Men’s Hockey: Terriers hope to steal Beanpot crown from Northeastern

By: Joe Pohoryles

The score is 4-4. The Boston University Terriers have come back from a 3-1 deficit as the game has gone all the way to double overtime. There is 12:47 left on the clock, but that does not matter. This game will not end when the clock hits zero; it ends when the puck hits the back of the net.

In a sequence involving a trio of Alex’s, Boston College’s Alex Newhook attempts to clear the puck as Boston University’s Alex Brink applies the check, causing the puck to sputter to BU defenseman Alex Vlasic, who has plenty of room to work with.

The 6’6″ Vlasic fires the puck on a tight angle towards the BC net, backstopped by freshman phenom Spencer Knight, who shields the net with his blocker as the puck bounces loose in front of him, falling to Brink, who takes a wack at it. Knight does not flinch, but the puck floats to his left.

In flies Wilmer Skoog, a freshman forward who joined the squad just prior the second semester. In just his eighth game as a Terrier, the Swede slides past BC’s Mike Hardman, gets his stick on the puck and elevates it over a sprawling Knight. Game over.

With a 5-4 double overtime victory (that will officially go down as a 4-4 tie due to NCAA overtime rules), the Terriers upset the No. 4 Eagles at TD Garden on Feb. 3 in an epic Beanpot semifinal that was one for the ages. The Terriers (10-9-7, 7-5-5 HEA) will face the No. 13/12 Northeastern University Huskies (15-8-2, 8-7-1 HEA), who beat the No. 17 Harvard University Crimson 3-1 in their semifinal leg.

The Huskies are looking to win their third straight Beanpot and their seventh all-time. The Terriers, meanwhile, are looking to increase their all-time lead in Beanpot titles to 31. The 68th Beanpot final will take place at TD Garden tomorrow at 7:30 pm following the consolation game between BC and Harvard at 4:30 pm.

BU and Northeastern met once earlier this season in a 6-3 upset victory for the Terriers at Agganis Arena on Dec. 7.

“They were coming back from Northern Ireland, and we were at home,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said, referencing the Huskies’ trip to Belfast as they partook in the 2019 Friendship Four on Nov. 29 and 30.

The Huskies have gone 5-3 since that Dec. 7 showdown, while the Terriers have gone 6-3-2. (7-3-1 if you count the Beanpot semifinal as a win.)

“They’re a lot better now, and we’re a lot better team than we were then,” O’Connell said.

The Huskies are led offensively by sophomore forward Tyler Madden with 35 points (17g, 18a), good enough for fourth-most in the country. Another key contributor for Northeastern is the do-it-all senior defenseman Ryan Shea. Shea is third on the team with 25 points, leading with 21 assists, while he is also tops for the Huskies in blocked shots with 31.

Shea is just one of many upperclassmen contributors that balances out the youth of Madden & Co. Junior forward Zach Solow and senior forward Matt Felipe are top five point scorers for the Huskies, while graduate goaltender Craig Pantano has been the top netminder.

The Terriers, on the other hand, while having a fair share of veteran leadership with the likes of junior defenseman David Farrance and senior forwards Patrick Curry and Patrick Harper, are overall a young, inexperienced team.

“It’s easy to count us out because of how young we are, but we’re just trying to be mature and go about our business. At the end of the day, it’s just another hockey game,” freshman forward Sam Stevens said. “It’s a championship game, obviously, so there’s a little more to it.”

The Terriers are coming off a concerning 5-1 loss to the Merrimack College Warriors on Feb. 7, while the Huskies fell 4-2 to the University of Maine Black Bears. With each side coming into tomorrow desperate to shake off a bad loss, this game could fall either way.

“Northeastern’s a really good team. It’ll be a test for us, but we’ve handled them before – we just gotta do it again,” junior defenseman and assistant captain Cam Crotty said.

The stage is set for a hotly contested showdown at TD Garden tomorrow night, where the top dog of the Beanpot will be decided.

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