BOSTON — How do you explain the Beanpot to an outsider?
Yes, these are big regular season games between bitter crosstown rivals. But until players step out on to the TD Garden ice, with the raucous roars of their school’s royal rooters raining down from the 300’s, it’s hard to describe.
And taking on a stage this grand for the first time as an 18- or 19-year-old can be daunting.
But on opening night of the 67th installment of Boston’s hallowed college hockey tournament, the rookies shined bright.
Freshmen netted the game-winning goals in each semifinal as Boston College clipped Harvard 2-1, and Northeastern rose to a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over Boston University on Monday. The Eagles and Huskies will square off in the championship game next Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NESN.
Boston College was propelled into their first Beanpot final since 2016 with help from some players making their tournament debuts.
Freshman Patrick Giles netted his first career goal to give the Eagles the lead in the first period. Freshmen Oliver Wahlstrom and Jack McBain connected on the game-winner in the third period, with Wahlstrom finding McBain in the slot for the goal.
“Our freshman, we really rely on those guys and it was huge that they came up strong tonight,” said senior winger Graham McPhee, who notched an assist on Giles’ goal. “Like I said, we all trust each other, and we think we are going to get this thing done.”
In the nightcap, it was Tyler Madden, sneaking past the defense for a breakaway goal in overtime to send the Huskies to their second consecutive final, giving them a chance to defend their 2018 crown.
“You gotta give the juniors and seniors credit, on the bench they are the biggest part,” Madden said. “They are the leaders and I look up to them.”
“This one definitely was unbelievable. I have been coming to Garden for a while watching games and stuff,” Madden said. “Those are bright lights out there, and I shine in those.”
Of the six goals scored Monday, five of them were scored by freshmen playing in their first Beanpot game.
“You need freshmen to play and step up,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. “And (Madden) has done that, as have (Julian Kislin) and (Jordan Harris) for us this year … and like Cayden Primeau did for us last year.”
Here are other notes from Monday’s Beanpot semifinal action:
— Boston University goalie Jake Oettinger certainly deserved a better fate than he was handed against Northeastern. The junior made a whopping 47 saves in the Terriers’ loss. He was called on 24 times in the third period alone. The 6-foot-5 Dallas Star draft pick settled in wonderfully after allowing an early goal in the first period.
“Jake was great,” BU coach Albie O’Connell said. “After the first goal he was pretty damn perfect. He played a terrific game. That was probably one of the best games he has played in a BU uniform.”
— In the opener, Boston College netminder Joseph Woll also was impressive, finishing with 27 saves. He played a big role in shutting down Harvard’s potent power play, which boasts a 32.4 success rate. The Crimson were 0-for-4 on the man advantage Monday.
What was the Eagles’ plan on the penalty kill?
“Told Joe Woll to make a lot of saves,” BC coach Jerry York said. “Your goalie has to be your best penalty killer, especially against that power play. We tried to key in on ( Adam Fox), he as good an offensive defensive as we have seen in our league in a long, long time. He distributes the puck so well. A clear Hobey Baker candidates.”
— The four teams combined to go 0-for-15 on the power play between the two games.
— Northeastern has not won back-to-back Beanpot titles since 1984 and 1985. Madigan was a player of those Huskies teams.
— Boston College leads their Beanpot series 34-12 over NU, though the Huskies shut out the Eagles in last year’s semifinal, 3-0. Northeastern has won the last three Beanpot meeting between the schools.
Thumbnail photo via NESN