its finest.”