BOSTON — In a game between perfect defenses and goaltenders, it took a perfect shot to win.
Alex Tuch’s laser in the second minute of overtime snuck past a Terrier defender before clanging off the pipe and into the back of the net to give Boston College its 20th Beanpot championship over rival Boston University at TD Garden. The 1-0 final was the first such result in tournament history, and it wasn’t a product of bad offense. Quite simply, this was the best matchup of goalies in Beanpot history.
Terrier netminder Sean Maguire stopped 41 shots to bring his tournament save percentage to .970, good for third best all-time. His performance also earned him Eberly Trophy honors—given to the goaltender with the highest tournament save percentage—and Beanpot Tournament MVP.
Needless to say, the best kind of hardware is the trophy that is returning to Chestnut Hill after a one-year hiatus.
Keeping Their Cool
We all know how heated the Green Line rivalry is, and that friction can boil over onto the ice. On Monday, things got chippy before the puck even dropped. Miles Wood and BU’s Ahti Oksanen scuffled early and several brawls broke out over the course of the game. But as much as the fans love dropped gloves and thrown punches, penalty minutes resulting from these fights could have spelled disaster for the Eagles, especially in a game where goals were such a luxury. Besides 30 seconds of 5-on-3 action—a sequence where BC’s fifth-ranked penalty-killing unit beat the Terriers’ power play to perfection—the Eagles did a great job controlling their tempers and not allowing reckless penalties to determine the outcome of the game.
BU actually racked up 18 penalty minutes compared to BC’s six, with the majority of the Terriers’ box time belonging to Jordan Greenway. The freshman forward seemed to be in the middle of every scrap, most notably colliding with Eagle goaltender Thatcher Demko in the third period on a breakaway. Earlier, he dropped his gloves to throw punches at Casey Fitzgerald, which sidelined him for 10 minutes for misconduct. Credit has to be given to head coach Jerry York: As much as his players probably wanted to retaliate against Greenway for his rough play, the legendary leader kept them in check to avoid shooting themselves in the foot with penalties.
The ending of the game will go down in Beanpot history, but it all started with a hip check by BC captain Teddy Doherty that allowed Steve Santini to control the puck without pressure behind the blue line. The extra time resulted in a better pass to Zach Sanford, who pushed the puck up the ice in a 3-on-3 attack. With a defender closing in, Sanford dumped off a short pass to Tuch, who brought the puck back toward the right side to avoid the teeth of the Terrier defense.
Here’s where things start to speed up. Tuch cuts back and fakes a drop-off pass behind him to a streaking Doherty. The threat of the handoff forces the BU defense to sag and respect the threat of Doherty. Inadvertently, this creates a screen on Maguire, as junior Doyle Somerby accidentally blocks the view of his own goalie. Now, Tuch’s back is still to the goal—no one is expecting a shot here. But as he whips around, he creates just enough power to send his no-look wrist shot into the top right corner of the net as Maguire reacts late due to his impeded vision. Santini, skating toward the goal expecting to clean up the mess, throws his arms in the air along with the rest of the Eagles as the horn sounds. Pure pandemonium ensues.
After 62 minutes of play, both defenses were exhausted. The defensive pressure of the first three periods had faded and, with tired legs, BU’s blue line had begun to relax. When that happens, you have to take advantage and fire off as many shots as possible to try to catch the goalie off-guard or corral a rebound. With four of the five shots in the overtime period, BC did exactly that, earning the win and bragging rights over its Comm. Ave. rivals.
Thatcher the Puck-Snatcher
Demko put his entire skill set on display in his 30-save effort against the Terriers. The sophomore picked a tough bounce in the third period, bodied slap shots from distance, and halted numerous breakaways despite violent crashes with BU forwards. Most importantly, he showcased his toughness in the championship game, twice turning away trainers who came out to check on him after collisions. The second time followed a breakaway attempt from Greenway, who bulldozed into Demko and left him clutching his side. Yelling at everyone from trainers to backup goalie Ian Milosz, Demko persuaded the coaching staff to keep him in the crease despite being banged up.
He wanted to stay in the game. He needed to stay in the game.
The 1-0 shutout win for Demko will cement his name in history for a couple different reasons. First, his shutout marks his ninth of the season, surpassing Cory Schneider for most in school history. It was also the first shutout in a Beanpot final since 1984, and just the fourth all-time. And with his last two shutouts coming against top-10 squads (Notre Dame, BU), Demko has proven that he brings his best game to the biggest stages.
No Beanpot member school has ever won a national championship without first conquering the Beanpot. Now that they’ve cleared their first major obstacle, the hurdles will continue for Demko and the Eagles in the Hockey East tournament and the Frozen Four. Whether it’s incoming shots or sound medical advice to sit out the remainder of the game, Demko is rejecting everything right now, and it has propelled BC into the conversation of national title contenders.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor