After a heartbreaking loss to Harvard in the final seconds of the 2023 Beanpot semifinals on Feb. 6, some questioned Boston College men’s hockey’s ability to apply pressure to opponents throughout all three periods and take advantage of early chances.
But a week later in the Beanpot consolation game, BC delivered, and was hungry for a win when it squared off against crosstown rival No. 5 Boston University.
“You know a consolation game doesn’t always carry as much weight as, obviously, the championship game, but for us, one, playing BU it always matters, and then also, just the situation we’re in right now—we really need to get a win,” BC head coach Greg Brown said.
Nearly one month since their last win, the Eagles (10–12–6, 5–8–5 Hockey East) took down BU (20–8–0, 14–4–0) at TD Garden, earning their 26th third-place finish in Beanpot history with a 4–2 victory.
“So it was a pretty, pretty tight game,” Brown said. “Probably a little more important for us than them, just cause our last month has been a tough go for us, so our guys were desperate and very hungry to get a win.”
The Eagles prioritized early and consistent pressure throughout all 60 minutes, ensuring that they set the tone of the game.
“You know, so important to play for 60 minutes,” Brown said. “We clearly didn’t have a good start against Harvard. … So that was a lot of talk—not only this week, but over the last probably four weeks—that we really got to put together 60 minutes.”
And that is exactly how BC executed against the Terriers.
Oskar Jellvik slid the puck to Nikita Nesterenko 1:52 into the game, who skated to the middle of BC’s attacking zone and sent the puck flying past BU goaltender Drew Commesso.
After the early goal, the Eagles were granted another offensive opportunity with their first power play after officials called a hooking penalty on BU’s Matt Brown 10:21 into the first frame.
Once again, BC took advantage of the Terriers’ mistake. The Eagles set up their power play and found Eamon Powell after a series of smooth passes, and Powell took a clear shot from the left side. Powell’s shot got past Harvard goaltender Mitchell Gibson for his fourth goal of the season and BC took a commanding 2–0 lead over BU.
BU didn’t let the Eagles maintain their two-goal lead for long, though, notching its first goal just over a minute later. The Terriers found themselves in front of Mitch Benson’s goal, and after Benson blocked three BU shots, Ryan Greene finally got the puck by him to make it 2–1.
BC failed to convert on its second power play and entered the second frame up by one. The Eagles outshot BU 14–8 in the first period.
Just over 30 seconds into the second period, the Eagles were inches away from a commanding 3–1 lead. A BU turnover gave Andre Gasseau a quality one-on-none opportunity, but Commesso made a clutch save to keep the Terrier’s deficit at one.
With less than 16 minutes left to play in the period, officials called a string of penalties that led to a period of 4-on-4 play, a BC power play, and a BU power play—none of which resulted in a goal. With 12:44 remaining in the frame, both teams returned to full strength.
Trevor Kuntar received a hooking penalty with 5:20 left in the period, but BC killed the Terriers’ third and last power play of the night. After a three-goal first period, the puck didn’t see the back of either net in the second frame, despite five combined penalties.
But play stopped after officials called matching minors on Luke Tuch and Cutter Gauthier 6:01 into the final frame, resulting in the second stretch of 4-on-4 play of the contest.
Fifteen seconds after the teams returned to full strength, BU knotted the game at two. Jeremy Wilmer threw the puck in front of the net and Jay O’Brien secured the rebound, sending the puck past Benson.
The game was tied for a total of 27 seconds, however. 27 seconds after conceding the lead, a Gasseau goal put the Eagles back ahead. With 11:17 left to play in regulation, BC held a 3–2 lead.
BU couldn’t break through Benson for the remainder of the period, and with 1:58 remaining, the Terriers pulled Commesso from the net to go on a 6-on-5 advantage, attempting to slip one past the Eagles’ defense.
The Terriers failed to convert and the Eagles took possession of the puck.
Kuntar put the icing on the cake for BC, scoring the empty net goal and ensuring the Eagles’ first win since Jan. 14 with 4.7 seconds remaining.
“Yeah, there was definitely some relief after the game today,” Brown said. “It was frustrating because, you know, some of the games we didn’t play our best and we knew it, but then some other games we played pretty well and we came away with nothing. So that was starting to wear on the guys and you know, the morale stayed, verbally it stayed great, you know, stayed positive.”
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