Boston College’s Experience Plays Key Role in Thrilling Beanpot Win Over Northeastern

BOSTON — It’s not Boston College’s problem that Northeastern is mired in the skids of an historic Beanpot drought, so the Eagles were perfectly fine with playing the role of spoilers during Monday night’s championship game at TD Garden.

BC skated away with a 7-6 overtime victory to win its 16th Beanpot crown, and the game was as dramatic as the tournament has ever seen. The teams were never separated by more than one goal, and the Valentine’s Day bout was a heart-stopper with five lead changes. Twenty-two players combined to score 36 points, and it was also the first 7-6 score in the 59-year history of the Beanpot title game.

And as hard as each team fought through 60 minutes of regulation, the outcome seemed to be decided when Boston College and Northeastern took the ice for six minutes of overtime, which were heavily dominated by the more experienced Eagles, who weren’t fazed by the pro-Northeastern crowd that was pulling hard for the underdog. BC was the villain in this episode of the Beanpot, and it felt little sympathy for NU’s struggles.

Northeastern looked tight, maybe overcome by the moment and the drought that is the talk of Huntington Avenue for two weeks every year. BC, meanwhile, won its second consecutive Beanpot — surviving in a 4-3 thriller against Boston University in the 2010 final, and then again in a 3-2 overtime thriller in last week’s first round against the Terriers — and is also the defending national champions.

“It’s experience we have from our three seniors who have been in big game after big game in their four years here,” said junior forward Jimmy Hayes, who scored the game-winner. “They’re calm, and it rubs off. Last year, going through that run is going to help us as we keep going into these big games.”

Boston College didn’t play a perfect game — far from it, really — but those 15 minutes between the third period and overtime were nothing new. It’s easy for them to collect themselves because the vast majority of the Eagles have been in these situations a number of times. Even the two freshmen in BC’s lineup, forwards Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes, gained experience in last week’s Beanpot classic, and each registered a point Monday against Northeastern.

On the flip side, Northeastern’s drought will extend into a 24th year. The only longer one in Beanpot history? The 28 years it took the Huskies to win their first Beanpot title.

BC has had a role in that, eliminating the Huskies in seven Beanpots since 1988, but this was the first time in that span that BC beat Northeastern in the championship.

That was about the only thing these Eagles didn’t have experience in, but there was enough on their recent résumé to get them geared up for the overtime winner.

“The never-too-high, never-too-low mentality, we buy into the rollercoaster of the game,” said sophomore forward Chris Kreider, who was the MVP of the tournament. “[The seniors] are battle-tested. They’ve seen all different kinds of games, all different kinds of environments, so they know you’re never out of it and the other team is never out of it. I think that helps in a game like this.”

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