BOSTON — At media day, a week prior to the start of the 2020 Beanpot, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan admitted the Huskies might have a target on their back in the 68th edition of the tournament.
After all, the Huskies entered this year’s tourney as reigning back-to-back champs, and were the second-highest ranked team in the tournament nationally after Boston College.
But suffice to say whatever arrows were launched at Northeastern, it averted them. Even if it was ever so narrowly.
It was just the eighth three-peat in Beanpot history, and most recent since Boston College’s five-year run concluded in 2014.
But such success doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a product of year in, year out commitment that the Huskies confidently can say they boast.
“The winning culture here that we built, the guys before us built, it’s amazing,” said senior captain Ryan Shea after the win. “This is why I came to Northeastern. I wanted to win a Beanpot. I wanted to win Hockey East and I thought Northeastern was the best spot for me. And right now it’s looking pretty good.”
Indeed it is.
Here are some other notes from the final day of Beanpot action:
— Who knows what would have happened had the referees elected to swallow the whistle on a controversial penalty call in overtime. It was a Patrick Harper trip on Shea that sent Northeastern on the man advantage that would yield Harris’ winner.
— Boston Hockey Blog (@BOShockeyblog) February 11, 2020
BU head coach Albie O’Connell spoke briefly after the game, and he wasn’t pleased.
“I thought we played a terrific game, pretty much from start to finish. That’s all I have,” was the entirety of O’Connell’s opening statement.
He then was asked about the penalty call in overtime.
“What’d you think? What did you think about it?” O’Connell said back to the reporter who posed the question.
After the reporter admitted he thought it was questionable, the second-year coach responded.
“I’m not supposed to comment on officials,” O’Connell started. “The one thing I will say is the diving in that game that was called — Unreal. Unreal. Karma didn’t catch up to that one, it will. It’s just a tough thing to watch.”
Following that there were no further questions and O’Connell’s press conference ended.
Of course, it was a controversial penalty in the 2015 Beanpot that led to then-Terrier Matt Grzelcyk’s OT winner over Northeastern.
So Madigan knows what O’Connell, who was associate head coach on David Quinn’s 2015 BU squad, is feeling.
“From a BU perspective,” Madigan said in his opening statement, “I’m sure they didn’t like the call — I’ve been there, we’ve lost to BU in overtime on a PK situation, a power play. So I get that, (but I) thought the officials did a good job.”
— While the result certainly is nauseating to BU, they did earn ties in the eyes of the NCAA in both the semifinal and final due to this year’s rule change.
They mounted furious comebacks in both rounds, erasing two-goal, third-period deficits in each game.
The only team unranked in this year’s tournament, Boston University desperately needed results. While wins obviously would have been preferred, not getting saddled with losses in the NCAA standings is at least something of a positive.
— Trevor Zegras’ goal for BU with 1.2 seconds to play was what forced overtime.
What were the Northeastern coaches saying after that happened?
“The coaches were saying WTF,” Madigan quipped.
— The Eagles claimed the consolation game, rolling through Harvard 7-2 earlier Monday.
BC, of course, squandered a two-goal lead in the semifinal to BU. But it was a nice rebound effort from Jerry York’s squad, who now have not won the Beanpot since 2016.