By Joshua Kummins
BOSTON – Jimmy Hayes scored the game-winning goal at 6:00 of overtime to lift the Boston College Eagles to a wild 7-6 win over the Northeastern Huskies in the Beanpot championship game Monday at the TD Garden.
The Eagles have won 16 titles in the 59-year history of the tournament, including three of the previous four.
Chris Kreider, a Boxford, Mass. native, was named tournament most valuable player, as he scored two goals and an assist.
“I thought the Northeastern team has become a really good hockey team,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “You would think this would be a pretty easy game just looking at records … I feel really good that we got the win and also because we beat a good team.”
“This game had more drama than [a lot of games],” said Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin. “If someone said that this would be a 7-6 game, I would have been shocked.”
Boston College took a 1-0 lead at 9:12 of the first period with a little help from Lady Luck when Tommy Cross, who scored the overtime winner is last week’s semifinals, picked up where he left off in front of the Garden crowd.
The defenseman’s initial shot from the right side found the back of the net off the skate of Northeastern defenseman Mike Hewkin for his fifth goal of the season and his second in the last five games. Huskies goaltender Chris Rawlings was out on the play as he was positioned on the left side, giving the puck an easy route into the net.
Northeastern came back later in the period to tie the score at 1-1 as Luke Eibler scored his second goal of the season at 17:04 on their first power play of the game. Big defenseman Jamie Oleksiak set up the play for Eibler at the right point and he wired it home over the left shoulder of BC’s John Muse.
The Huskies doubled their lead at 18:12 when Brodie Reid ripped another shot over Muse’s shoulder from the middle of the left circle for his sixth goal of the season. Wade MacLeod sent him a pass from the middle of the zone to set their second tally on the man-advantage in as many chances.
The Eagles out-shot the Huskies, 13-10 in the period and nearly doubled their total chances, 22-14.
Pat Mullane evened the score for the Eagles just 53 seconds into the second period as he netted his fourth of the season. Cross and Patrick Wey assisted on the goal, finding Mullane on the left side for the score.
It was dream becoming reality for Huskies freshman Rob Dongara, a Scituate, Mass. native, as he scored his sixth goal of the season on a beautiful rush down ice at 2:47. Mike Hewkin gave Dongara the puck and he did the rest, taking the puck down ice and beating Muse below his right pad forhis first-career shorthanded goal.
The resilient Eagles did not let up though, as Kreider scored his eighth of the season on a power play at 5:25, taking passes from Mullane and Brian Dumoulin for the score from the left side.
Steven Whitney, a Reading, Mass. native, scored his fifth goal of the season on a broken play in the offensive zone just over 12 minutes into the period. Cross was credited with another point on the play, getting the primary assist on the goal. He sent a pass through the middle for Whitney to clean up the mess, despite a lunging Rawlings trying to stop the play.
The Huskies answered again at 13:24 when Wade MacLeod sent a clean shot on goal that was stopped by Muse. Fellow captain Tyler McNeely was there to pot the rebound for his 11th goal of the season.
BC still owned the shots battle in the period, almost doubling the total again, 27-14 in chances, but the game was still even at 4-4 after two.
Reid cashed in for the second time in the game as he cleaned up a rebound off an Oleksiak assist at 8:44 to give the Huskies a 5-4 lead.
At 10:12, the Eagles re-tied the game at 5-5 as Bill Arnold scored his eighth of the season from Barry Almeida and Phillip Samuelsson.
The Eagles got another lucky bounce just 1:32 later when Kreider’s initial shot squeezed through Rawlings for the goal on the man-advantage. Hayes and Dumoulin were credited with assists on Kreider’s second of the game at 11:24.
The Garden erupted when Wade MacLeod scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season at 18:14. Steve Silva tried to split two defenders, but sent a pass to MacLeod streaking on the right side.
BC held a relatively slimmer 15-11 shots advantage in the third period and 22-17 in total chances.
In overtime, Hayes netted the winner at 6:00 when Kreider found him for the winning score through an open net right in front.
“They finished this with what they do best,” said Cronin. “That is great transition…They possessed the puck more in the overtime and that won the game.”
“This is the biggest thing kids will see,” he added. “I was hoping that we could win it, but I told them to enjoy it.”
“This one hurts a lot,” said Northeastern’s Rawlings, who won the Eberly Trophy for the best goaltender in the Beanpot Tournament. “We played well and took them to overtime…We have to carry this into the weekend with the momentum from this game tonight.”
Rawlings made 39 saves in the game, but suffered the loss to fall to 9-10-6. Muse made 21 saves to earn his third Beanpot title.
The teams will meet next season in the 60th annual Beanpot semifinals.