Terriers Lean on Curry
BU Takes Another Beanpot Title; McGuirk Scores OT Game Winner
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
BOSTON Just when you thought that BC-BU couldn't get any better, they give us the 2007 Beanpot installment of the storied rivalry.
The backbone of BU, John Curry, is the little goaltender that could. The senior put the Terriers on his back once again and carried them to their 28th Beanpot title, and third in a row, 2-1 in overtime over Boston College on Monday night in the finals of the 55th annual tournament.
"John Curry was absolutely immense tonight; you have to give him the credit for this one," said BU coach Jack Parker, who has seen a lot in his 34 years as Terriers mentor.
Three years ago, no one would have predicted this story. Curry entered the 2004-05 campaign as the Terrier's third string netminder behind both Stephan Siewec and Karson Gillespie.
Now in his senior season, he finishes his career 5-0 in Beanpot games with a 1.50 goals-against and a tournament-record .958 save-percentage.
Also a tournament record was Curry's .985 save-percentage in this year's tournament.
"John is a tough guy to solve," said BC senior captain Brian Boyle. "He played great tonight."
Curry turned away 37 of the 38 shots that the Eagles threw at him to preserve a gritty, hard-fought, and deserving victory for the Terriers.
"John gives us a ton of confidence," said BU forward Brian McGuirk, who scored the winning goal. "It means a lot for us to get a win for him and the rest of the seniors."
Curry took home the tournament MVP and the Eberly trophy for the tournament's best save percentage. The last time that a BU goaltender took home the Eberly was in the 2003-2004 season when Sean Fields took the honor in a losing effort.
It just adds to the storied BU legacy in this tournament.
"Our history in this tournament can add pressure and take it away all at the same time, it's weird," Curry said. "We had a couple of breakdowns tonight but the defensemen are playing really well. We had guys blocking shots and that has been the story of our year. We have had guys blocking them with their face and that gives me even more motivation to do my part when the pucks get through them.
"Most of the shots that get to me are from the outside. A lot of people will talk about me having a great game, but I can't say enough about our team defense."
BU adds to its record with its 28th title. They have now won more than half of the tournament titles.
"A lot of people ask me why we have so much success in this tournament," Parker said. "I always tell them that you need great goaltending. Tonight we got great goaltending."
It appeared that BU might run away with the game early when the Terriers got on the board just 2:33 into the game. Eric Thomassian pushed a pass across the crease to Chris Higgins who was waiting to blast the one-timer past a sprawled Cory Schneider.
With 6:36 left in the first period, Andrew Orpik gave Thomassian some payback for the setup earlier in the period. Thomassian was along leftwing boards and Orpik came from the opposite end of the ice to crush the winger with a hard check with his shoulder.
The hit knocked Thomassian out of the game and set the tone for what was to become one of the hardest-hitting games of the college hockey season.
The Terriers held that 1-0 lead into the third period, with Curry carrying a Beanpot shutout streak of 116:16 at the time (also a tournament record), but the Eagles were quick to snap that.
Minutes into the final period, Boyle took a slapshot from the point; it was redirected by Anthony Aiello and almost came to a stop in front of Curry. That's when Nathan Gerbe grabbed the puck on his stick and whistled it past Curry.
As Jack Parker put it, after BC tied the game, "All hell broke loose."
BU appeared to have taken the lead with 3:43 left in the third, but after the puck hit the post, it settled underneath Schneider.
The Eagles had their own heart-thumping chance with just 9.3 seconds left in regulation. Benn Ferriero was behind the goal line and tried to bank a shot off the back of Curry and into the BU net. He did manage to get the puck behind the BU goalie, but Curry was able to get his glove to the ice to prevent the puck from crossing the line.
"Oh yeah, that was really close," Curry laughed. "The initial shot was wide and then Ferriero had the puck behind the net and he looked me off as if he was going to pass it back in front - that's what I thought he was going to do.
"He ended up flipping on net and it hit the top of my glove and trickled towards the net but I was fortunate enough to get down on the puck and not let it go in. The puck was literally sitting on the line; I think it was closer than a lot of the fans thought."
Then Parker interjected.
"It was a lot closer than I knew, I'll tell you that," he joked. "I hear you describe that and I'm getting nervous all over again."
Going into the overtime, the Eagles had to feel confident. A look at the Beanpot history, and you'd see why.
It was the third time that the BC and BU played an overtime game in the Beanpot, and the Eagles were 2-0 in the previous two (1957 and 2004).
If they didn't feel comfortable enough with that tidbit, take a look at the 2004 Beanpot tournament: Similar to results earlier in the night, Northeastern beat Harvard 3-1 in the consolation game. Later that night, BC beat BU 2-1 in overtime to clinch the title.
This years' results were eerily reminiscent, with the score 1-1 after 60 minutes.
But on this night, the Terriers changed history.
At 5:06 of the overtime, McGuirk, the Terriers' other hero, chipped the puck over the shoulder of Schneider to clinch the title. It was his first goal of the season.
"John McCarthy made a great play off the faceoff," McGuirk said. "He tied up his man and that allowed me to get to the puck and put it in."
Parker then reminisced of Beanpot past.
"Nothing ever compares to the first one, but this one is special," he said. "They are all special. I know one thing; this is the more fortunate one that we've ever won."