MEN'S HOCKEY: Eagles Prepare For Beanpot Final Against Talented Northeastern Team
Published: Monday, February 10, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 09:02
The freshman looked unstoppable. As if three goals against Boston University weren’t enough, he put up another two in the Beanpot final, netting the MVP award for himself. That season, he continued on to score 34 points, leading his team.
No, he wasn’t Johnny Gaudreau. He was Northeastern’s Kevin Roy.
Roy made a strong impression during last year’s Beanpot, becoming only the fifth player in Beanpot history to receive the individual accolade while being a member of a losing team. With five goals in two games, though, it would have been hard to argue against him.
Tonight’s Beanpot final could tell a similar story. Northeastern advanced through the first round last Monday with a dominant 6-0 win over Harvard in which Roy had two points, one goal and an assist. While it’s not the same caliber of a performance as last year’s, Roy has not disappointed so far this year. After 28 games played, he is just one point shy of his total from last season, tallying 15 goals and 18 assists.
“We’ve just got to be aware of him when he’s on the ice, you know,” said Boston College head coach Jerry York. “Four on fours, big ice situations … but we’re facing players like him during the course of the year. When 15’s on the ice, we’ll be very aware of that fact.”
Roy is not the only force to be reckoned with on the Huskies’ roster, though. Redshirt junior goalie Clay Witt stopped 27 Harvard shots on the way to his fourth shutout of the year in Monday’s semifinal. The impressive performance went right along with the trend of his season. The starter currently has a record of 14-7-2 to go along with a save percentage of .946, the best in Division I men’s hockey.
This is not the first time that the Eagles and the Huskies will meet this season. Back in the beginning of November, the teams played a home and home, the Eagles coming out of both games victorious, but not nearly by their average margin of victory. When the Eagles have been winning, they have been winning big, with an average margin of 3.57 goals over their opponents in 21 wins so far this season. The games against Northeastern, however, were not the norm, the first going the Eagles’ way by a score of 4-2, and the second coming to an end in overtime with BC scraping through with a 4-3 win.
In the first matchup, on Nov. 1, Witt was a big contributor to the narrow goal margin. While the Huskies only fired off 22 shots at BC goalie Thatcher Demko, who let two of them in, the Eagles’ shot 50 percent more, a total of 33, with Witt letting in only three. The Eagles fourth goal came after Witt left the ice for an extra attacker.
In the even closer game the next evening, it was Brian Billett in net for BC who let in three goals with 31 saves, while Witt had 36 saves and allowed four goals.
“I think we’ve got two very good goaltenders going against each other,” York said. “But our league has very good goaltenders. He’s [Witt] one of the premier ones in our league.”
During those two games in November, the line of Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, and Kevin Hayes had yet to come together, but on their respective lines, the now top-performing trio had four goals and five assists. Since coming together, the line has terrorized goaltenders around Hockey East with 56, 47, and 41 points, respectively, Gaudreau, Hayes, and Arnold currently hold three of the top four spots on the list of the NCAA’s point leaders.
“I think earlier in the season, we needed more balance, but now all four lines are contributing, and that enables us to put that line together,” York said.
While the line is currently not starting BC’s games, it is easily identifiable as the Eagles’ top offensive weapon, even as Michael Sit, Quinn Smith, and Brendan Silk started last Monday’s semi-final.
“I just think that I like the way Michael Sit’s line starts, so we’ve kept that,” York said. “I like the momentum they give us right off the bat.”
While the Sit line may give the Eagles a solid start, it is the high-powered Gaudreau line that is lighting up the scoreboard for the Eagles. Against the Terriers, the line was responsible for two of the Eagles’ three goals, the first a perfect triumvirate with assists from Arnold and Gaudreau on a Hayes goal, and the second being scored on an empty net by Gaudreau with assists from Arnold and, something that isn’t seen every day, Demko.
To go along with his second career point as an Eagle, Demko put up a performance in the semifinal round that rivaled Witt’s for Northeastern. With his spot as starter solidified after starting the season on an alternating schedule with Billet, Demko came through for the Eagles with 27 saves and allowed just one goal from the Terriers, carrying the Eagles through much of the game when they struggled to build a gap on the scoreboard.
“I think he’s improving every week,” York said. “We’re lucky we’ve got two really good goaltenders in Brian Billett and Thatcher.”