It had all the makings of a sequel that would never end. Then a snap of Jeremy Davies’ wrists pushed the puck across the lines to Northeastern freshman Tyler Madden, who appeared not at all worried, even though the semifinal of his first Beanpot hinged on the decision he would make 51 seconds into overtime.
His breakaway trickled past the left pad of Boston University goaltender Jake Oettinger, and then Madden vanished beneath the happy shadows of his black-uniformed teammates.
“They were bright lights out there,” Madden said after the win. “And I shine in those.”
Twelve months after their first Beanpot championship in 30 years, the Huskies beat BU 2-1 Monday at TD Garden to advance to the final. There they will have the opportunity to earn Northeastern’s first back-to-back championships since 1984-85, when coach Jim Madigan was playing for the Huskies.
The Huskies (16-8-1) will be meeting Boston College (10-12-3), a 2-1 winner over Harvard in the opening semifinal.
Adding to the suspense of living up to last year’s triumph was the discouraging fact that Northeastern had lost three straight games, by an aggregate 10-2, entering this defining semifinal.
“Not getting the results we want the last few games, this was a really big, emotional point for our team,” Madigan said. “We talked the other day, here’s an opportunity for this team to put itself in the category of one of the best Northeastern teams. We talked about compartmentalizing: Let’s take care of part one.”
The reunion with the Terriers (10-12-3), who lost to the Huskies 5-2 in the final last year, turned into a goalie showdown between Northeastern’s Cayden Primeau and Oettinger, whose 47 saves made up for his team’s deficiencies. BU was outshot 35-16 over the final two scoreless periods of regulation.
“We were dominating them,” Primeau said. “We knew we weren’t leaving this building without a win.”
The Huskies should have expected a more prolific result based on their opening goal 3:14 into the semifinal, when they took advantage of a BU line change (much as Davies’s winning assist would exploit another line change hours later). The Terrier forwards didn’t circulate back defensively as Northeastern’s Patrick Schule separated possession from Cam Crotty then slammed home the ensuing cross from Liam Pecararo to open the scoring.
Schule joined junior wing Matt Filipe as the only Huskies with goal-scoring experience at this event (Filipe’s two goals having come in the 2016 consolation game). As happily as they recalled their memories of last year, these Huskies recognized that they were telling a story all their own.
BU freshman Joel Farabee responded to the early goal while demonstrating why the Philadelphia Flyers drafted him in the first round. He cleaned up a rebound off the back wall, cleverly ricocheting it off the back of Primeau’s left skate 21 seconds before the first intermission.
But Primeau would go on to snuff out a pair of Farabee breakaways over a span of three minutes in the second period. The two had practiced together throughout the World Junior Championships last month, which raised the question: Had Farabee shown his teammate all of his moves?
In the third period, the Huskies conjured up the same extended burst of energy that had carried them through this tournament last year. They assaulted Oettinger incessantly while outshooting the Terriers 24-8 in the final set, but BU’s goalie, who has been unpredictable for much of this season, was impenetrable now. Both teams squandered power plays in the final six minutes of regulation, and into overtime they went.
One year ago, the Huskies broke their Beanpot curse with a triumph that will never be forgotten by all who experienced it. On Monday night, they made last year seem entirely normal.
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