BOSTON — Boston University kept putting Northeastern on the power play in Monday night’s Beanpot final at TD Garden, and the Terriers paid dearly.
“The story of the game was power-play goals,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “They had three. We had none. Two offensive-zone penalties, which we just can’t have against that team.”
Northeastern’s power-play surge began in the first period shortly after Boston University opened the scoring. Huskies captain Nolan Stevens scored on the man advantage with a beautiful goal, giving him 22 tallies on the season.
Stevens’ linemate, Adam Gaudette, scored on the power play late in the first period to give Northeastern a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The Huskies went back on the power play with under a minute remaining in the second period. It was a chance to demoralize the Terriers with a late-period tally, and that’s what happened.
Gaudette scored his second power-play goal of the night with 3.5 seconds left on the clock to give Northeastern a 4-1 lead and make him the school’s career leader in power-play tallies with 31.
“The back-breaker was that fourth goal,” Quinn said. “I think we maybe thought the period was going to end, and that really kind of sucked the life out of us a little a bit. But we kept fighting, we kept competing.”
Northeastern’s power play — led by its top line of Gaudette, Stevens and Dylan Sikura — has been quite effective all season, but the unit had been struggling entering this tournament. Four of Northeastern’s eight goals in this year’s Beanpot came with the man advantage, so it’s safe to say this power play is firing on all cylinders again.
“We’re hitting at 25 percent, right? I think we’re No. 1 in Hockey East,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. “We’ve got good players, and we’ve got an associate coach in Jerry Keefe, who’s worked with this group for six years — just a tremendous offensive mind.
“We were 1-for-15 going into this tournament on the power play. We’ve had some good looks, and just some good goaltenders the last few games. But our confidence never wavered on the power play. You’d think when you’re 1-for-15 over the last four or five games that it might, and it never did. Jerry just stood with this group in terms of their mindset, and they have a lot of confidence and went 3-for-3.”
Northeastern is having a tremendous season and entered the Beanpot as the highest ranked team of the four participating schools in the polls. Could this historic Beanpot triumph propel the Huskies to even greater things in March and April?
“I think playing on a stage like this and playing as well as we did, winning a championship does a whole lot for your team,” Stevens said.
“Coach said before the game that when you win a championship you walk together forever. That’s the truth. I was fortunate enough to win with (Gaudette) a Hockey East championship. How close we are with those guys it’s pretty unbelievable. It’s just huge for us moving forward, bringing us closer as a group.”
Thumbnail photo via Nick Goss/NESN.com