BOSTON — There was no reason to believe when No. 7 Boston College faced No. 3 Boston University in Monday’s second Beanpot semifinal that it would be anything but a barn burner.
Sure, the Terriers are ranked higher nationally and had swept the earlier two Hockey East games against the Eagles. But both games were thrillers, setting the stage for yet another ultimate throw down between two of college hockey’s most hated rivals.
Instead, BU’s dominance early and late sandwiched a second period that the Terriers successfully survived, paving the way for a 3-1 victory.
Boston University will face Harvard, a 4-3 winner over Northeastern, in next Monday’s championship game. The Terriers will look for their 31st title in the tournament’s 65-year history.
Part of the reason this game lacked pop was a fast start for the Terriers and an equally slow beginning for BC.
BU had a 12-2 shot advantage in the first and the Eagles didn’t have a shot until the 18:10 mark, that one coming from center ice.
“We started so slow,” said BC coach Jerry York. “It’s not the way we’ve played the last month of the season.”
The only good news for the Eagles was that they trailed by only a goal as Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was the only Terrier to find the back of the net.
The bad news, though, came early in the second. A goal by rookie defenseman Chad Krys just 3:23 into the frame put the Eagles in a 2-0 deficit.
Sure, the Eagles gave their crowd something to cheer about when Austin Cangelosi scored his 12th of the season, burying a rebound at the 6:59 mark. And momentum continued when Forsbacka Karlsson was sent off for hooking less than four minutes later.
Then, though, the other shoe fell.
The inability to retrieve a puck on a dump in led to a pass that sent rookie phenom Clayton Keller in alone on BC netminder Joe Woll. Slipping the puck five hole, Keller scored shorthanded, stole back the energy in the building and, though not known at the time, finished the scoring for the night.
If the Eagles had any hopes of a comeback in the third period, much of it was quashed by a consistent parade of Eagles to the penalty box. Four minors, including two in the game’s final seven minutes, killed any momentum the Eagles could generate.
“It put us behind the eight ball,” said York. “Matthew Gaudreau took two penalties and both were well deserved. It’s hard to come back from a 3-1 deficit when you get four penalties, that’s for sure.”
Those penalties, along with BU’s ability to manage the game in the final 20 minutes, sends the Terriers to the title game, even if the manner didn’t create the excitement fans are accustomed to in a Beanpot.
“We’ve had a tendency to make life difficult for ourselves, as you saw in the second period,” said BU coach David Quinn. “I thought the third period, we did a much better job of [managing things].
“We limited their opportunities. They were pinching and stretching people and taking chances. I thought we did a really good job of recognizing it.”
The win, remarkably, is the first for Boston University over its archrival in the Beanpot in a decade. And it will set up a clash with the Crimson in the title game for the first time since 1998, that game a 2-1 overtime victory for the Terriers.
For the fans who make their way to TD Garden next Monday, most will hope for a game that packs a little more punch than Monday’s second semifinal.
But if that’s not the case, that’s okay with Quinn as long as the Terriers come out on top.