Twelve months ago, the Northeastern men succeeded in winning the Beanpot for the first time in 30 years. The next item on the 13-ranked Huskies’ bucket list is to become the first team at Northeastern to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 1984-85, when gas cost $1.09 per gallon, the first dot-com was registered, and coach Jim Madigan was playing for the Huskies.
Northeastern (16-9-1) is favored to beat Boston College (10-12-3) in the Beanpot final Monday night at 7:30 at TD Garden.
Why are the Huskies expected to prevail? For starters, they tend to win the close ones. They have a 9-3-0 record in one-goal games, their best showing since 2008-09.
Sounds exciting. It has been. Northeastern has made a habit of saving its best for last, with 39 goals in the third period or overtime—more than they’ve generated throughout the opening two periods this season.
Will playing at a neutral site create a challenge for the Huskies? If you go by fan support, the Huskies have the best home-ice advantage in the city of Boston, and yet, they have played better this season away from home (10-4-0) than at Matthews Arena (6-5-1). On the road, they’ve outscored opponents 41-27 and killed penalties at a laudable rate of 87.8 percent. All of this is trending in a positive way as they look forward to Monday night at TD Garden.
What about their recent losses? Those haven’t been promising. That’s a fair enough point. Apart from their rousing 2-1 win over Boston University last week in the Beanpot semifinal, the Huskies have lost four straight Hockey East games (to Connecticut, UMass-Lowell, and twice to Providence College) by a combined 13-4.
Which team will show up? Will it be the Huskies who knocked off then-No. 1 UMass 2-1 at Matthews on Jan. 19? Or the Huskies who were blown out 6-1 against the same opponent one night earlier in Amherst?
It’s not as though BC has been tearing through opponents either. This has been a difficult year for the Eagles, as affirmed by their losing record. Only three seniors played for BC in its 2-1 semifinal win over Harvard. But goalie Joe Woll is excellent, forwards David Cotton and Oliver Wahlstrom are dangerous, and never forget that this is a tournament famous for its upsets.
How about Tyler Madden? He is turning into a fascinating player. He’s a freshman forward from Deerfield Beach, Florida, the son of three-time Stanley Cup champion John Madden, and he has boundless confidence. “They were bright lights out there,” Madden said after scoring the winning goal in the first minute of overtime in the semifinal round of the Beanpot. “And I shine in those.”
Madden scored goals in his first three games at Northeastern. He scored another three goals while on leave at the World Junior Championships last month. He scored the overtime winner against UMass. He has totaled only nine goals for the Huskies, and yet virtually all of them have been notable.
Who will be the key player for Northeastern? Goaltender Cayden Primeau (26 saves) was spectacular against BU while snuffing out two breakaways by Joel Farabee, a first-round pick of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. But the star of the game was Hobey Baker nominee Jeremy Davies, based on his defense, his attacking transitions, and his three-line pass that sprung open Madden for the winning goal.