BOSTON — Northeastern goalie Devon Levi knew what had happened. He was right in the middle of the action for 60-plus minutes in the 70th annual Beanpot final against Harvard on Monday night.
But it was still tough for Levi to believe the outcome.
The Huskies and the Crimson waged an instant Beanpot classic on the ice at TD Garden, filled with so many pulse-pounding moments, and it came to an end with the Huskies lifting the trophy for the fourth time in the last five tournaments after it prevailed, 3-2, in a shootout.
“It doesn’t feel real,” said Levi, who came up clutch with 32 saves. “I still don’t know what’s going on. It feels like a dream.”
Northeastern captain Aidan McDonough was in the same boat as Levi, having a difficult time processing it all as Northeastern overcame a 2-1 deficit in the third period thanks to Gunnarwolfe Fontaine’s second goal. It was a storybook finish for McDonough, who grew up down the road from where the Beanpot is played in Milton, Mass., as he scored the only goal of the shootout.
“I don’t think it’s going to hit me for a little bit how amazing it is,” McDonough said. “My freshman year I was lucky enough to be a part of a great team that was able to win it. But for the last four years to go to battle everyday with my best friends, and to have the best coaching staff and the best support staff in the country in my opinion, it means everything.”
An NCAA rule change in 2020 made it so that this Beanpot final ended in a different fashion than the 69 before it. After a 3-on-3 five-minute overtime period, the two sides went to a shootout.
Harvard coach Ted Donato said it was disappointing to have a game of that magnitude conclude the way it did. But it was difficult for Donato to deny that it was worthy of the instant classic label, even after the Crimson came incredibly close to winning it in the third period when it hit the post twice in the final 5:20 of regulation.”
“I think maybe when the burn wears off. I mean it was a heckuva game,” Donato said. “It’s one of those ones that you really don’t want the game to end. You want it to end with somebody making a play. I thought both teams carried play off and on. I thought there was a lot of really good hockey players on the ice.”
Northeastern coach Jerry Keefe will undoubtedly be left with a different memory from the thrilling contest. For Keefe, it was a magical moment to see the Huskies pile onto the ice in euphoric celebration after Levi made the final stop of the shootout.
“We knew it was going to be a battle tonight. It was going to be a tough one,” Keefe said. “… I’m just really proud of these guys. Seeing them jump off the bench when (Levi) made that save, seeing them salute the fans … just means a lot to the players, to our school and to all of our families.”
Here are more notes from the Beanpot championship and consolation games:
— The accolades came flowing Levi’s way after another standout performance. The junior netminder was named the Beanpot MVP and the Eberly Award winner, given to the goalie with the best save percentage. Levi stopped 65-of-68 shots in the tournament for a .956 save percentage, which was good for seventh-best all-time.
Levi admitted there was a lot on his mind as he played in his first Beanpot, but he most importantly wanted to get back at Harvard after allowing an uncharacteristic eight goals earlier this season to the Crimson.
“Looking ahead before the first Beanpot game, I wanted Harvard to beat BC,” Levi said. “I wanted to see them in the Finals again. They put on a clinic against me and I wanted revenge. And the boys helped me get it tonight.”
— Matthew Coronato starred for Harvard as he netted two goals to finish the tournament with four. Crimson goalie Mitchell Gibson also had a stellar showing by making 27 saves. He stood on his head in overtime, coming through with five stops, including stonewalling a breakaway bid.
— McDonough didn’t pull off a fancy move on his shootout winner and explained his approach in that pressure-packed situation.
“That was designed,” McDonough said. “I kind of usually have one or two things that I try to do in the shootout. The magnitude of the game and the nerves, I try to just keep it simple.”
— Even though there was no title at stake for Boston College and Boston University in the consolation matchup, it was still a spirited tilt with their longtime rivalry playing out.
“A consolation game doesn’t always carry as much weight as obviously a championship game,” BC coach Greg Brown said. “But for us, playing BU, it always matter. … I think if these two teams could play anywhere at any time, there’s going to be a rivalry there. It’s going to be competitive. It’s going to be on the edge for both sides.”
— BC’s 4-2 win over the Terriers might not have come with a trophy, but it was still much-needed. It was the first time the Eagles had come out on top since Jan. 14.
— It was the first time all season BU lost back-to-back games, and they both happened to come at the Beanpot. BU head coach Jay Pandolfo felt the Terriers looked for an “easy game” due to their lack of doing the gritty things necessary to come out on top.
“For whatever reason that’s two games in a row that we just didn’t have our game,” Pandolfo said. “A lot of guys felt like they weren’t there like they typically are. … We’re going to need to reset here and find our game again moving forward.”