Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scored his second OT goal of the tourney to give the Huskies a thrilling 4-3 win over Boston University at TD Garden. “This will stay with me for the rest of my life,” said Fontaine, the Beanpot MVP.
Kansas City defeated San Francisco to defend its Super Bowl title on Sunday. It was the Chiefs’ third championship in five years.
Are they a dynasty? That’s open to debate.
What’s not debatable is Northeastern University’s Beanpot dynasty.
It’s alive and well!
Five titles in six years.
And Husky fans have Gunnarwolfe Fontaine to thank for that.
And Cameron Whitehead. And Justin Hryckowian. And Jack Williams. And Matt DeMelis.
And the list goes on…
Fontaine scored his second overtime goal of the tournament — this one with 28 seconds left — to give the Huskies an improbable 4-3 victory over Boston University before a sold-out and raucous crowd Monday night at TD Garden.
Hryckowian assisted on the winner by Fontaine, whose OT goal 38 seconds into OT beat Harvard in the semifinals. Hryckowian, the Huskies’ captain, also set up that goal.
“I’m glad that we just won as a team out there and glad to be a two-time Beanpot champion,” said Fontaine, the 10th Husky to earn MVP honors in the tournament’s 71-year history. “This will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Fontaine added two assists in the championship game, which clinched back-to-back Beanpot sweeps for the Northeastern men’s and women’s hockey teams. The women defeated Boston University, 2-1, at TD Garden last month.
If Monday’s OT goal looked familiar, it should. The execution — a textbook give-and-go — and result were nearly identical to the clincher vs. Harvard.
Fontaine dropped the puck to Hryckowian, who muscled past his defender before backhanding a return pass back to a wide-open Fontaine waiting at the left post.
Like the Crimson goalie a week ago, Boston University’s Mathieu Caron didn’t have a chance.
The Huskies’ bench emptied, fans cheered and wept, the pep band played “Stacy’s Mom,” and Northeastern School of Law graduate and Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey handed over the Beanpot trophy.
On paper, Fontaine was the hero of this tournament, but he was quick to credit his teammates, especially Hryckowian.
“It’s easy when everyone is playing great around you, playing the right way,” Fontaine said. “Obviously there were those two great plays out of Justin in two back-to-back overtimes so I owe a lot to him.”
Northeastern coach Jerry Keefe said Fontaine has a knack for scoring big goals in the biggest games.
And there’s no bigger stage in college hockey than the annual audience of 17,500 in Boston on the second Monday in February.
“I feel like he seems to really get going the last couple of years at this time of year,” Keefe said of Fontaine. “He’s been playing his best hockey. And, you know, the coaches see it every day.”
The Huskies (13-12-1) won their ninth Beanpot overall.
And they did it against one of the nation’s best teams.
Boston University entered the game with an 18-7-1 record and ranked third in the country.
Northeastern, meanwhile, was ranked 20th.
But that didn’t matter to Keefe’s upset-minded team. They’re a resilient bunch.
“We were confident in our ability to play any team, any game. And we know if we play our style we can win any game,” Fontaine said.
Good goaltending certainly helps too.
Northeastern was outshot, 36-17, but Whitehead played like a seasoned veteran, not a freshman. A worthy replacement for Devon Levi, now with the Buffalo Sabres, Whitehead stopped 54 of 59 shots in the two wins.
Like Levi a year ago, Whitehead won the Eberly Award as the tournament’s best goalie.
“He just keeps getting better every single week,” Keefe said. “His preparation is outstanding.”
Keefe said Whitehead was dialed in from the start. And he needed to be. BU held a 23-8 advantage in shots through two periods.
“He’s got a lot of confidence in himself and obviously our group has a lot of confidence in him,” Keefe said. “But to do it on the big stage as a freshman, that’s huge.”
BU entered Monday’s final in search of its 31st Beanpot title.
The Terriers are still searching.
The victory is Northeastern’s sixth in a row dating back to mid-January and second straight over BU. The Huskies also defeated the Terriers in overtime, 4-3, on Jan. 30 at Matthews Arena.
Keefe never considers the Huskies underdogs, especially in the Beanpot.
“We expect to win,” he said. “I think our program is in a spot now that when we go out and we feel like we play our game, we should win.”
After all, this is not the same Northeastern team that lost seven straight games before Thanksgiving. Injuries had a lot to do with that. Still, the Huskies heard the whispers from the naysayers.
“We kept receipts at the beginning of the year. We heard all of the noise and stuck together through it,” Hryckowian said. “We’re a resilient group now and we’re kinda gelling at the right time.”
Northeastern has seven games left in the regular season before the Hockey East Tournament, beginning with a home-and-home series vs. UMass-Lowell this weekend.
Momentum is everything in hockey, Keefe said.
“This is kind of a stepping-stone victory,” he said. “This is something we can build on.”
Williams’ power-play goal, his 15th of the season, pulled the Huskies even, 3-3, with 10:09 left in the game. Williams one-timed a pass from Vinny Borgesi past Caron. Fontaine earned the second assist.
Hryckowian and DeMelis also scored for Northeastern, while Lane Hutson, Devin Kaplan and Macklin Celebrini had the BU goals.
Hutson’s goal made it 3-2 Terriers with 7.2 seconds left in the second period.
After Kaplan’s fifth goal of the season put BU ahead, 2-1, at 9:11, Hryckowian answered just 29 seconds later for Northeastern.
Hryckowian’s eighth goal of the season was assisted by Alex Campbell, but this one was all Hryckowian.
Streaking down the right side of the ice, the junior captain took a shot that went wide of Caron. But the puck bounced off the end boards and directly back to Hryckowian, who backhanded the rebound into the net.
DeMelis scored his second goal of the season at 5:52 of the second. It was assisted by Fontaine and Cam Lund, who helped finish a 3-on-2 break.
Celebrini’s 23rd goal of the season at 14:41 of the first period gave BU a 1-0 lead.