(Photos: Northeastern University Athletics)

There are two things a person learns if they play hockey. First, when you fall down, you must get right back up. Second, hockey is a game of mistakes. And both of these facts were put to the test Monday night as the Boston College Eagles and the Northeastern University Huskies met at TD Garden to battle it out in the 62nd Beanpot Tournament Championship Game.

Perhaps most watching the game expected the Eagles to score first and carry the game away. However, while they did score first, 8:40 into the game on a shot from Kevin Hayes, assisted by his line mates Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau, the Huskies did not give up. In fact, the north and south game was one of the most exciting games that many had seen. And when the Huskies tied it in the second, it was clear that the excitement would continue into the third.

While goals were scored, there is probably more to be said about the goals that weren’t scored. For the Huskies, redshirt junior Clay Witt stood on his head and even took a little batting practice—knocking one puck out of the air with his stick. And perhaps his teammates are beginning to expect such extreme saves from him. Though not well-known outside of Northeastern circles, he should be.  Before the Beanpot, Witt was named the Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week, marking his sixth honor of this season (he was named the “Stop It” Goaltender of the Month on February 3, and earned the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week for the fourth time of the season on January 27). And while Witt was impressive,  head coach Jim Madigan said how proud he was of all of the players during the postgame interviews.

At the other end, for the Eagles, was freshman phenom, Thatcher Demko, whose save percentage was an impressive .966. Throughout the two-game tournament, Demko allowed only two goals—one in the semi-final game against Boston University last Monday, and then one during the championship game, scored by Northeastern freshman, and USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints alumnus, John Stevens, assisted by sophomore  Kevin Roy. Demko kept Northeastern off the score sheet for the first 38:36 of the championship game.

Both goalies may have felt like they were in a football match, as they each got their share of tackles—both getting up slowly after at least one hit a piece, though no penalties were called on either team. In fact, there were only two penalties in the entire game—though fans on both sides felt the referees missed a few. Both penalties were called on the Eagles, who killed both off.

The game-winning goal was scored by Eagles senior, and team captain, Patrick Brown from the seat of his breezers as he was “mauled” (as he described it postgame), assisted by Isaac MacLeod and Austin Cangelosi.

With one minute remaining in the game, Huskies coach Madigan, pulled Witt. Unfortunately, a bad play by the Huskies allowed Eagles junior “Johnny Hockey” Gaudreau, also a Dubuque Fighting Saints alum, an opportunity to get the puck on his stick which meant that, even from the middle of the ice, his shot was right on net, for an empty net goal.

Just 50 seconds left in the game, Brown added one more for the Eagles, getting it past Witt, who was accidentally leveled by one of his own teammates. His frustrations got the better of him as he grabbed the puck from the net and threw it with some anger.

This marked the fifth consecutive Beanpot championship for the Boston Eagles—and perhaps their team is getting used to winning. Their seniors have never known losing this tournament. For the senior Huskies, they have unfortunately never known winning this tournament, though they have managed to get into the championship game three of the last four years.

Consolation Game

As the Boston University Terriers and the Harvard University Crimson took to the ice, it was soon apparent that Harvard was at least determined to get as many shots on goal as possible during the consolation game. And though the Terriers scored first, on just their third shot on goal, they would not score again until the third period, with just 12:40 left in the third period. Unfortunately for the Terriers the Crimson would put up three points of their own in between those two goals and then just 37 seconds after the Terriers scored their second, the Crimson would score their fourth, showing they were not intimidated by Boston University.

Watching the two teams as the game progressed showed that Harvard considered this to be just as important a game as any other they would play. They also seemed a little more on top of their passing game and being in the right place at the right time. The Terriers on the other hand were struggling to make a solid tape-to-tape pass through most of the game and again made some bad choices—including icing the puck while they were on the power play.

For the Terriers, perhaps the silver lining in the 6-2 loss was that senior Anthony Moccia, a local player from Medford, Massachusetts, had a chance to play in the last 2:14 of the game—and to be scored on by Harvard as well.

For the fourth year in a row, Harvard took the third place spot in the Beanpot. And it is the third time in four years that Boston University has been the fourth place team. Most interesting perhaps is that this is only the fifth time in the last 31 years that the Terriers have played in the consolation game (1994, 2008, 2011 and 2013 the others).

Though the Beanpot Tournament is a distinctly Boston event, it is nonetheless an epic tournament to those who play in it every February from Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University and Northeastern University. For these four schools this is their own silver chalice, and the joys of victory and the agonies of defeat resonate with each player. For those who will return to one of these four schools next season, the first two Mondays of February will once again be circled on the calendar, as the other three schools do their best to end the current winning streak of the Boston College Eagles.

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.


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