Sports, Top Story, Winter, Hockey

No. 1 Eagles Downed By No. 3 BU 4–3 in First Round of 2024 Beanpot

Just 10 days before No. 1 Boston College men’s hockey and No. 3 Boston University faced off in the first round of the 2024 Beanpot, the highly touted foes met for the 292nd and 293rd Battles of Comm. Ave. as the then–No. 1 and No. 2 squads in the country.

In a preview of the opening round of the Beanpot, BC took it to the Terriers, sweeping BU and gaining the status of top-ranked team in the nation in the process.

On Monday, though, the Terriers (18–7–1, 12–4–1 Hockey East) returned the favor, and downed BC (19–5–1, 12–3–1) after two first period goals from Macklin Celebrini gave BU an early lead that it never gave up. The slow start for BC, coupled with turnovers throughout the matchup, prevented the Eagles from completing the comeback against BU, and they ultimately fell 4–3 to the Terriers.

“I think all three games were really close,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “So, you could argue that each of the three games could have gone either way. Tonight, definitely they had the better start, and we were chasing. So I’d say that that was probably the one difference from the first two games.”

It took just 32 seconds for the Terriers to give BC a man advantage in the first period. But despite multiple close looks for the Eagles, BU killed the penalty, and the momentum quickly shifted in the direction of the Terriers. 

BU didn’t need long to open up the scoring. On a rush 4:00 into the game, Celebrini took sole control of the puck and fired a wrist shot from in between the circles that got the better of BC goaltender Jacob Fowler to make it 1–0 BU. The goal gave BU its first lead over BC all season. 

Celebrini wasted little time adding to the Terriers’ lead, and his statline. After a tripping call on Connor Joyce, the Terriers found themselves on the advantage and capitalized. Lane Hutson wheeled the puck to Celebrini, who unleashed a one-timer into the top shelf to make it a 2–0 game with 13:50 left in the opening frame. 

“Yeah, you’re not going to keep him off for too long,” Brown said of Celebrini. “You have to limit his chances, keep him to the outside, and he was able to find some space and create a lot of plays tonight … Everyone has to be aware when a guy like that is on the ice.”

On BU’s second power play of the period, Fowler made strong saves to prevent yet another BU goal, and the Eagles entered the first intermission in a two-goal hole. 

“Full credit to BU—they came out and established their game plan much better in the first than we did, and then we were chasing it the whole night,” Brown said.

The Eagles ended the shutout in the second period after a tripping penalty on Sam Stevens handed BC its second power-play opportunity of the night. This time, the Eagles didn’t let it go to waste. Gabe Perreault dribbled the puck toward the net before sending a pass to Will Smith, who dished it back to his linemate for a close-range goal, making it a one-goal game with 13:54 to play in the period. 

Less than two minutes later, BU’s Devin Kaplan picked up a penalty for boarding, and it looked like all of the momentum was in BC’s favor. But the Terriers killed the penalty, and just over two minutes later added to their lead.

Drew Fortescue muffed a pass in BC’s defensive zone, and the Terriers made him pay. With 8:11 to play, Luke Tuch took the puck, rearranged himself to face the goal, and fired it past Fowler to reestablish BU’s two-goal lead.

Entering the final 20 minutes of play trailing 3–1, BC needed a spark, but it didn’t come before BU added to its lead by capitalizing on another BC turnover. At the 4:47 mark, Ryan Greene chipped a shot over Fowler to make it a three-goal game. 

“We just had a couple turnovers, one in the third, one in the second,” Brown said. “You know, it’s hard to win games like that if you’ve got costly turnovers.”

BC refused to go down without a fight, though, and Gentry Shamburger provided a spark with a one-timer to make it 4–2 with 11:53 to play in regulation. Just over three minutes later, BC struck again. This time, Ryan Leonard found Perreault at the back door, who potted his second goal of the game to make it 4–3 with 8:36 to play.

With 2:02 remaining, Brown pulled Fowler to give BC six skaters, but despite peppering BU goaltender Mathieu Caron with shots, the Eagles couldn’t find the back of the net, and will enter 2025 on the hunt for their first Beanpot win since 2016.  

“Loved the effort we had in the third,” Brown said. “We had a lot of chances, kept it in their zone, had a lot of sustained time in the zone, but wasn’t enough to get the equalizer.”

February 6, 2024

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