Boston College’s Top Line Spurs Win Over BU, Spot In Beanpot Final

Johnny GaudreauBOSTON — The best line in college hockey propelled Boston College (20-4-3) to a school-record fifth consecutive Beanpot final with a 3-1 victory over archrival Boston University (8-15-3) at TD Garden on Monday night.

The sensational trio of Kevin Hayes, Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau combined for two goals and three assists to set up a rematch of last year’s title game with Northeastern.

“The Gaudreau, Arnold, Hayes line is so dangerous. Every time they go out there, I hold my breath,” Terriers coach David Quinn said.

Just over a minute into the second period, BC doubled its lead when Hayes scored off a pretty cross-crease pass from Arnold. After BU trimmed the BC advantage to 2-1 early in the third period, Arnold picked up another assist when he set up Gaudreau for a game-clinching empty-net goal. It was a typical performance from a line that has posted an astounding 76 points (29 goals, 47 assists) in the last 13 games.

Gaudreau entered Monday’s semifinal as the leading scorer in Division I with 51 points in 26 games, and the Calgary Flames prospect added two more points (empty-net goal, assist) to his total against BU. He also extended his point streak to 22 games, the longest in the nation. The junior forward has scored 21 goals with 24 assists in that span, and the Eagles are 17-0-1 when he finds the back of the net.

The way Gaudreau uses his speed to explode into the attacking zone is remarkable. His quick hands allow him to dangle past defensemen in tight spaces and maintain control of the puck against bigger, stronger opponents. His playing style is quite similar to former Flames winger Theo Fleury, who scored 30-plus goals nine times despite his 5-foot-6 stature.

“It’s fun to watch Johnny G, isn’t it?” BC coach Jerry York said. “He shocks me with some of the things he does with the puck. He certainly was our catalyst tonight.”

Gaudreau gets most of the headlines with his dominant play, but linemates Hayes and Arnold have been just as consistent this season. Hayes has tallied 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in the last 14 games and ranks second in Division I scoring with 46 points. Arnold is in fifth place with 38 points.

The Gaudreau line will be the biggest hurdle for Northeastern when it tries to keep Boston College from its fifth straight Beanpot crown Feb. 10.

Improved Northeastern Team Awaits BC In Beanpot Final

Northeastern (15-8-3) advanced to its second consecutive Beanpot final with a dominant 6-0 victory over Harvard in the first semifinal Monday night. Huskies coach Jim Madigan has done a tremendous job building a deep, talented roster that’s playing with a ton of confidence right now.

“Jim has got some really special players — Josh Manson and Kevin Roy,” York said. “They’re getting excellent goaltending from Clay Witt. It’s no surprise they’ve won so many games this year. I think Jim feels this is by far the best team they’ve had since he’s been there.”

BC defeated Northeastern 6-3 in last year’s final, but the upcoming matchup should be a lot closer. This Huskies team is well-structured defensively and has more scoring depth than last season’s squad.

Eagles Goalie Thatcher Demko Plays Like Veteran In First Beanpot Game

Boston College has produced a lot of talented goal scorers over the last decade, but one common denominator among its championship teams is quality goaltending. Thatcher Demko showed the poise of a veteran in his first career Beanpot game, and Monday’s scoreline would have looked a lot different had he not thwarted several odd-man rushes. The freshman goaltender finished with 27 saves — eight in the final 20 minutes.

“A lot of our good defense tonight was the play of Thatcher,” York said. “He’s been a good goaltender for a lot of years. I don’t think it’s a surprise he could handle something like this and play well.”

Jerry York (left) and Thatcher Demko answer questions from media Monday night.

Jerry York (left) and Thatcher Demko answer questions from media Monday night.

Demko has a 9-1-2 record, a .930 save percentage and a 1.89 goals against average (fifth-best in the country) this season. His consistent play in net and ability to make clutch third-period saves instills a ton of confidence in his teammates and takes some of the pressure off them in big games.

“Thatcher, as I watch him, he’s getting more confidence,” York said. “He reminds me an awful lot of [New Jersey Devils goaltender and BC alum] Cory Schneider at the same age.”

If Demko plays like Schneider for the rest of the season, the Eagles likely will capture their sixth NCAA championship.

Photo via Twitter/JustinBerlPhoto