BOSTON - If you were looking at numbers alone, it would be easy to say that Boston University didn't stand a chance against the nation's top team, Boston College.
Yet when Boston College and Boston University square off in the Beanpot in front of a sellout crowd at TD Garden, all bets are off.
The Terriers did all they could to pull off a stunning upset, pushing BC to the brink. But in the end, they couldn't stop Boston College's Tommy Cross from sending the Eagles to victory.
Cross scored the game-winning goal on a slapshot 3:17 into overtime, giving No. 1 Boston College a 3-2 victory over archrival and No. 14 Boston University in the opening round of the 59th annual Beanpot on Monday night.
"I thought it was an terrific college hockey game," said Boston College associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh, speaking in place of Eagles' head coach Jerry York, who had laryngitis. "You had everything in that game. You get an overtime game in the Beanpot, and we talked about it this week, you don't get second chances in the Beanpot."
Boston College will now face Northeastern, which won its first-round game against Harvard (4-0), in the Beanpot championship game next Monday.
The meeting between the Eagles and Huskies in the tournament's final round will mark the third time that the two schools will play each other for the Beanpot title. Northeastern won the first meeting in the title game, edging the Eagles 5-4 to win the Beanpot on February 11, 1980. BC would even the score, though, beating the Huskies, 8-2, in the Beanpot championship game on February 4, 1983.
Philip Samuelsson and Jimmy Hayes each scored in the win for Boston College (20-6-0). Senior goaltender John Muse was outstanding in net, turning away 34 shots in 63 minutes.
"It feels really good," said Cross about the Eagles' win. "It's a great win for our team."
Boston University (13-8-7) received goals from Wade Megan and Corey Trivino in the loss. Terriers' goalie Kieran Millan had 37 saves in 63 minutes for BU.
"It was an exciting hockey game," said longtime BU head coach Jack Parker. "I was really pleased with how our team played. We did a good job defending, a good job on the attack. The difference in the game was [that] we had two power plays at the end of the game and didn't convert."
The Eagles outshot the Terriers in the game, 40-36, including 5-2 in the extra period. BC had four penalties that totaled eight minutes while BU amassed two penalties that totaled four minutes.
"We've certainly gotten better against the as the season's progressed," said Parker, who's team has now lost all four meetings against BC this season. "My team has gotten better and they showed that tonight. This was a disappointing loss because we had opportunities there."
Following nearly 15 minutes of even play between the two teams, Boston College broke onto the scoreboard on sophomore Philip Samuelsson''s slapshot 14:37 into the opening period. Samuelsson's goal was his fourth of the season and was assisted by Bill Arnold and Patrick Wey.
Nearly one minute later, Boston University knotted the score at 1-1 on a goal from Wade Megan, his sixth of the season, with 4:45 left in the first period. Megan's goal was assisted by Garrett Noonan and Adam Clendening. Both teams held each other in check for the remaining minutes of the first period, resulting in a 1-1 tie after the first period.
The Terriers were able to get the early edge in the second period, potting the go-ahead goal 2:17 into the period. Corey Trivino scored the goal for BU, his sixth of the season. It was assisted by Ryan Ruikka and Ross Gaudet. Neither team was able to net another goal in the middle period, despite a close call for the Eagles in which the puck appeared to cross the line into the Terriers' net, but was ultimately waived off by the officials.
Regardless of the referees' decision, the Eagles were able to tie the game at two on Jimmy Hayes' slapshot 4:56 into the third period. Hayes' goal was his 13th of the season, and it was assisted by Pat Mullane and Samuelsson.
Neither team could break the tie in the final 15 minutes, but BU had several chances to score the go-ahead goal in the final minutes. Yet BC's defense held down the fort, leading to yet another overtime game between the two rivals.
"I think any successful hockey team needs to have successful special teams," said Cavanaugh. "I thought we did a good job in the last five minutes on those two penalty kills."
The tie wouldn't survive for much longer, though, as Cross potted the game-winner with 16:43 left in overtime, sending the Eagles to the championship game.
"I think BC and BU games have been one goal games for a long time now," Parker said. "In general, it will be that way for a long time to come."
Boston College will face Northeastern in the title game next Monday, February 14th, at 7:30 p.m. EST (NESN). Boston University will battle Harvard in the Beanpot consolation game, which is also next Monday at 4:30 p.m. EST.