Amonte Sends BU to Beanpot Title Game
BOSTON The hardest thing about being Ty Amonte is that he's not Tony Amonte.
He's a freshman. He's a hockey player at Boston University. Just like Tony, his father was, long ago. You may've heard of him. When Tony was a freshman, he scored 25 goals and assisted on 33 more.
Ty's never going to put up numbers like that, and that's fine. There are others in BU's lineup meant to assume that role. You know their names because you heard them called by NHL executives in the summers before their freshman or sophomore years at Boston University.
Jordan Greenway. Brady Tkachuk. Shane Bowers. Dante Fabbro. Everybody knows those guys. They knew Jack Eichel and Clayton Keller and Charlie McAvoy before them.
It's the players like Ty Amonte that BU needs more of.
In Monday's Beanpot semifinal, BU's big names played their roles in overcoming a wretched first 40 minutes and seizing control of the game for the Terriers. But they couldn't do it alone. BU needs help from the rest of its lineup.
They need help from Ty Amonte.
And that's been a theme at times for BU in the last few seasons. The talent is as rich as it is anywhere in the country. That's exactly the way BU coach Dave Quinn wants it. The rub, however, is there sometimes isn't enough from the Ty Amontes of the world. The kinds of players who can't help but view Boston University as the destination rather than a stop along the way. The kinds of players who grew up wanting to play for BU as badly as they wanted to play in the NHL.
Teams that win championships in college hockey need their best, most talented players to perform. They also need reliable contributors throughout the lineup. Players whose skill sets mean they can be trusted in the most pivotal of moments.
Amonte scored at 1:55 of the second overtime in Monday night's semifinal, sending BU to next week's title game with favorite Northeastern.
The moments before Amonte's goal defined his place and role for the Terriers just as much as the strike. A hustle play helped him gain posession at the top of the Terriers' attacking zone and he smartly darted into the neutral zone instead of making a dangerous pass that presented itself as he skated toward center ice.
From there, he cleared his lines, gained a zone entry with speed, took his defender wide and fired a low, hard shot near post. The shot caught Harvard's Merrick Madsen off guard and sent BU through to the 2018 Boston city championship.
It wasn't the prettiest goal. It wasn't flashy. No NHL scout is going to think more of Ty Amonte because of the shot. But it worked.
Since Quinn took over his alma mater's program in 2013, the Terriers have routinely brought in the best recruiting classes in the country.
They've also underachieved almost every season.
The 2014-15 year, when Jack Eichel brought BU to the national title game only to fall short because of one of the great follies in college hockey, has largely been an anomaly.
That year, the Terriers won everything they could've before that unfortunate night at TD Garden. They won the Hockey East regular-season and postseason titles. They won the Beanpot just as well.
In Quinn's other three seasons, the Terriers have only a share of a Hockey East regular-season title and one NCAA tournament win to their credit. It's hardly a drought, but it's not what people expected when Quinn took the job either, nor when they saw the list of names he brought to Agganis Arena.
Monday night, the first 40 minutes looked awfully familar for the Terriers. They looked disinterested at times, rudderless in the others. After 40 minutes, they were tied with Harvard, 1-1, if only because sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger (47 saves) made it so and the hockey gods decided to give the Terriers a little rope.
It's been like that for long stretches since Eichel departed for Buffalo. The Terriers often dazzle. They fail to deliver just as frequently, though.
Lately, the results have started to reveal a BU team that has learned from a lot of its mistakes. BU is unbeaten in its last eight games, going 7-0-1 in that stretch. This is the same BU team that didn't win consecutive games at any point in the entire first half of the season.
Heading into the most decisive days and weeks of the college hockey calendar, BU finally looks like the kind of team that could make a realistic run at the trophies and distinctions for which BU is supposed to compete.
The names everyone knows have certainly contributed. Greenway, Tkachuk and Oettinger were three of the best players on the ice Monday night. Dante Fabbro's game has elevated of late as well. Losing Greenway to the Olympics isn't going to help, but that's another matter entirely.
BU needs the rest of its lineup to contribute if it's going to make a late push for a Hockey East regular-season title or compete for the league's playoff championship.
So, yeah, sometimes Ty Amonte's biggest problem is that he isn't the same kind of player his father was. But, Monday night, Ty Amonte was exactly what BU needed.
And they'll need even more of him the rest of the way.