By: Joe Pohoryles
BOSTON – With 6:42 left in double overtime, the score is tied 4-4. Northeastern senior defenseman and captain Ryan Shea streaks into the Terrier zone, approached by BU senior forward and assistant captain Patrick Harper. While attempting to round Harper, Shea leans just a tad too far and falls to the ice. It appears no contact is made, but the official’s arm goes up. Harper is called for tripping.
On the ensuing power play, an Alex Vlasic clear attempt falls to Huskies freshman forward Aidan McDonough, who plays it back and forth with sophomore defenseman Jordan Harris. Harris cuts to the middle of the ice just in front of the blue line, winds a shot, and beats BU graduate goaltender Sam Tucker. It was the first goal Tucker would allow all night, but the final blow for Northeastern’s victory.
On one side of the stadium, shock and sadness; on the other, pandemonium. On one side of the ice, helmets and gloves go flying; on the other, sticks are snapped in half. The Huskies took the thrilling 2020 Beanpot final, 5-4, in double-overtime.
“I’m not supposed to comment on officials, but one thing I will say is the diving in that game that was called: unreal. Unreal… It’s just a tough thing to watch,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said after the game. Terrier players were not made available for comment.
“I’m not gonna dignify the question or [O’Connell’s] comments with an answer,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said when asked about O’Connell’s remarks. Madigan took a pause, then said, “The game could have gone either way, we got the break, but I sympathize with them… These things have a way of evening themselves out, and our guy was going down the wing, and got tripped, so the referee called it.”
The Terriers started the game off hot. Less than three minutes into the game, Terriers’ sophomore forward Jake Wise saddled himself on the Northeastern doorstep. Fellow sophomore forward Matthew Quercia rang in a slapshot, hitting Huskies’ graduate netminder Craig Pantano in the ribs. The puck bounced right into Wise’s stick, and he backhanded in his second goal of the season.
With 12:10 left in the first period, the Terriers worked the puck over to freshman forward Trevor Zegras, who had acres of real estate to work with. Zegras took aim and lasered the shot into the top right corner to give BU a 2-0 lead.
After carrying that 2-0 lead into the locker room, the Terriers looked poised to waltz to their first Beanpot in five years. But there was a lot of game to play. In a span of 10-and-half minutes of game time, from 17:07 to 8:37 left in the second period, the Huskies racked up four straight goals, including two on the power play to storm to a 4-2 lead.
Freshman goaltender Ashton Abel, who faced just six shots in the first period, was pulled for Tucker after the fourth goal in 14 shots for the Huskies. From there, Tucker stood on his head, bailing out the BU defense that had missed so many assignments throughout the middle frame, and the two teams went to the third period with the score at 4-2.
Just 1:56 into the third, the Terriers breathed new life. While on the power play, Harper fed the puck to junior defenseman David Farrance, who teed up the puck before firing at Pantano from long range. The puck skipped through Pantano’s five-hole, and the Terriers cut the deficit to one.
Back-and-forth play followed as time slowly slipped away. With around 90 seconds left, Tucker was pulled to give BU the extra attacker, but the Huskies hunkered down. All hope was lost. 10 seconds left. Five seconds left. Zegras gets the puck behind the net. He rolls around and shoots. The clock hits zero, but the puck is in the back of the net.
In his second goal of the game, Zegras gave BU a last gasp, tying the game at four and forcing the final to overtime, sending the Terrier crowd into a frenzy.
The two sides took a couple minutes to regroup, and the five minute overtime period came and went. Just like last week, BU was heading to double overtime, tied 4-4, after a two-goal comeback thanks to late heroics.
The Terriers peppered Pantano with shots in double-OT, stringing together two or three offensive zone possessions for every one from Northeastern. Then came the controversial Harper penalty and then the Harris shot, and the rest was history.
“The coaches kind of mentioned that if we get the puck, try to push it to the middle and get a shot, and we try to do just that,” Harris said about his Beanpot-clinching goal, “Thankfully, a lane opened up and it went in. It was pretty special,” he continued.
In an incredibly disappointing end to a mind-bogglingly exciting game, the Terriers were left to watch the Huskies raise their Beanpot banner for the third year in a row. It was the 11th time BU had lost to Northeastern in the Beanpot, and the third time in a row.
McDonough led the Huskies with four points (1g, 3a), and sophomore defenseman Julian Kislin added three assists. Junior forward and assistant captain Zach Solow tallied a goal and an assist in his MVP effort. Five other Huskies, including Harris, tallied at least one point, and Pantano finished with 4 goals allowed and 40 saves off of 44 shots.
For BU, Zegras had two goals, while Farrance led the team with three points (1g, 2a). Five other Terriers got on the scoresheet, while Abel made just 10 saves on 14 shots, and Tucker allowed one goal on 19 shots.
“The fans were great, it was electric… From a BU perspective, I’m sure they didn’t like the call. I’ve been there. We’ve lost to BU in overtime on a PK situation… I thought the officials did a good job, and it’s one of those things where we found a way to win the game, and it was a big win for us,” Madigan said.
The Terriers will regroup to face the University of New Hampshire Wildcats in Durham on Feb. 14 at 7 pm, while the Huskies will begin their victory tour at the UMass Lowell Riverhawks on Feb. 14 at 7:15 pm.
The next matchups between these two teams will be the final two of the regular season, first on Mar. 6 at Northeastern, then Mar. 7 at Agganis Arena.
“Karma didn’t catch up to that one. It will,” O’Connell said. Perhaps it will catch up on that March weekend.