Boston College Wins Beanpot: Notebook
by Joe Meloni/CHN Reporter
BOSTON Boston College defeated Boston University, 4-3, to win the program’s 15th tournament championship Monday night at the TD Garden.
The Eagles rode a 31-save performance from tournament MVP John Muse to the victory. Muse made 33 saves in the Beanpot semifinal matchup against Harvard last Monday. His .961 save percentage in the two games also earned him the Eberly award, given to the goaltender with the highest save percentage in the tournament.
Muse, who had offseason hip surgery, has reestablished himself at the No. 1 goaltender on Chestnut Hill after splitting time with freshman Parker Millner earlier in the season.
In 19 games this season, Muse is 11-6-2 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.41 goals-against average.
The win over BU Monday night extended BC’s winning streak to four games. In those four games, Muse has held opponents to six goals.
“It’s nice to be playing well,” Muse said following Monday’s win. “But I think the two trophies are more help from my defensemen. A lot of those rebounds, they cleared to the outside. I didn’t do it all by myself. I think we played really good team defense in these two games.”
Muse simply refused to give himself any credit for his performance in the tournament. BC captain Matt Price, a senior who scored a goal against Harvard last Monday night, didn’t hesitate to praise Muse, though.
“If there’s one thing about John, he’s a competitor. He wants to win. He wants to get those games, he wants to play those minutes,” Price said. “He did a great job, especially coming off that surgery. He worked really hard.
“He did what he needed to do to get back in to the shape he wanted to be in. That’s huge. Some guys can use [the summer] as an offseason. John didn’t. He worked as hard as ever, and it’s showed. He’s been playing unbelievable, and we don’t expect anything less.”
Muse vs. Millan
When Kieran Millan led BU to a Beanpot championship, a Hockey East championship, and a national championship as a freshman, the comparisons to Muse were inevitable.
Muse led Boston College to a similarly remarkable season that also ended with those three trophies in tow in his freshman season on Commonwealth Avenue. Both played behind strong defensive units, and there were all-American scattered throughout each roster.
When Millan began the 2009-10 season with tough starts, the similarities continued.
Monday night, the pair met for what seems like the thousandth time in their careers. Muse got the better of Millan Monday night, but the likelihood of a fifth meeting this season seems increasingly plausible as BU continues it resurgence in the Hockey East table.
“He’s a great goalie,” Muse said of Millan. “What he did last year was unbelievable – the amount of wins he had. He played great tonight and made a few huge saves for his team and kept them right in it. I think the rivalry is more of a BU-BC thing than it is on a personal level.”
Welcome to the club
Winning the Beanpot is good enough for BC coach Jerry York, but the affable skipper of the club from the Heights was especially delighted for his underclassmen.
The Eagles upperclassmen have experienced winning championships prior to Monday’s victory, but the 12 freshmen and sophomores in uniform for BC Monday had never won any kind of championship with the Eagles.
“The significance of the game from my viewpoint was that we had a lot of players who had not won a trophy here at BC,” York said. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so, to win a trophy, I think it’s a catalyst for you club. The juniors and seniors have won a lot of championships.”
Cronin praises Rawlings
Northeastern defeated Harvard, 4-1, in the Beanpot consolation game Monday night.
A pair of goals from junior winger Wade MacLeod clinched the victory for the Huskies. Following the game, though, NU coach Greg Cronin spoke mostly about his goaltender.
“Brad Thiessen will go down as one of the best goaltenders in Northeastern history. Brad was known as a poised, level-headed goalie, and I really feel that Chris [Rawlings] has made some incredible strides especially after the Vermont game, when he had his worst outing of the year,” Cronin said following the win over Harvard.
The game Cronin alluded to came in Burlington, Vt., on Jan. 16. Vermont beat NU, 9-2. In that game, Cronin pulled Rawlings in favor of fellow freshman Bryan Mountain after he allowed five goals on 15 shots.
Shortly after his removal, Cronin re-inserted Rawlings after Mountain allowed two goals on five shots in just over 4 minutes of game action. His second stint in the game didn’t yield much better returns for the Huskies.
Four more shots. Two more goals. And one big loss to digest on a nice, long bus ride from Burlington to Boston.
Against Boston University last week, Rawlings made 33 saves. Despite the loss, Cronin took a look at the big picture. Again this week, it’s hard to revel much in consolation game win in the Beanpot, but Cronin liked what he saw from his rookie in goal.
“The first late game for a freshman – particularly against BU – with 17,000 people here is probably one of the most pressure-packed games a college hockey goalie will face, outside of a national championship,” Cronin said. “I thought his poise, his consistency, and his aggressiveness in the BU game were outstanding.
“His future looks extremely bright. I always tell goalies that I have a very short memory, so he puts this one in the bank and moves forward.”
The Huskies play a home-and-home pair with Massachusetts this weekend; Rawlings will likely start both games.
Warsofsky, Kreider shine again
BU sophomore defenseman David Warsofsky and BC freshman winger Chris Kreider both played for the gold medal-winning U.S. Junior National Team in the 2010 World Junior Championship in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, last month.
The pair shined for their respective teams on another huge stage Monday night. Both players scored highlight-reel goals that demonstrated their ability to alter the face of a game.
Kreider scored his seventh goal of the year as part of a three-goal second period for the Eagles. Moments after coming out of the penalty box, he breezed across the BU blue line and skated in on BU freshman defenseman Max NiCastro. A quick outside stride from Kreider opened NiCastro’s legs and shifted his weight to his outside leg; when Kreider cut back toward the BU goal, NiCastro had no chance.
“I thought it was a great play by [Kreider], and a not-so-great play by [NiCastro],” BU coach Jack Parker said. “He pivoted at the wrong time, and the guy walked right by him.”
Kreider skated into the low slot on his forehand before shifting to his backhand and tucking the puck between the post and Millan’s left pad.
Warsofsky’s goal started a BU comeback that fell just short. A Joe Pereira cross-checking minor put the BC on a power play, and unwittingly set the stage for Warsofky.
A 2-on-1 quickly led to a Warsofsky breakaway on Muse. He, like Kreider, moved in on his forehand before lifting the puck over Muse.
BU senior defenseman Colby Cohen’s late-game heroics are well documented. He nearly did again for the Terriers Monday night. With 2 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in regulation, the Terriers trailed BC, 4-2.
“Even at 4-1, none of us thought the game was finished yet,” York said. “BU put on a terrific surge there to make it a game that was in doubt right to the very final buzzer.”
A Tommy Cross hooking minor put BU on the power play, and BU coach Jack Parker opted to pull Millan in favor of an extra attacker.
A scrum in front of the net left Cohen all alone to Muse’s right. The puck kicked out to him, and he quickly lifted into the net to pull BU within one.
With seconds on the clock, BU’s Nick Bonino nearly tied the game. A quick wraparound attempt nearly hopped over Muse, but Bonino failed to lift it enough. Muse made the save to preserve the one-goal lead and eventual victory.
“We have a lot of confidence in each other,” BU senior defenseman Eric Gryba said. “There was no point where I thought we were hopeless and had no chance to come back and win.
“We had some bad bounces, but if Nick gets the puck up at the end then it goes in,” Gryba continued.
Throughout the season, Parker has praised the play of his pair of gifted freshman defensemen, Sean Esobedo and Max NiCastro. Both have played extensive minutes in all phases of the game for the Terriers this season.
Monday night, though, the pair struggled as the Terriers fell to the Eagles.
NiCastro was victimized badly on the Kreider goal and finished the game a minus-1.
“[Max] felt more embarrassed about it,” Parker said. “But I told him ‘Hey, park it. It’s over,’ and he went out and played well after it. That could’ve happened to a senior – getting beat in a 1-on-1 like that. It was a terrific play by Kreider and a tough play for our defenseman. Max NiCastro has had a fabulous freshman year and is going to be a star in this league.”
Escobedo struggled as well, and also fell victim to some bad luck.
After committing a holding minor late in the first period, he began the second period in the penalty box along with Colby Cohen. The Terriers successfully killed the 5-on-3, and Escobedo left the box.
BC freshman Steven Whitney took a shot from the right circle as Escobedo hustled back into his zone. He dove to block Whitney’s shot, but the puck kicked off the shaft of his stick and fluttered over Millan and into the net. The goal sparked a three-goal outburst from the Eagles.
“That could have easily happened to any one of use on the ice,” BU captain Kevin Shattenkirk said of Escobedo’s role in Whitney’s goal. “When it happens to a freshman, it’s tough because it can really shatter their confidence. But I think they really rebounded well.”