Northeastern knocks BC from Beanpot throne

BOSTON -- The king is dead.

For the first time in six years, the No. 11 Boston College Eagles (16-9-2) won't be hoisting the Beanpot trophy. Not after the Northeastern Huskies (11-11-4) bounced the five-time defending champs, 3-2, in a nail-biting semifinal Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The Huskies' victory, somewhat ironically, ensures that their opponent next Monday in the Beanpot final -- Boston University -- will keep its record of six straight Beanpot crowns (1995-2000) for the foreseeable future.

BU earned a shot at its 30th Beanpot title by outlasting Harvard, 4-3, in double overtime.

"We knew tonight was going to be a close game. We knew we had to get over the hump," Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. "We had believability. We had confidence against Boston College. But when you find ways to lose games against them, or get tied late in the game, it does something to your confidence.

"And those last seven or eight games, that's happened, whether it's been in the [Beanpot] finals the last two years or the regular season," he said. "A lot of the preparation this week was the mental part, the believability and the confidence that we're just as good and we can beat this club."

It also allowed the Huntington Hounds to climb back to .500 after starting the season 0-8-1.

"I don't think I've ever been on a team as a player or a coach where you don't get a win out of the blocks the first nine games," Madigan said. "It's a true testament to the character of the young men we have in the locker room."

The Beanpot nightcap appeared to be following the same script as the traffic outside TD Garden and the first semifinal earlier in the evening: Absolute gridlock. But with the score knotted at 2-2 with 1:34 left in regulation, Northeastern junior defenseman Dustin Darou, with one career goal, took a pass from Kevin Roy at the left point.

"Kevin sent it up to me, and I kind of dragged it across," he said. "I was actually hoping for him to come up the wall because I'm not much of a shooter. But he never came, and I kind of saw an opening and just threw it on net, and it really worked out."

Darou's seeing-eye snap shot sailed past several BC and Northeastern players, then past Eagles goaltender Thatcher Demko for the game-winning tally.

"It's one thing to win against BC," Darou said. "But to score the game-winning goal was really surreal for me."

After a spirited-but-scoreless first period, the teams began to open it up in the middle frame. Northeastern took a 1-0 lead at 21 seconds on power-play goal that was part magic, part mistake.

With BC's Alex Tuch in the box for interference, NU's Roy received a cross-ice pass near the right faceoff dot and held it, freezing BC netminder Thatcher Demko. He then slid a pass to Mike McMurtry in the slot, but the junior from Ontario scuffed his shot. Instead, the puck slid through to Colton Saucermann, and the junior defenseman snapped it into the open net.

"I thought we kept our feet moving well, and that forced BC to pull us down," Madigan said. "The one thing we did really well was play smart. We kept our feet moving, in terms of back pressuring and not taking penalties, not reaching in and hooking and slashing. They've got an excellent power play and great personnel, so I like the way we handled that situation."

Four minutes later, BC's Austin Cangelosi launched Ryan Fitzgerald in alone on Clay Witt with a terrific bank pass off the right boards, but the NU goalie denied Fitzgerald's bid with a sparkling spread-eagle pad save. BC's Destry Straight, however, followed the play and jammed home the rebound to tie the game, 1-1.

The Huskies went up 2-1 on another power-play tally, this time with BC's Steve Santini serving two for holding. NU's Mike Szmatula send a pass to John Stevens at the top of the left circle, and the sophomore waited for Zach Aston-Reese to set up a screen at the top of the crease before wristing a laser past Demko's blocker at 11:21.

"Obviously we took a lot of penalties," said BC coach Jerry York. "It's hard to overcome that because you're playing the same players over and over again."

The Eagles continued to take ill-advised penalties, but the next one worked in their favor. With Teddy Doherty serving a bench minor for too many men on the ice, BC's Chris Calnan broke in on Witt, but was denied by a pinpoint poke check. Undeterred, Fitzgerald got another breakaway chance, and this time he made good on it, flipping a backhander over Witt's glove at 18:29, moments before Doherty stepped out of the box.

With just under 12 minutes left in the third, McMurtry was left alone in front, but Demko waited out the Husky forward and made the stop. Finally, though, Darou broke through.

"We knew coming into the game that we had to get to three," Madigan said. "We haven't been able to get to three goals against Demko much over the last few years. We knew when the opposition gets to three, you have a good chance of winning. It took three, and obviously we got the win."

Tuesday night's win puts Northeastern into the tournament final for the third straight year. However, the Huskies don't need to be reminded that they haven't won the cherished pot since 1988. Waiting for them will be the BU Terriers, with 29 Beanpot titles. Not a single player on either team has won the trophy previously.

"They've got depth up front. They've got four real good lines, their defensemen are younger but they're highly skilled, and they've got a great goaltender," Madigan said. "So we'll have our hands full next Monday. And that's what you've got to do in this tournament. You've got to beat a good team to go play just as good of a team."