February 2, 2010 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Beanpot Semis Notebook

by Joe Meloni/CHN Reporter

BOSTON — Next Monday night, Boston College and Boston University will meet for the 20th time in the Beanpot Championship game.

The Eagles defeated Harvard, 6-0, in the early game Monday night at the TD Garden. BU outlasted Northeastern for a 2-1 thanks to a late goal from freshman Alex Chiasson and 25 saves from sophomore goaltender Kieran Millan.

Harvard and Northeastern will play in the Beanpot Consolation game at 5 p.m. before the Eagles and Terriers meet for coveted trophy at 8 p.m.

The latest installment in the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue will be the fourth meeting in the fourth different venue between the two schools this season. Thus far, BU has holds the edge – the Terriers defeated the Eagles, 3-2, at Fenway Park on Jan. 8 and 5-4 in overtime at Kelley Rink on Jan. 22.

“I don’t think there’s anything that compares to a Beanpot,” BU coach Jack Parker said following Monday’s semifinal win. “The emotion that will be in this building one week from [Monday] will be unbelievable. In fact, we’ve already had three great games with [BC].”

The Eagles, who are seeking their first Beanpot Championship since 2008, have put their tough defeat to Northeastern in the semifinal last season behind them. NU defeated BC, 6-1, to advance to the championship last season.

Just shoot it

Following Northeastern’s loss to BU, NU coach Greg Cronin was understandably disappointed. The Huskies, led by freshman goaltender Chris Rawlings (33 saves), fought hard throughout the matchup.

Senior forward Kyle Kraemer, NU’s leading scorer, scored at 9 minutes, 34 seconds of the third period to tie the game, 1-1. Kraemer’s goal came on a shot from the midpoint that found its way through a screen set by Wade MacLeod and BU goaltender Kieran Millan.

However, Cronin was unhappy with his team’s unwillingness to shoot the puck when it’s forecheck and strong defense created quality scoring chances.

“My biggest problem was, anytime we had an odd-man rush or an even-man rush, we wouldn’t shoot the damn puck,” he said. “Right before Wade MacLeod had a penalty called on him, he was standing in the slot, but he wouldn’t shoot it. [NU assistant coach] Albie O’Connell was up above, and he kept radioing down ‘why won’t they shoot the puck.’ If you reflect back on the game, I would say, conservatively, we had six chances with the puck on our stick in front of BU’s net and we refused to shoot the puck.”

With 1:28 remaining in regulation, BU redshirt freshman Ross Gaudet was sent off for hooking. Cronin pulled Rawlings in favor of the extra attacker. NU possessed the puck in the BU zone for a majority of the final 90 seconds, managing a single shot on goal.

“Part of it was [BU] was doing a good job of getting their bodies in the shots lanes,” Cronin said. “But part of it was us trying to pick a better apple. In a game like this, it was a playoff type game, when you get a scoring chance in the slot, you have to shoot the puck.”

Keeping it going

It’s been six games since BC coach Jerry York placed junior center Brian Gibbons between wingers Joe Whitney and Cam Atkinson. In those six games, BC is 4-2-0, including Monday night’s 6-0 win over Harvard in the first Beanpot Semifinal.

Entering the game, the trio had combined for 23 points on 10 goals and 13 assists in those five games. After their sixth game together, the totals not stand at 26 points. Gibbons, BC’s leading scorer, scored his 10th goal of the season at 13:05 of the third period to make it 5-0; Atkinson assisted on Gibbons’ goal.

The three players posses such unique, yet complimentary talents, that defenses struggle to matchup with them.

“They’re a great line,” BC captain Matt Price, who scored the Eagles' second goal against Harvard, said. “The skill level out there is unbelievable. They are the type of players that always have their heads up; they see things the average player doesn’t see. They seem to have a sense where guys will be before the puck even leaves their stick.”

Gibbons, the shifty playmaking pivot, is capable of distributing the puck as well as finishing. His ability to move the puck in tight spaces and create for himself and his linemates provides an offensive dimension that most defensemen cannot handle. Meanwhile Whitney’s patience and vision allow him to manipulate defensemen to find room both Gibbons and Atkinson.

Atkinson, the sophomore who the leads the Eagles with 16 goals, just has that intangible ability to score goals.

Gibbons' two points give him seven all-time in six Beanpot games (four goals and three assists. In 2008, Gibbons was named tournament MVP as the Eagles won their 14th Beanpot Championship.

“He’s just a really good player,” York said. “He was the MVP in 2008, but he continues to progress as a player. I think in any type of game that we play, he’s going to be a factor. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be a real factor like he was tonight. I thought he was terrific. His quickness and his ability to distribute the puck, that’s something you can’t teach.”

Not the same Harvard

Harvard coach Ted Donato helped the 1988-89 Crimson win the Beanpot. The Crimson went on to win the national championship with a 4-3 win over Minnesota in overtime.

Since, the Crimson managed just one Beanpot Championship. Harvard won the 1993 tournament, and have advanced to the championship game only three times.

There wasn’t much buzz on the Harvard campus surrounding the tournament. Donato cited the program’s recent struggles as the primary reason following the loss to Boston College.

“I think the atmosphere on campus is reflective of how the team is doing most of the time,” he said. “We haven’t had a great season record-wise. We’ve certainly built some positive momentum over the last month. This is a tough pill to swallow, but we’re trying to get back to the point where we come into the Beanpot with a real strong record and have a chance to win.”

With the loss, Harvard fell to 5-12-3 for the season, and the Crimson have finished under .500 in two of the last three seasons.

Parker wants parity

BU coach Jack Parker doesn’t mind winning Beanpot Championships. However, the coach who won three Beanpot titles while playing for the Terriers and 21 since taking the program over in 1973 believes that Northeastern and Harvard must contend for the title for the tournament’s long-term success.

Harvard’s championship drought reached 17 years following its loss to Boston College. Northeastern, however, currently has the longest winless drought; NU last won the Beanpot in 1988.

“The Beanpot is losing its luster a little bit if it’s constantly going to be BU and BC,” Parker said. “We dodged a bullet tonight. These teams are real good hockey programs – Harvard and Northeastern – and people are going to get tired of [BU and BC].”

To wit: BU has played in 42 of the last 47 Beanpot Championship games.

Notes: BC goaltender Chris Venti made his second consecutive appearance in relief of goaltender John Muse in a Beanpot Semifinal. The Needham, Mass., native entered the game with 2:34 remaining in regulation. The two Beanpot appearances are the only games the sophomore has ever appeared in … Between the two games, Boston College forward Bob Sweeney, Northeastern goaltender Tim Marshall and Harvard administrator Fran Toland were inducted into the Beanpot Hall of Fame.

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