Terriers on a ‘real good roll’
A strong sense of entitlement is at play
Boston University coach Jack Parker wasn’t being ungrateful when he said some people were sick of his team and Boston College winning the Beanpot. Heading into tonight’s 58th title game at TD Garden, either the Terriers or the Eagles have been victors the last 16 years.
That is guaranteed to be the case for a 17th year as the archrivals square off for the 250th time in their history. BU has been the more dominant squad, winning the Beanpot 12 of the last 16 years and four of the last five.
Parker said his larger point was that the Beanpot would have more meaning for Harvard and Northeastern fans and alumni if both teams could turn the tide in the tournament. Those teams will square off in the consolation game this afternoon.
“This tournament has captured Boston’s interest for a long, long time,’’ Parker said. “And we need the alums and the students of all four schools to keep it that way.
“There’s been such a drought of NU and Harvard winning it, people joke that it’s the BU Invitational because we’ve won it so many times and BC’s won it a number of times. Lately, the Harvard/Northeastern drought is dragging on those teams and dragging on their alums.
“I don’t want it to happen to my team, but the sooner one of those two teams wins the Beanpot, the more exciting the Beanpot will be again. People will think it’s a four-team tournament and not a two-team tournament.’’
Both the Eagles (15-8-2) and Terriers (11-11-3) have been playing well of late. BC is 5-2 in its last seven outings, BU is 7-2 in its last nine.
It took a while, but Parker said he believes his team is on the proper path as the stretch run looms.
“They’ve figured out what’s got to go on here,’’ he said. “We’ve been on a real good roll. We’re looking at a team we thought we were going to have at the beginning of the year, a team that is playing real well in a lot of phases of the game. We’re looking like a team that has a chance to do something at the end of the year now because of the way we’re playing.
“This is a different team now. It’s the same personnel, but because the attitudes have changed drastically, and attitude is everything, it’s almost like everybody has exhaled and knows, ‘OK, we’re good again.’ ’’
One of the reasons for the turnaround has been the play of sophomore goaltender Kieran Millan, who struggled at the start of the season coming off the NCAA championship. Parker said Millan is now playing as well as he ever has.
“He certainly didn’t have the semester we would’ve liked him to have in the first semester,’’ said the coach. “But since he’s been back [from the break] he looks as good as he’s ever played here. He looks as sharp as he did his entire freshman year.
“That in and of itself gives us [an advantage] because every little mistake doesn’t jump in the net. There are a lot of positive things going on that weren’t going on earlier in the year. I don’t know if we’ll keep winning like we’re winning, but I have every confidence that this team has turned the corner as far as attitude is concerned. They know how to get themselves ready and they know how to execute and they know how to keep their poise, too.’’
BC brings in one of the most formidable lines in the country - left wing Joe Whitney, center Brian Gibbons, and right wing Cam Atkinson. In the seven games they have been together, the trio has combined for 14 goals and 38 points. The Eagles have won their last three outings by a combined score of 18-3. Against UMass Friday night, BC rode an offensive explosion to a 7-1 win at the Mullins Center, which is a difficult building to play in. The Gibbons line racked up three goals and six assists.
“Every once in a while, the moon and the sun, they all align,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “Every pass is on the tape, the shots are in the net, it’s one of those nights that you don’t see very often but when they come, you have to just enjoy it. It was remarkable, 7-0 after two, and they’ve got a pretty good club. But it was just the alignment of the sun, moon, and stars.’’
As well as that line has been playing, York said there have been contributions from a lot of people.
“We’re getting four [lines] deep with our lineup now, and that creates a lot of matchup problems for other teams,’’ he said. “It’s been good for us. One of the things we pride ourselves on is we’ve given up the fewest goals in the league .’’
In addition, BC has the highest scoring average (3.80 goals per game). For tonight, however, York said there is only one goal.
“We’re just excited about chasing the Beanpot,’’ he said. “All four schools feel the same way. I feel excited about being there. We’re looking forward to it.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.