Winning for Each Other
Decorated Seniors Leading the Way for BC
by Scott McLaughlin/Senior Writer
BOSTON With five and a half minutes to go in Monday's Beanpot championship, Boston College's Steven Whitney pulled up in the offensive zone and found a charging Michael Matheson at the blue line. Showing off moves that only a select few freshman defensemen can make, Matheson weaved through three Northeastern defenders before dishing to Johnny Gaudreau in front of the net for a goal that gave the Eagles some breathing room in an eventual 6-3 victory.
The win gave BC's seniors their fourth Beanpot title, making them the first class in program history to accomplish the feat. But just as important to the trophy-winning machine that BC has become, it gave Matheson and the rest of the freshmen their first.
"What impressed me most about our guys," said BC coach Jerry York, "was yesterday we were talking about winning four straight, and I think it was Patrick Wey who said, 'Hey, listen, we want to win for the freshmen. They've never won a trophy.' So they deflect that back. It's not just all about the senior class. I think that's pretty good. I like that in players."
The Eagles unquestionably have a culture of winning, and this year's seniors have certainly done their part to add to that culture. On top of the four Beanpots, they've already won three Hockey East tournament titles, two regular-season titles and, most importantly, two national championships.
But these seniors didn't build that culture themselves. They learned it when they were freshmen, playing on a team led by captains Matt Price, Ben Smith and Matt Lombardi — a team that won the Beanpot, Hockey East and NCAA tournaments. Now it's Pat Mullane, Steven Whitney and Patrick Wey doing the leading. Now they're the ones teaching the freshmen what it takes to win.
"I'm so incredibly proud of our club, specifically our senior class and our captains," York said. "They're really model citizens for Boston College hockey. I couldn't think of three better people to put up here at the mic to really reflect all the intrinsic values of our team."
As the trio sat at those microphones following Monday's win, it was easy to see the truth in York's words — they were just as excited about the freshmen winning their first trophy as they were about their own class adding to its impressive collection.
"For our seniors, we're all so excited," Whitney said. "This is awesome for us. It's awesome that we all did it together. And we're excited that our freshmen got a Beanpot. We gave the rest of the guys a chance to go four in a row, too."
Matheson provided the final nail in the coffin with his highlight-reel setup, but BC's seniors also came through with several plays that helped stem the tide whenever it looked like Northeastern was on the verge of a breakthrough.
One shift after cutting BC's lead to 2-1 with his fourth goal of the tournament, Northeastern's Kevin Roy had a chance to tie it when he came off the bench and immediately found himself on a breakaway. Parker Milner wasn't fooled by Roy's forehand-backhand move, though, and the senior goalie came up with a huge glove save.
Just a couple shifts after that, the Eagles took a 3-1 lead. Then with time running out in the second, Whitney took a pass from Bill Arnold and found the back of the net with less than a second left on the clock.
The Huskies mounted a comeback in the third and scored twice in the period's first four minutes to pull within one and regain the momentum they lost at the end of the second. Then they had another breakaway with a chance to tie the game. This time it was Garrett Vermeersch, but once again Milner came up big. That save certainly helped settle the Eagles down, but they were never panicked anyways. After all, they've been in, and won, games like this before.
"I think it's a true testament to the guys in the locker room," Mullane said. "It starts at the top, obviously, with our coaching staff. We give up those two goals early in the third period, but I don't think anyone started to panic. There was no negativity on our bench, no one hitting the panic button.
"I think everyone stayed composed and understood what our job was. I think we executed pretty well after that, and we played some really good hockey after those two goals. Everyone stayed relaxed on the bench. Those are the kinds of things that make teams successful, and have made us successful in this tournament over the last few years."
And now, like their teammates before them, the freshmen are learning that. The foundation is being laid for more success over the next few years.