Tuesday, February 12, 2013
BC INVITATIONAL !
They did it. Four straight Beanpots. For so long the Beanpot was this two game tournament that haunted Boston College and their fans for nearly three decades from the 70's through the 90's. The First two Monday's in February used to have this feeling around them of "let's show up and hope to give BU a run for their money". The class of 2013 has changed all that. Thanks to a two goal performance from Johnny G, and outstanding game from defenseman Mike Matheson, and some huge saves late in the contest by Parker Milner, the Boston College Eagles continued their reign of dominance over the Beanpot tournament, winning their 4th consecutive and 5th in the last 6 years with thrilling 6-3 win over rival Northeastern. Let's just take a second and think about this awesome senior class we have. Yes, the ride is nowhere near over but no matter what happens at the end of this season, these guys can always tell anyone that they won 4 straight Beanpots.
As for the game itself, I though Northeastern did a really good job of slowing the game down and clogging up passing lanes in the first period. Despite both clubs having numerous power play chances throughout the first 20 minutes, there weren't a ton of really good scoring opportunities, thanks in part to both defensive units and goaltenders. On BC's power play chances, they continued to move it around well at times but there were a lot of shots from the perimeter, many of which were blocked by Huskie defenders. BC had a multitude of chances when it was 5 on 5 but were denied by the post 3 or 4 times. On one power play, Steven Whitney made a sweet dish to Billy Arnold who went in on a breakaway but was stopped short by the crossbar. BC also had a couple of scrambles right in front of Rawlings, but the NU senior was up to the task. Well, at first he was.
The second period was all BC. The Huskies continued to clog lanes for the first 8 or 9 minutes of the period but suddenly BC started to open things up and were rewarded with a Bill Arnold goal. The tally was made possible thanks to a bad NU turnover in the neutral zone, in which Kevin Hayes took advantage of by creating a 3 on 2 rush for the Eagles. Once Hayes saw that he had numbers, he slid the puck over the Arnold to make it 1-0. They've only been together for a couple of games but the line of Steven Whitney, Billy Arnold, and Kevin Hayes is playing some top notch hockey. They were forced to go against one of the better top lines in Hockey East for much of the game but they did not step down. They created lots of odd man rushes and grade A chances as the night went on. The second BC goal came moments later when Johnny G won a battle behind Rawlings, brought the puck out in front, and stuffed it home for his 14th goal of the year. This was just a great effort from a great player. He got the puck deep in the NU end, won a battle for the puck, and like he normally does, finished it off. This is the difference between the BC team that won a Beanpot championship and the BC team that lost at home to Maine. They won battles all night long. The little things are the biggest things in hockey. Getting pucks deep, finishing check, staying out of the box, and avoiding bad turnovers are huge in games like last nights. For the most part, I thought the Eagles did a phenomenal job of doing these things. Once Northeastern freshman phenom Kevin Roy got the Huskies back into the game with a strike shortly after Johnny's, BC responded well with a huge goal from rising forward Pat Brown. Unfortunately, you give out MVP's of tournaments based on stats and records. If you based the award of pure toughness and determination, Pat Brown would run away with it. He was awesome these past two games. When Brown, Smith, and Dyroff are playing like they were last night and vs Harvard, this is a very good hockey team because it adds another line that can be a scoring threat. Are they going to be as dangerous as the first two lines ? No, but they can develop into one of the better third or fourth lines in the league with the way they're playing right now.
The fourth BC goal was the killer for the Huskies. The goal, scored by Steven Whitney, was tallied with .4 second left in the second. The goal was all made possible because of great hustle from Billy Arnold. After getting the puck towards Rawlings (always a smart move) Arnold noticed that the NU goalie was going to the play the puck to his left so he flew over there, picked off the pass, passed it over to Steve Whitney, who patiently waited to make a nice move before firing it pass Rawlings. The key for BC was to just get the puck towards this Rawlings guy. Early on, you saw guys shooting from everywhere just to see if Rawlings brought his game with him. So, all things seemed to be under control heading into the third period. The Eagles were just 20 minutes from a Beanpot championship. Then Roy struck again, this time just 11 seconds into the third stanza on a wrist shot from inside the blue line. One that Parker Milner would certainly love to have back. The Huskies now had a bit of momentum. When Steven Whitney was called tripping just minutes after the Roy goal, the Eagles were in dire need of a big kill. They didn't get it. Braden Pimm deflected a Vinny Saponari shot from the point past Parker with 16 minutes remaining in the game. Suddenly, we had a game.
Honestly, I thought BC played some of it's best hockey of the year after the third Northeastern goal. They got back to what they were doing in the second period. They created a bunch of odd man rushes, played solid defense, and were able to stay out of the box. However, despite outplaying NU for much of the second half of the period, BC still was only up one goal and it was just a matter of time before the Huskies got the game tying tally. Then Mike Matheson showed why he is the best defenseman in the league. Steven Whitney pounced on a puck in the neutral zone but BC decided they need a line change, leaving Whitney with no reinforcements entering the NU zone. Like he always does so well, Matheson jumped into the offensive zone, received a pass from Whitney, skated around three Huskies, and dished it over to a streaking Johnny G who easily tapped the puck past Rawlings to put the game on ice. It was three of the most talented players in the country hooking up for one of the most memorable goals in recent Beanpot memory. Steve Whitney could have just dumped the puck in and changed but instead he had the presence of mind to make something out of nothing. Matheson received the pass and made two or three eye opening moves around the Huskie defenders before giving it up to Johnny G who did what he usually does. Just three awesome plays combined to make one sweet goal. BC easily finished off the game with a power play empty net goal from senior captain Pat Mullane to make it 6-3. Certainly a fitting end for a guy that has done so much for this school and this program.
Two weeks ago I walked out of Conte Forum saying to myself this team had zero chance of making home ice in Hockey East after being swept at home vs a Maine team that had won something like 5 games all year. I saw improvements in the win vs Vermont but I still wasn't completely sold that this team could go out on back to back weeks and win a Beanpot Championship. This team and this coaching staff (thankfully) proved me dead wrong. Winning trophies is not an easy task, especially when your team has been down in the dumps for a couple weeks after losses to teams such as UMass and Maine. They could have thrown it in the towel. But they didn't. They fought and they worked each and every day over the course of these past two weeks to become the best hockey team they could possibly be on one of the biggest and brightest stages this sport has to offer.
Finally, to the seniors, what an accomplishment you guys fulfilled last night. I could sit here and write about what great players Pat Mullane, Steve Whitney, Books Dyroff, Pat Wey, Patch Alber, and Parker Milner are but they're not just great players. They're outstanding ambassadors of Boston College. I mean how many captains will get up in front of 60 something media members and give a two minute thank you to the fans ? Yhea, Pat Mullane did that last night. These guys never let this team quit, even during the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. Just an unreal accomplishment by a group of outstanding young leaders that have certainly made their mark on this program.
Welcome to the BC Invitational.
Why BC Won-
1. Your best players need to be great in big games. Whitney, Johnny G, Arnold, Mullane, and Matheson played some great hockey tonight.
2. Huge saves by Parker Milner. Yes, he gave up two pretty soft goals but he made a big breakaway save on Kevin Roy midway through the third that preserved the lead for BC.
My Beanpot MVP (For BC)- A tie between Johnny G and Mike Matheson.
Note- Awesome going by Harvard last night. Great seeing those guys from down the street come in dead last. No more of this "BU Invitational" crap.
GO EAGLES !