For the fifth consecutive February, the Boston College Eagles returned to Chestnut Hill with the Beanpot trophy in hand after handing the Northeastern Huskies yet another devastating loss in that tournament that has given their program horrors for as long as it had existed. Before I start with the remainder of the post, I'd like to take the time and congratulate NU on a great tournament and a great season up to this point. I wasn't really a believer even after they took us to OT in October but I left last night with a totally different mindset about that Northeastern team, their coaching staff, and their program as a whole. They're a tremendous hockey team with some exceptional players, especially goaltender Clay Witt who played the best game an opposing netminder has played vs BC in a long time. Obviously, it has to be tough for them but they will get their turn. Jim Madigan has them going in the right direction and it's only a matter of time until they get their turn.
But, how bout this team ? How about this Boston College Hockey team ? Over the course of the past five seasons, BC has become a victim of their own success and thus, have forced some to ponder whether the format of the greatest tournament in the world should change. Why does this tournament mean so much to this program, it's fans, and it's alums ? Because for so many years, so many sensational BC teams, ones that probably had even more talent then this club has, have failed to win that coveted trophy. I mean, the teams we had in the late 80's, late 90's and early 2000's were among some of the best in program history yet they always lost to BU in the Beanpot and it stung, a lot. People on the outside will continue to say it's a meaningless tournament that doesn't mean all that much but judging by the celebrations, pictures, and quotes, I'd say the guys are pretty darn happy to have that trophy sitting in the locker room this afternoon.
I think one pretty cool part of writing this blog has been the ability to gain a bit of an inside look at some of the players and how they perform away from the Hockey East arenas. This team is a full of a lot of hard workers, in fact, all of them work hard in their own forms but I have to tell you, there are two guys in the four years I've been writing this thing that are always the first guys on the ice and the last ones off it, each and every practice. One of them was Chris Kreider. The other is Patrick Brown. At the end of each Thursday practice, all the centers go to center ice to work on face offs and they work on it for a while, sometimes close to half an hour or forty five minutes and don't get me wrong, each guy puts a lot of work into it and they go real hard. But, there is always one guy that is the last one remaining and looks for whomever else is on the ice to help him with his face 00off work. That would be Pat Brown. I'm surprised he doesn't have a broken back, he's taken so many face offs. In 2012, a National Championship year, Pat played in just 13 games and saw his spot taken by a few up and coming freshmen. For a lot of people, that would be the end of the line. But not Patrick Brown. He stayed at it and what do ya know he was named captain by his teammates this past spring. You don't get elected captain for the amount of goals you score or points you rack up, you get it because of your leadership qualities, your like ability amongst your teammates, and your work ethic. There is not one person on this team that deserved to score that goal (link), in that situation. In this program, you've got to find a way to play at a high level for the biggest games. Pat Brown played his best game of his career on one of the biggest stages he has ever been on.
As for the game itself, I'm still in the state of shock at how well each goaltender play. Like I said, Clay Witt was tremendous but Thatcher Demko was just a tad better. It's literally like having a brick wall in front of the net. He stops everything he squares up to. I thought BC struggled at times in their own end, I mean the turnover on the Northeastern goal was really bad but once Brown scored with five minutes left, I think NU had maybe one great scoring chance. The first two periods were probably a little bit too up tempo for BC's liking because a lot of the guys on the blue line sometimes struggle with breaking the puck out and generating a rush but once the pace went down just a notch, BC kept NU out of the prime scoring areas and allowed their forwards to get the puck below the Huskie blue line and either start a cycle or generate some quality shots on net. Obviously the first line was tremendous like they always are but the second line of Austin Cangelosi, Brown, and Ryan Fitzgerald played it's best game in a month. Besides the Wisconsin game, this was Cangelosi's best game of the season. He was all over the place, especially in the third period and on the penalty kill.
During a TV commercial with about ten minutes left in the game, a point where Northeastern was starting to create some havoc for BC in their own end, Coach York huddled the team together for about forty five seconds and told them something that must have really got them going because from that point on, BC looked calm and collected. I mean, I was sitting up in the stands sweating bullets and shaking like a rattlesnake, I can only imagine what was going through their minds before Coach York called them over. You can talk about the goal, or the penalty kills, or the saves as the momentum swinger all you want but to me, when I saw Coach call the team in and give them a big fist pump, I knew it was game, set, match.
Heck of a win, heck of a team, heck of a tournament. Now, we try and win a Hockey East regular season title this weekend @ Vermont.
Why BC Won-
1. Thatcer Demko played his best game of the year. Yes, better than the Providence game.
2. The first line. They could probably go over and play in Sochi right now. Seriously.
3. The second line. In my opinion, it was by far their best game since being put together in early December.
There is room for improvement, especially in the turnover category.
MVP- Kevin Hayes
Next Up- @ Vermont for two this weekend.
GO EAGLES !!