By James Garrison
The Boston University men’s hockey team (17-10-3, 11-6-3 Hockey East) defeated the Northeastern University Huskies (19-9-1, 10-6-1 HE) 1-0 in the championship game of the Beanpot on Monday night at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
The championship is BU’s first Beanpot title since 2015 and the 31st Beanpot won by the Terriers in their 100 year history –– the most of any of the four schools.
Sophomore forward Dylan Peterson scored the lone goal of the game with 2:48 remaining in the third period to give the Terriers the lead late. Peterson was named tournament MVP after scoring his eighth goal of the season and the biggest of his collegiate career.
“It’s pretty special,” Peterson said in the post-game press conference. “It feels great but it feels better just knowing that we won that game and how much we deserved it (…) it’s a great moment, it feels special for sure but I’m excited just to celebrate with my teammates,” Peterson added.
The two sides had met twice prior this season and in both contests, the Huskies took the extra point in either overtime or the shootout. Additionally, the Huskies had eliminated the Terriers in the last three Beanpots including the 2018 and 2020 championship games.
The Terriers were able to exorcise those demons with a complete team effort in what was, on both sides, one of the best college hockey games of the year.
“They really performed in a pressure environment, a loud building,” said Terriers’ Head Coach Albie O’Connell in the post-game press conference. “There were a lot of plays that could have gone the wrong way if we were not playing the right way.”
Both sides traded great chances and exchanged extended periods of pressure that was met evenly by strong defense and stellar goaltending by both BU and Northeastern. Despite BU’s strong shot margin of 29-19, the game could not have felt more even.
And then it happened. Junior defenseman Domenick Fensore broke the puck out to junior forward Jamie Armstrong who fed Peterson at the netmouth for a tap-in, go-ahead goal with just under three minutes to go in regulation.
“[Fensore] made a really nice play, got the puck out, ”Peterson said. “[Armstrong] picked it up (…) he walked that guy and put it right on my tape. Bunch of credit to [Armstrong] there, he made an incredible play. ”
In classic Beanpot and college hockey fashion, the atmosphere at the TD Garden Monday night did not disappoint. The respective fan bases of both teams filled the seats of the Garden and their energy and anticipation was palpable and grew as the game progressed.
“National anthem through the end of the game was electric, it was a great atmosphere,” O’Connell said. “A good game for a spectator… even just with one goal it was pretty exciting.”
Both sides were missing notable players for the championship game. The Huskies were without freshman forward Justin Hryckowian and the Terriers without junior defenseman Alex Vlasic.
“You could argue that he’s our best player,” O’Connell said of Vlasic. “There was not a lot of concern on our end because Copeland’s played pretty well and I thought he played a really good game tonight.”
This will likely be Vinny Duplessis’ last game as the starting goaltender, as the gold medal game of the Olympics is set for February 20th –– the last potential game that Drew Commesso could play in for Team USA will take place five days before BU’s next contest.
In his short time as the starting goalie for BU, Duplessis posted some impressive numbers. Duplessis led the Terriers throughout that stretch with a 4-0 record, a .957 save percentage, a 1.00 goals-against-average and two shutouts. Duplessis stopped all 19 shots he faced in the championship game.
“Vinny’s been really good,” O’Connell said. “Vinny’s a competitor and if you watch how he preps for practice, games, how much work he puts in, and he’s really focused (…) He’s really professional in how he operates.”
There are very few members of this Terriers team who have ever won a trophy in college hockey. The last championship that BU captured was the 2018 Hockey East conference championship where only seniors Logan Cockerill and Ty Amonte were members of the team.
Both Amonte and Cockerill elected to return to BU this season for a fifth year to play in games like this and attempt to bring another championship to Comm Ave.
“They deserve it more than anybody,” Peterson said of his captains. “They’ve been great leading by example and the rest of us following in their footsteps… just happy for those guys.”
If defeating Northeastern to win the school’s first Beanpot title in seven years and the 31st in school history was not exciting enough to take away from the win, defeating Northeastern also has major implications for the NCAA tournament.
Going into the night, BU sat in 18th place in the USCHO Pairwise rankings –– the best metric to predict who will qualify for the NCAA Tournament. With the victory, the Terriers jumped into 14th place, passing Providence, UMass Lowell, Northeastern, and Clarkson.
When asked about the Pairwise rankings and where his team stands after losing to BU, Northeastern Head Coach Jerry Keefe responded, “Yes, and it was not good.”
O’Connell said his team has gotten into a rhythm in their second-half turnaround resulting in a Pairwise rankings upgrade.
“Now we know how to win as a group and guys really want to win,” O’Connell said.
The Terriers will take a much deserved bit of time off. They will not play again until Feb. 25 where they will have a two game home-and-home series against the Boston College Eagles in the second-to-last weekend of the regular season.
The Terriers have done what many would have thought impossible at the end of the first semester. This victory marks the high point of their season so far and the run that they have been on since the beginning of the second semester.
“It feels great, there’s no other way to describe it,” Peterson said. “I’ve never experienced the Beanpot before but I’m really excited just to experience the next couple of days.”
Coverage for upcoming games, as well as the end of the regular season for both the men’s and women’s teams can be found with recaps and previews on the Blog’s website, as well as coverage on Instagram @ boston.hockey.blog and on Twitter @BOShockeyblog .