By Joshua Kummins
After an exciting pair of semifinals last Monday, which included a shutout and an overtime clash, the 59th Annual Beanpot concludes on Valentine’s with Boston College set to face Northeastern in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. at the TD Garden Monday night.
The Huskies enter the finals for the first time in two seasons, sporting a 10-11-6 (8-8-5 Hockey East) record. The Eagles have already clinched a playoff spot with a 21-6-0 (16-2-2 HEA) record, which is good for a share of the Hockey East lead with UNH.
Northeastern opened the tournament with a 4-0 shutout of Harvard, led by a pair of goals from junior Mike McLaughlin in the first and second periods. Sophomore Chris Rawlings was outstanding in goal, turning aside 41 shots for his fifth shutout of the season and fourth in seven games. NU won its first overtime game of the season, 3-2, over UMass-Lowell, Friday night, as freshman defenseman Jamie Oleksiak potted the game-winning goal with just 14 seconds to play in the extra session. NU’s fourth consecutive victory against UML propelled it within one point of fifth-place Maine in the conference standings. The win also marks the first time NU has swept a Hockey East regular season series this season.
Senior Wade MacLeod, the team’s leading scorer, added a first-period goal in the game, extending his point-scoring streak to six games. The British Columbia native has 14 goals and 14 assists in 27 games this season.
Junior alternate captain Tommy Cross scored the overtime game-winning goal at 3:17 as BC advanced to its 31st title game with a 3-2 win over archrival BU in last Monday’s nightcap. The win was BC’s fifth straight, fourth of the season against BU and 12th in the last 13 games overall.
The Eagles’ streak continued Friday night when senior John Muse posted a 24-save shutout in a 3-0 win over Providence at the Schneider Arena. Cam Atkinson, Brian Gibbons, and Bill Arnold scored goals for the Eagles, continuing their winning streak that dates back to Jan. 21.
The current Eagles senior class is 5-1 all-time in the Beanpot, while those three players — Joe Whitney, Gibbons, and Muse — are 2-0 in the championship game. Muse, the reigning Eberly Goaltending Award winner (best save percentage in the tournament), is 5-1 in his Beanpot career and 16-4-0 this season
Fellow third-year player Cam Atkinson scored a goal last night as he continues to lead the team with 21 goals and 36 points. He ranks second in Hockey East in goals and fourth in total scoring.
Northeastern trails the all-time Beanpot series, 30-8, but captured a 6-1 win in the last tournament meeting during the 2009 semifinals.
Just six current Huskies were active in the game Feb. 2, 2009, while senior Randy Guzior and junior Drew Muench were both out of the lineup. At the time, junior Chris Donovan led NU with a goal and three assists in the game. Matt Price, a member of BC’s graduating class last season, scored the lone Eagle goal.
Joshua Kummins is a sophomore at Malden High School and the Hockey East beat reporter for BostonSportsU18.com.