62nd Boston Beanpot: BC Claims Fifth-Straight Beanpot Crown, Tops NU 4-1

By Matt Noonan 

BOSTON, Mass. – For the fifth consecutive year, Boston College skated around the TD Garden with the coveted Boston Beanpot cup following their 4-1 victory over Northeastern University.

The win marked the third time in four seasons that the Eagles have topped the Huskies in the tournament’s final and claimed some additional hardware.

“It is something that we strive for and when you accomplish something you strive for it’s a real proud moment,” said Boston College head coach Jerry York, who has guided the Eagles to eight Beanpot championship victories in 15 attempts. “I think a quality we have is we’re happy for other peoples’ success, which is a hard quality to possess.

“Our seniors were talking about how it was great to win four straight as a class, but it was better to look at the freshman and see them win it for the first time. I think that is great that our team can be happy for each others’ success.”

Boston College has a lot to be happy about, especially after their team’s 22nd win. The Eagles, who’ve now won 19 Beanpot championships, will look to continue their momentum heading into the final stretch of the regular season.

BC is currently the top squad in the country and hasn’t dropped a contest since falling to Holy Cross after Thanksgiving.

“Everyone’s working hard every day in practice, no one is taking days off and no one hiding,” said BC senior captain Patrick Brown, who netted two goals last night, including the go-ahead strike at 14:30 in the third period.

“We’ve got talented guys, but they’ve got to work hard too and the guys with less talent have got to work harder.”

The Eagles worked hard for their team’s eighth consecutive win by setting up scoring chances, while assisting first-year goaltender Thatcher Demko, who finished with 29 saves.

“Each possession was just huge for each team,” said Demkow, who is now 11-1-2 between the pipes. “You never knew what was going to happen with guys going up and down the ice here and there, so it was a really fast paced game and a really fun game to be a part of.”

BC’s Kevin Hayes provided the Eagles with a 1-0 lead from the top of the slot during the first period before Northeastern answered in the middle frame with John Stevens, who redirected a shot attempt from Kevin Roy, which sailed past Demko.

The 1-1 tie concluded during the final minutes of the third period when Brown tipped a shot attempt by Isaac MacLeod from the point into the Huskies cage, which provided the Eagles with all the momentum.

“Isaac MacLeod works really hard and he’s always shooting for sticks, he’s got a great shot pass,” said Brown. “I was just trying to find a spot in the slot where he could hit my stick. I was getting mauled a little bit and I fell down, but just got my stick on it because he made a great tape-to-tape pass.”

Northeastern attempted to even the score and force an extra session, but a turnover in the neutral zone with less than two minutes to play resulted in an open net goal by Johnny Gaudreau, which sealed the win.

Brown scored his team’s final goal literally 30 seconds after Gaudreau’s strike when he raced down the nearside wing and flipped the puck past Northeastern goaltender Clay Witt.

“In the third period we just couldn’t match their speed in that third and they came at us and we didn’t have a quick enough response to that,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. “I thought we did a good job actually on their winning goal in tying up Brown down at the net and he was falling and he had a stick and somehow he got a stick on it and scored the winning goal.

“So, congratulations to (Boston College) and we’ve got another rabbit to chase – we’re chasing a Beanpot rabbit and we’re chasing a Hockey East playoff opportunity. So, we’ll take a day off and then get ready for UMass on Saturday.”

While Northeastern will have an additional day to prepare for the Minutemen, a squad that recently defeated them 3-0, Boston College will get back to work on Friday when they travel to Vermont for a weekend series with the Mountaineers.

Both teams aren’t schedule to face-off again this season, but could meet in the Hockey East playoffs.

62nd Boston Beanpot: BC 3, BU 1 (Game Summary)

By Matt Noonan 

BOSTON, Mass. – Boston College punched its ticket to its fifth straight Boston Beanpot championship as the Eagles defeated archrival Boston University, 3-1, in the tournament’s semifinal on Monday evening at the TD Garden.

With the win, the Eagles advance to next Monday’s championship against Northeastern, a squad they defeated last season, 6-3. BC also defeated Northeastern in the 2011 championship, 7-6 (OT).

Ryan Fitzgerald, Kevin Hayes and Johnny Gaudreau each netted goals for the Eagles, while Thatcher Demko deflected 27 of 28 shots between the pipes.

“He’s been a good goaltender for a lot of years,” Boston College head coach Jerry York said of his team’s netminder. “I don’t think it was a surprise that he could handle something like this (game).”

The shot Demko was unable to defend, though, was a strike from the top of the slot by BU’s Robbie Baillargeon at 6:43 in the third period, which was assisted by Danny O’Regan. That tally sliced the deficit and brought the Terriers within one point, but it didn’t spark any additional strikes as the Eagles defense turned away potential scoring chances before Gaudreau sealed the win by flipping the puck into an empty net with 30 seconds remaining.

Gaudreau, who entered the contest with a 21 game point-streak, extended it the streak to 22 games. He currently leads the Hockey East in point scoring with 53 points (24 goals and 29 assists), as well as all Division 1 hockey players in goals and points.

“It’s fun to watch Johnny G.,” said York with a big smile. “If you like hockey, see what he does with the puck, (especially by) the plays he makes.

“Sometimes he even shocks us with some of the things he does with the puck and he certainly was a catalyst for us tonight.”

BC, which has now defeated BU three times this season, will look to earn its third straight win over the Huskies this season. In their prior meetings, which took place in November, the Eagles defeated the Huskies, 4-2 and 4-3.

Yet, despite two early season victories, York knows Northeastern will provide challenges for the Eagles.

Jim (Madigan) has done a terrific job with his club,” said York. “There’s no surprise that they’ve won so many games this year. They’ve got a really good club.”

As for BU, they’ll look to bounce back in the consolation match next Monday, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. They’ll be facing Harvard, a squad that defeated them in the same game last season, 7-4.

“We certainly understood the challenge we had tonight and I can’t tell you how proud I am of our team. I thought we were ready to play from the get-go,” said Boston University head coach David Quinn. “We competed from the drop of the puck until the whistle blew.

“I said to them, ‘We’ve still got a lot of hockey left.’ There was nothing I was going to say that was going to make them feel better, but the season isn’t over, we need to build on this, we’ve got nine games left I think and we’ve set the bar a little bit higher than we’ve been playing lately, so we’ve got to make sure that we take this approach, not only during the Beanpot when we’re playing BC, but for the rest of this season. If we do that we’re going to crawl back into this thing and put ourselves in a good position.”

62nd Boston Beanpot: Northeastern 6, Harvard 0 (Game Summary)

By Matt Noonan 

BOSTON, Mass. – For the second straight year, Northeastern will compete for the Beanpot trophy as the Huskies skated past Harvard, 6-0, in the first contest of Monday’s double-header at the TD Garden.

Northeastern hasn’t claimed the tournament crown since defeating Boston University in 1988. They appeared in the championship game last season, but lost to Boston College, 6-3. They also fell to the Eagles in the 2011 title match in overtime.

“Well, obviously happy with the win,” said Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan.

“This first game is the game that gives you the opportunity to win the Beanpot and I know our guys were really prepared coming in.”

Mike Szmatula registered three points in his team’s win, one goal and two assists. He recorded back-to-back helpers in the second period by setting up both Torin Snydeman and Braden Pimm, two players that helped Northeastern balloon its first period lead into a 4-0 advantage after two periods.

Dalen Hedges provided Northeastern with the lead for good in the opening session by firing home a shot from the far left circle before Kevin Roy doubled his team’s advantage with a power play goal.

Roy, who was the most valuable player (MVP) of last year’s tournament, has now registered six goals in three tournament games, including his first period strike.

“I just thought our guys were really ready to go,” said Madigan. “When you have the confidence that we were playing with because of our goaltending it allows us to do some things offensively and continue to get some pucks to the net, so overall obviously happy with the win (because) it gives us an opportunity to be in the championship against either a good BU or BC team.”

Northeastern finished the contest with 38 shots, while Harvard recorded 27. Both teams combined for 76 penalty minutes, which is the most penalty minutes in a tournament game since BC and Harvard combined for 74 minutes in 2010.

Clay Witt, who has started in 22 games this season for the Huskies, earned his fourth-career shutout by deflecting 27 shots. Harvard’s Raphael Girard finished with 21 saves.

“Give Northeastern credit, they played a simple, strong game (and we) never really (were) able to get anything going,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We lost battles all over the ice.”

Northeastern will skate against the winner of Boston College-Boston University next Monday at 7:30 p.m., while Harvard will face-off against the losing squad at 4:30 p.m.

Mass. College Hockey: Catching Up With NU Head Coach Jim Madigan

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan is optimistic about the Huskies upcoming season! (Photo Credit: HockeyEastOnline.com)

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan is optimistic about the Huskies upcoming season! (Photo Credit: HockeyEastOnline.com)

By Matt Noonan 

During last week’s Hockey East men’s ice hockey media day, Noontime Sports caught up with Northeastern University head coach Jim Madigan, who has high hopes for the Huskies this season. Madigan chatted about the team’s outlook and goals for the upcoming campaign in an interview we’ve provided below.

On starting a new season: “I think if you polled most of the coaches at this time of the year, we’re all excited. I think we’re all looking forward to a new beginning and so are our players. We’ve got a lot of younger freshmen and sophomores, but with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement on campus and our older guys have come back and led the way (with) off ice training last spring and beginning of this year. It’s a new league with the addition of Notre Dame, another quality opponent of course and (we) can’t wait to get going.”

On building on the past two seasons: “Certainly you know the league much better and I knew the league, but from a different perspective from watching in the stands, but now you’re there every day. The biggest thing is that each and every night you have to get your guys to play hard each and every night and that’s an easy thing to say, but the way this league is set up and built there’s no easy night.

“The biggest thing for me with our staff and players is having gone through a little bit of transition with the personnel, we have players that understand the culture that we want to create here at Northeastern for Northeastern hockey. We’ve got players who’ve bought into the direction and the philosophy that we’re going in college hockey. We are all on the same page where we want to get to and when you don’t make the playoffs two years in a row, I think that sends a clear message that we weren’t good enough and the only way we’re going to be better is if we work harder because the other teams are going to continue working hard, so we’ve got to work harder, we’ve got to work smarter and we’ve got to dedicate ourselves a little more.”

On playing 60 minutes of hockey: “So playing 60 minutes of hockey is something that we didn’t do last year and will be an emphasis on this year. Before I touch on the goals, we need to be better defensively. We gave up the most goals in Hockey East last year and that’s an area we need to be vastly improved on and we will be and it’s just not our goaltender (with that) responsibility, (but) it’s team defense. I think our team defense has to improve, it’s been the emphasis since the beginning of training camp beginning two weeks ago and that falls with our goaltender and our defense and our forwards.

“I like our offense. I believe we’re going to have enough offense to score goals and last year there was times of the year where we didn’t score, but there were enough games where we had chances and the ability to score enough goals to win, but we just couldn’t keep it out of our own net.”

On improving on defense: “Last year we played four first-year players. A sophomore transfer and then three freshmen defensemen, not all those defensemen were (on the ice) at the same time because of injuries, but they learned an awful lot last year (and) probably played more minutes than normally they’re used to playing, so they’ve grown from that and they’ve developed it and learned from that so I’m excited about them coming back and you can see it in these (past) two weeks of practice (and) how much more mature they are out on the ice.

“When you infuse a Matt Benning, who is an incoming freshman and a draft choice of the Boston Bruins two seasons ago, but now he’s with us, a 19-year-old freshman, who I expect to come into play and play some quality minutes. I like our blend of defensemen there and they are and have improved (with) their puck moving skills, so that our transition offense will be much better this year.”

On players to watch on offense: “If you look at last year, I think one of the hottest players in the Hockey East was Cody Ferriero, who had I think 20 points in 20 games and I think it was – he had 12 goals and he only had one the first half, so we had 11 goals in his last 20 (games), so I’m expecting him to build on that and Cody had a good sophomore year, (but) it was interrupted because he missed the first seven games and then he got hurt and missed the last nine games of the season, so in 16 games as a sophomore he had nine goals. If you project that (equation it’s) a goal every two games, but he’s a 17 goal scorer, which is where I think he is, he’s a 15-20 goal scorer and he’s looked really good. He’s a senior and he wants this year to be really good and he’s got a freshmen brother that he’s trying to show the way for in a leadership capacity and that’s also a good thing.

“I’m also expecting real good things from Braden Pimm coming back and getting back to his sophomore production. (Another player is) Kevin Roy. People know how gifted (Kevin) is offensively and he’s ready for a breakout year. He was the freshmen point getter in all of college hockey last year up until seven games left, so I am looking for him to take it to the next level because quite frankly he has the ability to do so.

“(Other players to watch include) Adam Reid, who finished on a strong second half, Mike McMurtry, who will pick up from where he (left off last) year, so I think we have enough offensive guys coming back and then with the (addition) of five or six good freshmen who will play with those sophomore and juniors and seniors will help them out (to) make an impact.”

On playing at Fenway Park this winter: “From an institutional perspective it’s a great opportunity. If you look at where we’re located, we’re right beside the Red Sox, we’re a partner with the Boston Red Sox and now we’ve got the ability to go back in and play our second time in three years. It’s a wonderful experience for our kids and for our alumni and student body and our kids are going to embrace it. We had a real good game there two years ago against Boston College and unfortunately we came up on the short end of a 2-1 game, but we had 29,000 fans there and our kids walked away with a great memory, so we’ve got to turn that now into a great memory and two points, but when you look at it this year we’re going to play at two of the three best venues (in Massachusetts), Fenway Park and the Boston Garden. If they asked us to play at Gillette (Stadium), we’ll play at Gillette also, so we’re fortunate.”

Mass. College Hockey: Vermont Skates Past Northeastern, 2-1

By Matt Noonan 

BOSTON, MA – The last time these two squads met, Vermont relied on a pair of goals from Chris McCarthy, which helped the Catamounts get past Northeastern University.

On Friday, Vermont didn’t need McCarthy, but instead one goal each from Jacob Fallon and Ben Albertson to secure a 2-1 win over the Huskies at Matthews Arena.

“Well, congratulations to Vermont for winning and getting the two points,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan.

“I thought our effort in the first two periods was awful (and I) was disappointed in some of our older guys and how they played and didn’t step up. It was a key game, a game that was for us a desperation, trying to get back into the playoff hunt and we didn’t respond until we got into the third period, but you can’t win a game in this league by playing one period.”

The Huskies entered the contest looking to avenge Monday’s frustrating loss to Boston College in the 61st Boston Beanpot, but instead squandered offensive opportunities, which allowed the Catamounts to pick up their third road win of the season.

“I think we found a way to win (this game) on the road against a team that was desperate. I think Northeastern is a very good hockey team, I thought they battled their hearts out tonight, and I think our men did the same,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon.

Despite a slow start to their 26th game of the season, Northeastern managed to earn the lead off a shot from Adam Reid on the team’s first power play. Cody Ferriero slid the puck past Vermont goaltender Brody Hoffman (26 saves) in the crease, and Reid wound up not once, but twice, which gave the Huskies a one-goal advantage.

“I didn’t think we had a lot of energy (following our first goal) on the ice and I didn’t think we had a good forecheck going,” said Madigan. “

“I just wasn’t happy at all (during) the first two periods. It was lackluster, it lacked energy for a game of this magnitude where desperation of trying to get points in the league, (and) we’re at home and we haven’t played well lately, (so) that effort is not acceptable.”

Vermont evened the score roughly four minutes later when Fallon deposited a rebound following a shot from Nick Luukko, who slapped the puck from the point, which bounced off the Northeastern netminder Chris Rawlings (32 saves) left pad.

The Catamounts doubled their goal total at 11:29 in the second when Albertson received a pass in the zone from Caylen Walls and fired the puck past Rawlings.

Vermont’s second goal proved to be the difference, as it energized the Catamounts toward trying to grow their lead, but unfortunately they were denied by the Northeastern backstop.

“(Chris) played well,” said Madigan. “I thought in the first two periods there he was tested a lot more and I thought he made some key saves for us, and I thought in the third period there was a little less traffic around the net, but a little less in terms of quality chances in the third period, but yeah he gave us a chance, kept us in their like that first goal, (which is) one he probably should have (stopped).”

Northeastern exhibited more energy during the final frame, but also desperation to tie the game, too. It really wasn’t until their final power play of the game where the Huskies created chances, but Hoffman managed to turn away shots from Kevin Roy and Vinny Saponari to seal the victory.

“I thought (Hoffman) was excellent,” said Sneddon. “He actually made (a key save toward the end) and we left the guy to tap in the rebound, so I thought he was again one of our MVP’s if not the MVP tonight. He just gives us a chance to win every time he plays.”

With the win, Vermont improves to 9-14-4 overall and 6-10-4 in the Hockey East, while Northeastern drops to 8-15-3 and 4-12-3.

Both squads will meet for the final time this season tomorrow evening at the Matthews; face-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.