Forty minutes of unwavering defense followed by 20 minutes of pandemonium. This may be the best way to describe the 39th annual Beanpot Final.
Tuesday’s epic conclusion to the 2017 installment of the Beanpot ended with Boston College emerging as the victors in a closely contended 2-1 victory over Northeastern. Redshirt freshman Erin Connolly scored the game-winning goal and was named Beanpot MVP while Brittany Bugalski earned the Bertagna Goaltending Award as the best goaltender of the tournament.
Scoring opened with Kasidy Anderson’s first career Beanpot goal, just over a minute into the third period. Kristyn Capizzano netted the equalizer, putting Connolly in the position to end things for the Eagles.
This is the Eagles’ third Beanpot trophy in the last four seasons, and their fifth since head coach Katie Crowley took over in the 2006-07 season.
Defense wins championships
This cliché holds water after what was a low-scoring endeavor. Bugalski made 19 saves over 60 minutes, and junior goaltender Katie Burt made 22. Both of these shot totals may seem low, and that is likely due to the high shot-block totals.
In the second period alone, Northeastern blocked nine shots — junior Shelby Herrington making a few highlight-reel plays on the penalty kill — and over all three frames Boston College blocked a massive 21 shots.
Limiting shots on net proved to be the major difference in this game, as both teams did an excellent job on offense, generating breakaways and odd-man rushes as well as crashing the net to collect rebounds. Anderson’s goal was off of a breakaway where she outraced a backchecking Eagle, and Capizzano was able to score her goal by using her speed to evade most of the Northeastern defense. The majority of straight up shots were forced into defenders’ pads, and the rest had to be taken from the perimeter.
Crowley, as cool as can be
It should not come as a surprise that Crowley was calm and collected in her postgame press conference. After all, she has been doing one thing very well since she showed up on Chestnut Hill, and that is win big games. She knows how to keep her team under control and come out on top.
“They came out and scored first in that third period,” she said, pausing to chuckle. “For the last couple of games we’ve been pretty good at coming from behind.” She could be referring to their semifinal win against Boston University, when they scored two third-period goals to turn a 2-1 deficit to a 3-2 lead. Crowley might also be referencing their comeback tie against UConn, when they trailed by three goals twice and managed to answer both times.
Crowley used only four defensemen in this game — yes, in the game with 21 blocked shots — and frankly, none of them played like it. Led by junior Megan Keller, the defensive corps accomplished the task Crowley set out for them of carrying the team along the blue line for 60 minutes. Even strength, power play, penalty kill; Crowley managed to get a championship performance out of her players.
Winning this Beanpot is yet another in a long list of accomplishments the Eagles have earned since Crowley showed up on Chestnut Hill. Her track record has made her one of the top coaches in the entire NCAA and put Boston College in a tremendous position to continue to win more Beanpots and conference titles.
Barbito’s brutal truth
This was one of the best complete 60 minutes of hockey I personally have seen ever at Matthews Arena. It may be one of the best displays of hockey in the past few years. Boston College, in the end, was able to outmatch Northeastern in the final period, and that was enough for the Eagles to trump the Huskies.
Northeastern head coach David Flint was asked plenty about the upcoming matchup against Boston College on Friday in Chestnut Hill. “I told the team, don’t hang your heads on this game. Let’s build off of it, and you get another crack at them on Friday.” It seems like the message has already been received. Bugalski postgame said, “Talking in the locker room after the game, I think we’re pretty motivated and ready to come back at them on Friday.”
While Northeastern goes back to the drawing board to solve the mysterious riddle of the Boston College Eagles, Crowley and her crew will get to celebrate another Beanpot victory and another well-fought win over the rival Huskies.
Both of these teams are back in action on Friday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA.