Quick hits: Thrilling finishes highlight Beanpot semifinals
First round quick hits from The Beanpot
A 24 hour delay due to the latest snowstorm didn’t stop BC, BU, Harvard and Northeastern from bringing their A-game in the Beanpot semifinals. All four teams combined to provide entertaining hockey, but in the end, the Terriers and Huskies wound up victorious and will meet in the championship game next week. Here are a few thoughts from Tuesday night.
BU and Northeastern win in a thriller
For the first time since 2005, a Beanpot game went into double overtime. Harvard was part of that 2005 double overtime game where they fell to Northeastern. The fifth period was just as unkind to them 10 years later as Danny O’Regan buried a feed from Evan Rodrigues at the doorstep to give the Terriers the 4-3 win and stamp their first Beanpot Final appearance since 2012. The win was BU’s first in the Beanpot in over 1,000 days – something unusual for a team that’s won 29 Beanpots.
In the second game, Northeastern pulled off a 3-2 upset over the five-time defending champion Boston College Eagles. NU junior defenseman Dustin Darou was the hero of this one as his shot from the point got through traffic and beat BC goaltender Thatcher Demko with 1:34 left in regulation.
Northeastern and BU will meet in the Beanpot final for the first time since 2009 – a 5-2 BU victory. That game saw future NHLers like Colin Wilson, Brandon Yip and Joe Vitale, just to name a few.
Michalek stands on his head
Sixty-three saves. No that is not a misprint, so I’ll say it again: sixty-three saves.
Harvard goaltender Steve Michalek played arguably one of the best single game performances in Beanpot history. Unfortunately, the Crimson couldn’t get the victory for the Minnesota Wild prospect, who stood on his head throughout.
Michalek only saw seven shots in the first period. The rest of the way, he saw sixty, including 24 in the two overtime sessions. He was battling through some cramps as the game progressed, but he hung in there and gave his team a chance to win.
Ted Donato’s squad arguably got robbed of a goal in the third period. Had that happened, Michalek wouldn’t have set a Beanpot and school record for saves in a single game, but I’m sure he’d trade that for an appearance in the Beanpot final.
Eichel held to one assist
In his first Beanpot game, Jack Eichel was kept in check on the scoresheet. The likely No. 2 pick in this year’s draft was held to just four shots through three periods, but things changed in overtime as he picked up the pace and fired six shots on goal in the extra session. Eichel’s fellow linemates, Rodrigues and O’Regan, were starting to feel the momentum and in double overtime they smelled blood with a tired Michalek and factored into the game-winner.
Eichel got the secondary assist on O’Regan’s overtime winner, but he found a way to create chances when it mattered. The 18-year old native of Chelmsford is well worth the price of admission, and you might want to catch him in action soon, since this will likely be his only season as a member of the Terriers.
Fitzgerald, Benning, front and center in the second game
For the first time in recent memory, all four Beanpot schools feature a Bruins prospect. In the second game, Ryan Fitzgerald and Matt Benning were front and center.
Fitzgerald, BC’s leader in goals, tallied a goal and an assist in the losing effort. The 2013 fourth round pick went through a midseason slump – this coming after he scored seven goals in the first eight games – but he’s really coming along with five goals and an assist in his last five games. With the departures of Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes from Jerry York’s Frozen Four team a year ago, the Eagles’ legendary coach finally found another offensive weapon in a season where his team is struggling to find the back of the net – at least compared to year’s past.
Benning, a sophomore defenseman, had the task of facing Fitzgerald throughout the night. He did not factor in the stat sheet, but had a solid game in his own end. The 2013 sixth round pick has 14 points on the season (all assists) and could be an X factor in the Beanpot Final.
Third time the charm for Northeastern?
Don’t look now, but for a team who usually ends up in the consolation game of The Beanpot, the Huskies are en route to their third straight appearance in the championship game and fourth in the last five years. They have not captured a Beanpot title since 1988 – their fourth championship of the 80’s.
The Huskies started the season at 0-8-1. Since then they’ve won 11 of 17 and are back at .500. They downed arguably the hottest team in college hockey and will now face the most consistent team in the nation next Monday (weather permitting).