By: Jarett Leonard
BOSTON — Northeastern’s Adam Gaudette narrowly missed a chance to play for the United States Olympic team this winter, but that gave the Braintree, Mass. native a chance to play in another tournament that the junior forward grew up watching.
In the Beanpot final on Monday night at TD Garden, Gaudette’s first career hat trick helped deliver the first Beanpot title to Huntington Avenue since 1988 with a 5-2 win over No. 20 Boston University.
“I’d rather win a Beanpot to be honest,” Gaudette said of being snubbed from Team USA. “The Beanpot is way more special to me than an Olympic team. My family and friends were here, and it’s something that we’ll remember forever. I got to do it with a group of guys that I call my family. It’s just all the more special.”
Two power-play goals and an empty-netter highlighted a career night for Gaudette, while Nolan Stevens and Trevor Owens each had a goal apiece. Freshman goaltender Cayden Primeau made 38 saves and finished the tournament with 75 saves to earn the Eberly Award as the tournament’s top net minder.
Down 1-0 in the first period, two BU penalties late in the frame allowed Northeastern to quickly turn the momentum to its side, and the Huskies never looked back. After a clearance forced Northeastern to regroup at center, senior captain Nolan Stevens raced back over the line, cut through the BU defense, walked around the aggressive positioning of BU goaltender Jake Oettinger, and easily tucked it past his right leg to tie the score.
It took the Huskies less than three minutes to add another on the man advantage, this time with Gaudette being the beneficiary of a shot that was blocked right to his tape in the left circle. He made no mistake in giving the Huskies the lead.
“I thought we were doing a good job, we had some more chances, and then we take two penalties,” Quinn said of the opening period. “We haven’t been doing that lately and we do it. It’s not like they were going to score a goal. It’s disappointing. It’s shooting yourself in the foot. If you’re going to win games of this magnitude, you can’t implode like that.”
But it only got worse for Quinn and the Terriers, as Northeastern added two more in the middle frame to blow the game open. First it was Trevor Owens who walked in from the left half wall, and ripped a wrist shot short side on Oettinger (22 saves) to put Northeastern up 3-1 with just over five minutes remaining in the second.
Then, with less five seconds left in the period, Gaudette netted what was a deflating goal for BU. As the clock ran down on the third period, Brady Tkachuk shoved Biagio Lerario to the ice on a face-off and was sent to the box for cross-checking. Just as they did on their prior two attempts, the Huskies took full advantage on the power play. For the second time, Gaudette was the beneficiary of a bounce right to his stick, as he collected it along the left goal line and quickly banked it off the pads of Oettinger into the net.
“I don’t know whether we thought the period was going to end,” Quinn said. “That really sucked the life out of us a little bit. We kept playing, we kept competing. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight.”
Northeastern finished the night 3-for-3 on the man advantage while BU was unsuccessful on its two chances. While the Terriers outshot the Huskies 35-22 at even strength – including with the extra attacker in the final minutes – the power play was clearly the deciding factor.
“We’ve had that power play for three years now and it’s just clicked” Gaudette said of his unit with Stevens and Dylan Sikura. “We’re so confident out there, so comfortable, and we just know where each other is going to be. We’re in the right spots and we’re rewarded for that, and it was just all five guys working as a unit out there.”
The Terriers made things interesting with a late goal with Oettinger pulled for an extra attacker. A Logan Cockerill shot was deflected on to the net by Shane Bowers and the puck just squeaked through the pads of Primeau to bring BU within two.
But the Huskies would get one into the empty net with a half minute remaining, as Gaudette fought through Chad Krys, and slid it into the vacant cage.
“He’s tenacious, he’s gritty, and he never gives up,” Madigan said of Gaudette. “There’s second effort with every shift. When he gets in the offensive zone his eyes light up a little bit more because there’s an opportunity to score, and he knows that we’re counting on him offensively.”
The Terriers got off to a good start in the first period and appeared to have the game’s first goal when Tkachuk drove hard to the net and made contact with Cayden Primeau to jar the puck loose. Drew Melanson was there to clean it up, but it was an easy decision for the officials to negate the goal due to Tkachuk’s goaltender interference.
But the Terriers would get it back a few minutes later, as Logan Cockerill sent a pass to the front of the net from below the goal line, where it rode off Primeau’s paddle and just inside the post.
It wasn’t the most solid of starts for the freshman goaltender, but he settled in as the game went on, an element that Madigan recognized as crucial to his team’s victory.
“It showed he’s a resilient young man and he’s got a lot of resolve,” Madigan said. “He just put that one goal behind him, and he continued to focus in on the next puck. He didn’t allow it to affect his game, and I thought he was immense there for us.”
For Northeastern, the win ended a 30-year Beanpot drought dating to 1988 and it marked the first time that all four teams won the tournament in a four-year span since 1980-83. Madigan said the winless streak had been a big topic of discussion at Northeastern, but he praised his team’s ability to put that pressure aside.