The Boston University men’s hockey team (16-10-3, 11-6-3 Hockey East) will compete in their biggest game of the season thus far, fighting for the Beanpot title on Monday night at TD Garden. Facing the Northeastern University Huskies (19-8-1, 10-6-1 HE), the Terriers have an opportunity to collect their first trophy since 2018.
The Huskies have won the past three Beanpot tournaments, most recently in 2020––a double overtime victory against BU that I’m sure none of us need reminding of. But the Terriers have a spark to them right now and it’s been special watching the type of hockey they’ve played in the last month.
“A lot of guys have confidence, they have confidence in each other and we’ve got a winning feeling,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in Thursday’s postgame press conference. “Guys want to win, guys want to compete and play––it’s exciting to see as a coaching staff.”
Dominating Providence College in the big 4-1 Hockey East win, BU has reestablished themselves as true competitors and put their talents to the forefront against tough opponents.
The leadership on that roster has been outstanding in the second half of the season. Guys like senior captain and forward Logan Cockerill, junior forward Matt Brown, junior forward Ethan Phillips, among other upperclassmen, have served as a strong example on and off the ice of what it means to play BU hockey.
The Terriers have scored four or more goals in their last six games with a power play that’s been red-hot and a group of guys that are finally just having fun in the offensive zone. They’ve also been backed by sophomore goaltender Vinny Duplessis.
Duplessis garnered 24 stops against the Friars and has been calm, confident and poised between the pipes in Commesso’s absence. He’ll no doubt get the nod on Monday, tasked to put up arguably the most important performance of his collegiate career.
On the other side of Boston, Northeastern also avoided the “trap game” scenario this week with a 4-2 win over UMass Lowell on Friday. Led by junior forward Aidan McDonough who has 25 points (17g, 8a) thus far, the Huskies have been a Hockey East threat all year.
Their second half of the season hasn’t been as explosive as the Terries, though. Northeastern is just now getting back to their top tier play after getting swept by UMass Amherst and losing to Arizona State and UMass Lowell a couple weeks ago.
Freshman netminder TJ Semptimphelter has stepped up for the Huskies as they also lost their starting goaltender, Devon Levi, to the Olympics. It seems Semptimphelter has gotten more comfortable in the crease after allowing eight goals in his first two starts since Levi’s departure.
Semptimphelter made 25 saves in his squad’s most recent victory and has earned a .938 save percentage and 2.09 goals against average.
Talking about stats in a Beanpot preview almost feels useless because as all the players and fans know, this tournament is a whole other animal. It brings an entirely different compete level and desire to win from both sides––numbers aside, it will simply come down to who wants it more.
O’Connell said his guys are ready for Monday night.
“We’re not gonna have to get them up for that game, we’ll probably have to calm them down,” he said.
The puck will drop at 7:30pm at TD Garden on Monday. With student sections roaring and a battle on the ice, it will be a display of the best things college hockey has to offer. We’ll have full coverage of the game so make sure to follow us on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.