Let the trash-talking begin.
The storied rivalry between Boston College and Boston University will once again be renewed on the greatest of the city’s stages thanks to Boston College’s 5-2 win in Monday’s second semifinal of the 51st annual Beanpot.
The Eagles will meet the Terriers, themselves 2-1 winners over Harvard in the opening game, for the 16th time in tournament history, with the Terriers holding a 9-6 advantage.
BC advanced despite looking to be evenly matched, if not outplayed by Northeastern in the early going.
“The game was tilted towards Northeastern in the first 10-12 minutes of the first period,” said BC coach Jerry York, who will coach in the Beanpot final for the fifth time in his nine-year tenure at the Heights. “They drove with an awful lot of jump and put us back on our heels.”
The Huskies, in fact, gained an early lead thanks to a power-play goal by Eric Ortlip at 13:43 of the first.
That, though, was the wakeup call for the Eagles. From there, BC took control of the remainder of the first period and dominated the second, eventually scoring five straight goals to bury the Huskies.
“We looked up at the board and we’re 1-0 down, but our poise was a factor,” said York. “You can run around and start thinking, ‘We need to tie this thing up quickly,’ and then you’re 2-0 down because you’re taking too many chances. We didn’t do that.”
The game began to tilt towards the Eagles early in the second when junior defenseman J.D. Forrest took the offense into his own hands, evening the game. On an even-up rush, Forrest took a drop pass from Anthony D’Arpino that he held in at the blue line, moved around a defender and pushed a shot short-side past Northeastern goaltender Mike Gilhooly (30 saves).
“I just took it to the net and good things happen when you take it to the net,” said Forrest with a laugh. “That’s what we tell the forwards all the time.”
From there, the Eagles controlled the second period, outshooting the Huskies, 16-7, in the frame.
At 7:23, Ty Hennes gave the Eagles their first lead, capitalizing on a Husky error. Sophomore forward Jason Guerriero found himself behind his own net with the puck. Hoping to simply leave it for a defenseman to carry up ice, Guerriero dumped the puck off, only to see BC’s Ryan Murphy pounce on it and feed it to Hennes, who wristed it over Gilhooly’s left shoulder.
A little more than two minutes later, BC extended the lead when Tony Voce scored his 14th goal of the season and fifth in as many games.
Northeastern had its best chance to get back into the game at the 13-minute mark when back-to-back BC penalties gave the Huskies a 42-second five-on-three. But the Eagles, backstopped by goaltender Matti Kaltiainen (24 saves), killed off the penalties and took what wind was left in the NU sails.
In the third period, BC’s scored at 3:03 on Stephen Gionta’s third career goal — all scored in his last two games — and Ryan Shannon’s 10th tally of the season. These goals signaled the exit for most of what remained of the evening’s sellout crowd of 17,565.
NU mustered one more tally, a Jared Mudryk marker that was academic at 16:24 of the third.
For Northeastern, the loss marked the fifth first-round departure in seven years under head coach Bruce Crowder. After the game, he was quick to admit that his team simply made too many errors.
“BC capitalized on some mistakes in the second period and you can’t do things like that against teams of their caliber,” said Crowder. “I think we got down on ourselves as players in the second period when we made some bad decisions.”
The victory puts BC in the title game for the sixth time in the last decade. Meeting BU will replay what became the status quo matchup in the late ’90s and early years of this millennium.
BC and BU have faced one another in five of the last six Beanpots — three in the championship game, the other two in the semifinals. BU holds a 4-1 edge in those games, but the most memorable on both teams’ mind might be the 2001 final that saw BC beat BU, 5-3, ending the Terriers run of six straight Beanpots.
On the surface, BC is the favorite. The Eagles won the regular-season Hockey East series with the Terriers with three closely-contested victories.
The records, though, won’t matter much next Monday.
“You can throw the 3-0 record right out the window,” said Forrest. “This is BU’s tournament. They have the Beanpot and we’re going to try to do whatever we can to take it away from them and take it back to Chestnut Hill.”
In the meantime, both teams’ fans have a little less than one week to do a season’s worth of Beanpot trash-talking. The clock has officially started.