Men’s Hockey: Beanpot drought continues for NU

By Jared Shafran, News Staff

Although not the clash of the top two ranked teams in the nation that many had hoped for, the 57th Beanpot final between Boston University and Northeastern remained close until two late shorthanded goals by the Terriers denied the Huskies their first Beanpot title since 1988.
Playing in front of a loud crowd that supported the team throughout the night, the Huskies came into the third period down only one goal.
But the team was unable to fight off BU’s pressure and surrendered a total of three shorthanded goals during’ the night, which proved to be the difference in the 5-2 loss in Northeastern’s first trip to the Beanpot final since 2005.
‘I don’t care what level of hockey [you’re playing]. If you give up three shorthanded goals you’re not going to win,’ said Northeastern’ head coach Greg Cronin. ‘I think we all can learn from the experience.’
Both teams started’ the game playing at a high level. The first six minutes were played with no stoppages or breaks in the action.
With six minutes left in the first period, NU had a 7-2 advantage in shots until sophomore defenseman Mike Hewkin took a two-minute penalty for holding. Just 40 seconds later, senior defenseman Louis Liotti put the Huskies down two men when he was called for cross-checking.
BU was able to use the 5-on-3 advantage to get on the board and take a 1-0 lead on a goal by defenseman Colby Cohen at 16:09.
With 1:10 to go before the period came to a close, a’ boarding penalty was called against Terrier forward Luke Popko.
Northeastern seized the power play opportunity and was able to tie the game late on a goal by freshman forward Mike McLaughlin with just 26 seconds remaining in the period. The play started when sophomore forward Wade MacLeod had the puck down low on the power play for NU.
He passed it in front to senior captain Joe Vitale, who was hooked by BU forward Chris Higgins as he took a quick shot on net. The rebound came out to McLaughlin who put it home to tie the game.
A penalty was given to Higgins that allowed Northeastern to start the second period on another’ power play. However, the period did not begin the way the Huskies had hoped.
NU turned the puck over in the offensive zone, giving BU forward Brandon Yip a breakaway opportunity. Although Yip shot the puck high and missed the net, the rebound came out to’ eventual Beanpot MVP Nick Bonino, who unloaded a blast that went right into the top of the net. BU had their second lead of the game, 2-1.
About eight minutes into the period, Northeastern had another power play opportunity but could not convert. As the time expired on the man advantage, freshman forward Steve Quailer got the puck to junior defenseman David Strathman who was at the point. Strathman took a shot on net, which was initially saved by BU goalie Kieran Milan, but the rebound went to sophomore forward Tyler McNeely who buried it and tied the game.
The deadlock didn’t last long however, as BU forward Jason Lawrence scored just a minute later, to reclaim the lead at 3-2.
Once again, the Huskies started the third period on a power play and an early penalty on defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk of BU for cross-checking gave NU a 5-on-3 advantage.
Cronin called a timeout and regrouped the team going into the big advantage.
‘I felt that at that time of the game we weren’t going to see another 5-on-3 and it would be good to rest our guys because four of the five guys were tired,’ Cronin said. ‘I just tried to re-energize them so that when they went back out there they had more energy and I thought it worked out well because we had some good looks but we just couldn’t score.’
Even with the two-man advantage, the Huskies were unable to put one past Milan and BU’s penalty kill stood strong. NU finished the night converting on only one out of 10 power play opportunities.
With the game still 3-2 BU, and with seven minutes left to play, the Huskies went back on the power play when Terrier forward Joe Pereira was called for slashing.
During the power play, a turnover by the Huskies at BU’s blue line created a 2-on-1 rush for the Terriers.’ Defenseman David Warsofsky put a wrist shot past Northeastern junior goalie Brad Thiessen to give the Terriers their second shorthanded goal of the night and extend the lead to 4-2.
Thirty seconds later, BU got another shorthanded goal on the same power play for the Huskies. This time it was forward Colin Wilson who took a pass from Shattenkirk and put the puck past a diving Thiessen for the final score of the game, sealing the Terriers’ 29th Beanpot championship.
After the game, Thiessen was given the Eberly Trophy and recognized as the tournament’s most outstanding goaltender. He posted a .925 save percentage during the two Beanpot games and took home the award for the second straight year.
‘I thought he played a good game,’ Cronin said. ‘He’s a pretty mature kid and he’s on a mission this year and I think he will bounce back this Friday.’
With the win, the Terriers improved to 22-5-1, 13-5-1 Hockey East. Northeastern’s overall record is now 19-7-2, 14-4-1 Hockey East.’ The Huskies will look to keep their edge in the Hockey East standings this weekend when they have a home-and-home with the UMass Minutemen (11-14-3, 6-10-3).
The Huskies” next game is Friday at the Mullins Center in Amherst where the puck will drop at 7 p.m. The team will return home to Matthews Arena’ Saturday for another 7 p.m. face-off.

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