What's the difference between no. 2 and no. 3 in the college hockey polls? 6.4 seconds.
That's how much time Boston College's Bill Arnold had left in OT when he slotted Steven Whitney's perfect pass past the nearly unbeatable Boston University goaltender Kieran Millan, giving the Eagles a 3-2 win and their third straight Beanpot championship in the best game on Causeway Street since Game 7 of last year's Eastern Conference Finals.
A classic goalie duel, both Millan and Eagle Parker Milner were stellar. At no point was their top-notch play more apparent than in overtime and the third period, as the teams desperately traded rushes.
But free flowing as those 39 minutes and 4.6 seconds were, heavy physical play made for a chippy second period (and provided NESN producers big hits for video packages for years to come) that saw the Terriers face two five-on-threes, one of which resulted in Chris Kreider's goal that gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead. Johnny Gaudreau added an assist on the goal to his four points from last week's game, which proved enough to earn the freshman tournament MVP honors.
Steadying the ship, Millan was the Terriers best penalty killer, giving up just one goal on seven Eagles chances and stopping 44 of 47 shots. It was a performance good enough to land the bittersweet honor of the Eberly Trophy as the tournament's best goaltender. Equally impressive was Milner, who got better the more he was tested late in the game; he made 7 of his 34 saves in overtime.
And though it won't show up on the stat sheet or garner awards, Brian Dumoulin propelled the Eagles with gritty play in all three zones. "That was as good a performance from a defenseman [as] I've seen," said BC head coach Jerry York, praising the Carolina Hurricanes prospect's play, "and I've been in [college hockey] a long time."
A big part of why BU's offense had trouble getting off shots at times, Dumoulin's pressure smothered their offensive zone play, including a key blocked shot on a shorthanded rush in the third period. His delayed blast seven minutes into OT would have been the deciding goal if not for Millan's glove. Shortly after, he beat Millan but hit pipe; Dumoulin had another decent chance later in the period on a half-spin move that gave him a clear shot at the net. On Arnold's game-winner, it was Dumoulin crashing the cage and screening Millan.
That a defenseman was the best player on the ice was no surprise in a game defined by strong defensive play. Eagles captain Tommy Cross set the defensive tone early in the first, making a key stop when the game was still scoreless to deny the Terriers of a three-on-one. For stretches in the overtime period, BU was unable to get out of their own end as the Eagles clamped down in the neutral zone, forcing consecutive faceoffs in the Terriers zone.
Lost in the losing effort was Garrett Noonan's two huge goals off some beautiful tic-tac-toe passes from the Terrier power play. Until Arnold's even-strength game-winner, every goal came on special teams.
The win gives BC their first Beanpot three-peat since 1963-1965, and BU's third year without a title marks their longest drought since the 1982-1985 tournaments. (Excuse Harvard and Northeastern fans as they laugh at the idea of three years marking a drought.)
Speaking of the black sheep of the Beanpot, Harvard defeated Northeastern 3-2 in the consolation game for their second consecutive third place finish.
Hockey East has a complete highlight package, if you're curious.
Photo of last year's BC Beanpot win by Cipriansjr (Wikimedia Commons)
About Janssen -- I'm a public school teacher and music critic. I also teach adult ESL classes through a volunteer organization in Boston's Chinatown. So right off the bat you can guess my progressive bent in areas of education and immigration policy. Beyond the political, I've been attending DIY shows since I was 14 or so, getting heavily involved in Boston's metal scene. I've also been a subject of a 'Village Voice' cover story, which was sort of fun in a "through the looking glass" sort of way.
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