The past two weeks marked the first two Mondays in February, which for college hockey fans is the closest thing to Christmas. The first Monday marks the semifinal games of the Beanpot, played at the home of the Boston Bruins, with the winners of the two games meeting the next week at TD Garden.
This year saw the two-time defending champion the Northeastern Huskies take on Harvard in the first semifinal. Before 2018, the Huskies had not won the tournament since 1988, and now they were going for three in a row. Northeastern handled Harvard 3-1 on the strength of a late second period goal from Brendan Van Riemsdyk and 27 saves from grad transfer goalie Craig Pantano. This was the less eventful of the two semifinal games, as they were followed up by the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue between Boston University and Boston College.
The Eagles had a 3-1 lead until 7:24 remaining in the third period, when the Terriers potted a goal, scored by David Farrance and assisted by Patrick Harper. Just over a minute later, Harper tied the game for BU on the power play. Then with two minutes left, Harper assisted on Robert Mastrosimone’s tie breaker to give BU the lead. When all hope seemed lost for BC, they were awarded a power play and capitalized with 58 seconds remaining to send it to overtime. Through the first five minutes, no dice, which means the game is a tie in the NCAA’s book, and a second 20-minute overtime would be played. Freshman forward Wilmer Skoog scored to send the Terriers back to the championship game.
This past Monday, the consolation game and championship game were played. The consolation game was a blow out, with BC defeating Harvard 7-2, but everyone came for the main event: the Championship game. The 68th Beanpot Championship went to overtime for the third time in the last 6 years, and it was an all-time classic. BU started off hot, ending the first period up 2-0. Northeastern came out in the second looking like a team that wanted its third straight title, scoring four unanswered goals to take a commanding 4-2 lead headed into the final frame. This forced the Terriers to pull their goalie Ashton Abel after he allowed four goals. The third period was back to being all Terriers. They scored on David Farrance’s slap shot early in the frame, and the play went back and forth for the rest of the period. With a minute left, Northeastern iced the puck, meaning they had to keep their five tired guys on the ice. They lost the faceoff but had a chance to clear the puck with under 30 seconds to go. Farrance kept the puck in the zone, starting a last-ditch effort for the Terriers which they capitalized. Trevor Zegras scored with two seconds left to send it to overtime. The first OT ended, and in the second, Northeastern’s Jordan Harris scored on the power play, caused by a weak call on Harper for tripping, and the Huskies had the three-peat win.
The past two weeks showed once again that the Beanpot is one of the best events hockey has going, and other states are even trying to emulate it. Jan. 25-26 marked the first CT Ice Festival between Quinnipiac, Yale, UConn and inaugural champion Sacred Heart. Four of the top teams in the country, some of the best players and top NHL prospects and sell-out crowds every year; the Beanpot just continues to impress.