The best line in college hockey propelled Boston College (20-4-3) to a school record fifth straight Beanpot final with a 3-1 victory over arch-rival Boston University (8-15-3) at TD Garden on Monday night.
The sensational trio of Kevin Hayes, Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau combined for two goals and three assists to set up a rematch of last year’s title game with Northeastern.
“The Gaudreau, Arnold, Hayes line is so dangerous, every time they go out there I hold my breath,” said Terriers head coach David Quinn in his post-game press conference.
After Ryan Fitzgerald put BC on the scoreboard with a power-play goal four minutes into the game, Arnold created a scoring chance for Hayes with a pretty cross-crease pass for the second Eagles tally of the opening period. After BU trimmed the BC lead to 2-1 late in the third period, Arnold set up Gaudreau for a game-clinching empty-net goal. It was a typical performance from a trio that has posted an astounding 76 points (29 goals, 47 assists) in the last 13 games.
Gaudreau entered Monday’s semifinal as the leading scorer in Division I with 51 points in 26 games, and the Calgary Flames prospect added another two points (empty-net goal, assist) to his total against BU. He extended his point streak to 22 games, which is the longest in the nation. The junior forward has scored 21 goals with 24 assists in that span, and the Eagles are 17-0-1 when he finds the back of the net.
The way Gaudreau uses his speed to explode into the attacking zone is remarkable. His quick hands allow him to dangle past defensemen in tight spaces and maintain control of the puck against bigger, stronger opponents. His playing style is quite similar to former Flames winger Theo Fleury, who scored 30-plus goals nine times despite his 5-foot-6 stature.
“It’s fun to watch Johnny G isn’t it?” said BC head coach Jerry York. “He shocks me with some of the things he does with the puck. He certainly was our catalyst tonight.”
Gaudreau gets most of the headlines with his dominant play, but linemates Hayes and Arnold have been just as consistent this season. Hayes has tallied 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in the last 14 games and ranks second in Division I scoring with 46 points. Arnold is in fifth place with 38 points.
Northeastern has to shut down the Gaudreau line or Boston College will win a fifth straight Beanpot crown on Feb. 10.
An Improved Northeastern Team Awaits BC in Beanpot Final
Northeastern (15-8-3) advanced to its second consecutive Beanpot final with a dominant 6-0 victory over Harvard in the first semifinal Monday night. Huskies head coach Jim Madigan has done a tremendous job building a deep, talented roster that’s playing with a ton of confidence right now.
“Jim has got some really special players — Josh Manson and Kevin Roy,” said York. “They’re getting excellent goaltending from Clay Witt. It’s no surprise they’ve won so many games this year. I think Jim feels this is by far the best team they’ve had since he’s been there.”
BC defeated Northeastern 6-3 in last year’s final, but the upcoming matchup should be a lot closer. This Huskies team is well-structured defensively and has more scoring depth than last season’s squad.
Eagles Goalie Thatcher Demko Plays Like a Veteran In First Beanpot Game
Boston College has produced a lot of talented goal scorers over the last decade, but one common denominator among its championship teams is quality goaltending. Thatcher Demko showed the poise of a veteran in his first career Beanpot game, and Monday’s scoreline would have looked a lot different if he didn’t thwart several odd-man rushes BU created. The freshman goaltender finished with 27 saves, eight of which were made in the final 20 minutes.
“A lot of our good defense tonight was the play of Thatcher,” said York. “He’s been a good goaltender for a lot of years. I don’t think it’s a surprise he could handle something like this and play well.”
Jerry York (left) and Thatcher Demko answer questions from media Monday night.
Demko has a 9-1-2 record, a .930 save percentage and a 1.89 GAA (fifth-best in the country) this season. His consistent play in net and ability to make clutch third-period saves instills a ton of confidence in his teammates and takes some of the pressure off of them in big games.
“Thatcher as I watch him, he’s getting more confidence,” said York. “He reminds me an awful lot of [New Jersey Devils goaltender and BC alum] Cory Schneider at the same age.”
If Demko plays like Schneider for the rest of the season, the Eagles likely will capture their sixth NCAA championship.
Photo via Twitter.com/JustinBerlPhotoFiled under: Beanpot, Boston College, Boston University, Hockey East, Nicholas Goss, Top Stories