Boston College men’s hockey is second only to Green Live rivals Boston University in the all-time Beanpot title leaderboard, having claimed 20 titles to the Terriers’ 30, but the last two years have, well, been historically bad. The Eagles have gone winless in each of the last two years of the four-team tournament that is entering its 67th year, falling in both the first round and consolation game in 2017 and 2018. To put that in perspective, BC had only recorded one other set consecutive fourth-place finishes, and that was back in 1974-75—and the program has only gone winless four other times.
Quite simply, the Eagles enter this year’s Beanpot desperately trying to shake off a two-year drought. While this could seem like an overreaction—the team did win six of the previous seven, after all—the team is mired in its shakiest two-year stretch in quite some time. BC enters Monday night’s matchup with Harvard at 8-12-3, four games under .500 and winless in non-conference play. With nine non-Beanpot games remaining, the Eagles will have to push to avoid their first .500 or below season since 2001-02. They’ve missed the NCAA Tournament each of the past two years and will surely need a Hockey East crown to return.
So, yes, this year’s Beanpot will mean an awful lot to head coach Jerry York’s bunch. It’s worth taking a look back at the last four losses—several familiar faces will be aiming to redeem themselves or continue to build their legacies this year—to see just what has gone wrong at TD Garden the last 24 months.
FEB. 6, 2017 — First Round: BU 3, BC 1
The 2016 championship game was one of the most dramatic in Beanpot history, as it was decided by a 1-0 margin for the first time in 64 years of play. The Eagles came out on top, using an Alex Tuch overtime game-winner to knock off the Terriers for their 20th title. It was yet another entry into BC’s prolonged dominance over its rivals, having taken six straight from BU dating back to 2007.
That wasn’t in the cards in this first round matchup, though. With plenty of departures from the 2015-16 squad, the Eagles weren’t quite the same. They came out flat as they were thoroughly outplayed by the Terriers in the first period to the tune of a 1-0 deficit, the one goal coming after Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson knocked in a wraparound pass from Patrick Harper. After not taking a shot until the 19-minute mark of the first, BC didn’t fare better at the outset of the second period, with BU’s Chad Krys taking advantage of a power-play chance to extend the lead to two.
The Eagles woke up, though, with Austin Cangelosi—en route to a 21-goal, 14-assist campaign—burying a deflection off of Terriers goaltender Jake Oettinger, one caused by Ryan Fitzgerald. Four minutes later, BC had a golden opportunity to tie it up and prolong its title defense, as Forsbacka-Karlsson went to the box for holding.
Instead, BU forward Clayton Keller, the No. 7 overall pick of the Phoenix Coyotes, scored a shorthanded goal that had York and the Eagles kicking themselves after. Keller beat then-freshman defenseman Luke McInnis before deftly slipping the puck past an isolated Joseph Woll in net with a backhand for an insurance goal that would ultimately prove unnecessary.
Plenty of problems stood out in the loss for BC. The inconsistency from period to period was one, as the Eagles couldn’t mount any comeback in the third after spending eight minutes in the box during the period. They also went 0-for-4 on the power play, mustering a single shot (as opposed to 11 from BU on its six power plays), and couldn’t capitalize on several rebounds coughed up by Oettinger, who recorded 22 saves.
FEB. 13, 2017 — Consolation Game: Northeastern 4, BC 2
Then, after a humbling Friday night loss to Merrimack, the Eagles returned to TD Garden and were promptly handed their first winless Beanpot since 1993. Despite leading the conference and facing off against the Huskies—a team eight spots below it in the Hockey East table—BC suffered a controversial two-goal loss, went 0-2-2 down the stretch, and eventually lost to Massachusetts Lowell in the conference tournament title game to miss out on the NCAA Tournament.
The loss to Northeastern was particularly painful. The Huskies answered an early goal from BC’s David Cotton with back-to-back scoring plays from Adam Filipe in the second and third periods, but the Eagles logged an equalizer with six minutes to go when Colin White broke through. It set up a frenzied finish, and with 73 seconds left—despite being outplayed for much of the game—BC seemed to find a potential game-winning goal.
It was Cotton again, this time part of a bull rush on the Northeastern net, who eventually seemed to push the puck through the crease and into the back of the goal. A celebration began, but it didn’t last after two minutes of review. The ruling was that goaltender Ryan Ruck had been interfered with by a BC forward—he was out of position, according to the referees, and that was why Cotton had been able to score.
This ruling was greeted with joy by the Huskies head coach Jim Madigan, who said “as the goal was scored, I was calling for interference.” It was met with anger by York, as the usually mild-mannered head coach was furious.
“I think we had a winning goal and now we’re going to do 5-on-6 to defend for the last minute or so of the game,” York said after. “Now, my view is different from the referees’ view. Clearly different. I watched the tape, I watched the video, and that’s my view. But I don’t have a whistle as a referee. Do I agree with it? Absolutely not. But it’s their call, it’s not my call. It’s really frustrating that we’re preparing our team to defend and we get it called back on us.”
Just 30 seconds later, Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese found Dylan Sikura for a game-winning goal. The Huskies added an empty-netter—it was Adam Gaudette this time—and the first winless Beanpot in 25 years was in the cards for the the Eagles.
The loss wasn’t without strong performances—Woll had 26 saves, the penalty kill held Northeastern’s No. 1 power play off the board, and Cotton enjoyed a good day at the office. The Eagles also struggled, though, as they burnt plenty of time with drawn-out possessions that didn’t feature any shots, and couldn’t win the bulk of faceoffs.
FEB. 5, 2018 — First Round: Northeastern 3, BC 0
A rematch with the Huskies loomed in the first round of the 2018 edition of the Beanpot—this was Northeastern’s game to lose and it played like it. The Huskies scored a goal in each period en route to a 3-0 shutout, Woll had 29 saves and Logan Hutsko didn’t look intimidated by the pressure of the big stage in his first year with six shots, but the Eagles didn’t have any success on the power play and were sent back to the consolation game.
No. 18 BC turned the puck over often and couldn’t do anything on special teams in the loss, a humbling setback against No. 11 Northeastern. One of the Eagles’ biggest problems could be traced to rebounds, as the Huskies peppered Woll and made the most of their opportunities when BC defensemen failed to box out.
It took just under 10 minutes for Northeastern to take the lead, with Sikura coming up big again. J.D. Dudek went to the box with a tripping penalty—the second infraction of the game for BC—and the Huskies capitalized. His shot from the far circle deflected off Eagles defenseman Casey Fitzgerald and slipped pass Woll for a lead that Northeastern wouldn’t relinquish.
In the second period, the Eagles were still in the game and making things difficult for Huskies goaltender Cayden Primeau, but all momentum was lost with Northeastern’s second goal of the game. Sikura’s shot from the blue line was initially saved by Woll, but Nolan Stevens was left alone in the crease to clean up the rebound and bury it.
Gaudette polished off the 3-0 shutout with five minutes left in the game, the Hobey Baker Award winner knocked in a puck that careened off Woll in net. The number of rebounds that the Huskies took advantage of was alarming, and something that York was once again clearly frustrated with.
“We just didn’t box out,” York said about the decisive second goal. “Joe [Woll] makes the save and there’s no box out in front. That’s something we have to address there.”
Once again, defensive breakdowns, turnovers, and special team woes cost the Eagles a third straight Beanpot game.
FEB. 12, 2018 — Consolation: Harvard 5, BC 4 (OT)
Of all four of the games, the most heartbreaking might very well be the consolation game loss to Harvard in overtime. The Eagles trailed, 3-1, in the third period to the Crimson and seemed headed toward yet another disappointing loss, but then Hutsko woke up. The freshman scored three goals in the final 14 minutes, a natural hat trick, tying the game up at 4-4 with just a minute and a half left on the clock.
It seemed like BC would carry its momentum into overtime, finally shaking off the disappointment from the winless Beanpot the year prior, and escape the consolation game against Harvard with a win. Instead, the Eagles’ non-conference winless streak continued in overtime, with Crimson forward Seb Lloyd scoring the overtime game-winner at the 2:43 mark, one-timing a Jake Horton pass past BC goaltender Ryan Edquist.
It was a painful loss, amplified by the fact that the Eagles hadn’t finished last in the tournament in successive seasons for the first time in 43 years. While it was an impressive coming out party for Hutsko’s talent—York said after that “Logan Hutsko is becoming an emerging player in the Hockey East”—it was still yet another non-conference loss.
The reasons were aplenty: Edquist struggled to cover up the puck, with four of Harvard’s five goals coming on rebounds. The rebounds theme had carried over from the Northeastern loss, with Crimson forwards finding clear angles to the puck and knocking them in. BC also had several costly miscommunications on defense, several which came back to haunt them in the third period in which it allowed three goals.
Hutsko’s game was remarkable in the defeat—he became the first rookie on the team to reach the double-digit goal mark. The forward was able to deflect in a slapshot on the power play to bring the Eagles within one and just a minute later found the back of the net again after Edquist had sprinted to the bench. Ultimately, he accomplished the incredible feat of scoring goals at even strength, down a man, and up a man.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Senior Staff