For the second straight year, the Northeastern Huskies have advanced to the Beanpot final, and for the first time since 1985, the Huskies have a chance to repeat as Tournament champions. Coming off a disappointing late-game loss to Connecticut, the Huskies hope the extra day of rest will be beneficial as they take on their familiar foe from Newton, the Boston College Eagles.
History– This will be the 47th time BC and NU have met in the Beanpot, with the Eagles holding a commanding 34-12 record against NU all time, however the Huskies have won the last three games against BC, including shutting them out last season 3-0 in the opening round, the Eagles’ first time being shut out in the Beanpot in 30 years.
All time in the championship round, BC is 4-1 against NU, with the Huskies’ lone victory coming in 1980, when the Huskies won their first Beanpot. Their last championship win was in 2014, when Patrick Brown scored on a tip from his backside through Clay Witt’s legs late in the game.
Eagles So Far– Since we previewed the Beanpot last week, the Eagles have split the two games they’ve played, beating Harvard to advance to the finals before getting shut out against UMass-Lowell on Friday night 3-0.
Their semifinal game against Harvard I was in attendance for, and aside from goaltender Joe Woll, defenseman Michael Kim, and a handful of plays made by the forwards, I was incredibly unimpressed. Harvard was clearly the faster, more skilled team, and the Eagles never seemed to control play at any point in the game. They won the game on the back of Woll saving 27 of 28 shots, and their penalty kill playing as well as possible, shutting out Harvard’s powerplay on three separate occasions, no small feat against the then-top ranked powerplay in the nation.
Boston College got their first goal on a 3-on-2 rush, scored by freshman Patrick Giles. It was his first collegiate goal (I always have a soft spot for first collegiate goals scored at TD Garden), and it was a well executed rush by BC, but also terribly defended by Harvard. The Eagles’ second goal came late in the third, when a pass from Oliver Wahlstrom glanced off a defenseman who had gone prone to block it, and slid to an open area of ice in front of the net. Freshman Jack McBain one-timer the puck to the top corner of the net, and that would prove to be the difference. Both plays were products of right place, right time, right shot by the Eagles, but aside from those chances, I wasn’t impressed with the Eagles’ showing. Harvard ended up outshooting them 28-18 overall, 23-14 at even strength, which is just a pitiful showing at even strength.
Against Lowell, all the damage was done in the second period, with Lowell scoring an even strength, shorthanded, and powerplay goal within 8 minutes in the middle of the period to create a lead they would never lose. Surprisingly, BC actually outshot Lowell 28-26, thought we have to imagine score effects played a role in BC getting the edge. In fact, Lowell goaltender Tyler Wall saved seven shots in the first period, nine in the second, and twelve in the third, so obviously BC started amping up the pressure as the game went on.
Players to Watch– Their leading scorers have not changed since last week. David Cotton (15-9-24), Julius Mattila (7-9-16), Logan Hutsko (4-12-16), and Oliver Wahlstrom (7-6-13) are the top scorers on the team. Michael Kim (1-9-10) is the top scoring defenseman on the team, but co-captain Casey “Fitzbang” Fitzgerald is a shot generator, second on the team with 67 shots on goal after leading the team in that department last season.
Goaltender Joseph Woll is their best player overall. He, like Cayden Primeau and Jake Oettinger, can absolutely steal a game with his play in net, as he showed against Harvard. Woll has eight games this year where he allowed one goal or fewer, including two shutouts, which would spell disaster for a struggling Huskies offense if that version of the goaltender shows up. On the flip side, there also have been nine instances of allowing three goals or more, so while Woll is immensely talented, he is not perfect or infallible. With an unimpressive Eagles team in front of him, getting lots of shots on Woll and traffic in front like the Huskies did to BU last week will greatly improve the chances of a Huskies repeat.
Keys to the Game
- Special teams- Boston College went 4/4 on the penalty kill against Harvard’s elite unit, then killed 3/4 against Lowell. They also allowed a shorthanded goal against Lowell. Northeastern finally cracked their powerplay drought against UConn, after not scoring on any powerplays against BU. I expect the Huskies to dominate possession and shots at even strength, so special teams could be the only way BC makes it through the game. Huskies need to not give them any opportunities.
- Take away the goalie’s eyes- this can apply to either team quite frankly. Peppering the goalie with shots, generating rebounds and chaos, and taking away the eyes of the tall goaltender will lead to one, maybe two goals Monday night. Bank on that. These goalies very rarely get beat cleanly, so each stable of forwards need to help themselves.
- Secondary scoring- it’s simple. The Huskies need scorers other than Tyler Madden, Brandon Hawkins, and Jeremy Davies to step up and tally points if the Huskies are going to have a chance. Patrick Schule stepped up with the opening goal in the semifinals, while Grant Jozefek and Eric Williams tallied an assist and a goal, respectively, against UConn. Hopefully one of them, or another yet to be discovered player, can step up for the Huskies.
- BONUS- the healthy of Jeremy Davies. Davies did not finish the UConn game after blocking a shot late in the third, so we will wait with bated breath for the reveal of big #4 in the line chart. His absence obviously would be a massive loss for Northeastern,
Fallon (23 points)- NU 2-1 in OT
Davis (20 points)- BC wins, 3-2
Downie (17 points)- NU wins 1-0, OT
Gordon (15 points)- 2-1, double OT