For one team, a win tonight will be yet another notch on their belt. For the other, a win tonight will redeem a struggle-filled season.
When No. 1 Boston College (21-6-0) and Northeastern University (10-11-6) face off in the Beanpot championship game Monday evening, both teams will be looking to make a statement with just a few weeks left in their regular seasons.
The Eagles will be looking for their second straight Beanpot championship, a title their coaching staff is making sure they don’t take for granted. "We talked about it this week that you don’t get second chances in the Beanpot," explained assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh after his team’s win against Boston University last Monday night. "You can win a regular season title by losing a game. You can even win a Hockey East Championship by losing a game, but you cannot win a Beanpot by losing a game. You don’t get a second chance."
For the Huskies, a win against Boston College would give them their first Beanpot title in most of their student-athetes’ lifetimes. The last time Northeastern held Beanpot bragging rights was 1988.
"I think we have a little bit of the mentality of when are they going to win this damn thing. And (the fans) get sick of it and I don’t blame them," said Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin. "But, this is twice in the last three years that we are in the final, and I know ... we are going to have a tremendous opponent to play against."
In order for Northeastern to pull the long-awaited upset over BC, they will need yet another big game from sophomore goaltender Chris Rawlings. Rawlings, who has five shutouts this season, including four in the last eight games, is just barely behind BC’s senior goaltender John Muse (.937) in save percentage with .935, good for third in the nation. With his continued success between the pipes, Rawlings’ is finding his team beginning to play up to his level after an early season full of struggles.
Last Monday night, Northeastern junior forward Mike McLaughlin had a two-goal night in the opening game against Harvard, finally turning what Cronin describes as "great hockey IQ" into goal scoring. McLaughlin has already set a career high this year in points, with 10 goals and three assists, and only keeps getting better.
Muse will try to lead his Eagles towards a third Beanpot title in his career. His calmness in net has only grown with each passing year, and he saved his team against a stronger-than-expected Boston University squad last Monday night after his skaters fell back. BC can also expect help from Dorchester-bred junior Jimmy Hayes, who had a goal and an assist last Monday, and is second on a high-flying Eagles offense in goals with 13 this season.
Northeastern fans are up for Monday night’s game, and see it as a chance to redeem what has been a disappointing season. Said Northeastern sports fan blog Die Hard Dogs:
BC is playing for a Beanpot. Northeastern is playing for immortality."
In the evening’s opening matchup, No. 14 Boston University (14-8-7) will face a struggling but hopeful Harvard (4-18-1) team that is looking to cause the Terriers first Beanpot consolation loss in 31 years.
BU will look to ride steady junior goaltender Kieran Millan through and hope that sophomore forward Alex Chiasson is able to continue his scoring despite a foot injury.
BU head coach Jack Parker will also be looking for junior defenseman and Marshfield, Mass., native David Warsofsky to turn around his play from last Monday night. Parker benched his assistant captain during Friday night’s game against UMass-Amherst because he wanted Warsofsky "to play a bit harder."