Sunday, February 5, 2012

Beanpot Preview

Tomorrow kicks off the 60th annual Beanpot Tournament. BU takes on Harvard in the first game at 5:00. Boston College and Northeastern are scheduled for the night cap, beginning at 8:00.

BU and Harvard met in last year's Consolation, with Harvard winning 5-4 and handing BU their first fourth place finish since 1980. The Terriers and Crimson have already met this season, back in January. BU came away with a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime win after Garrett Noonan scored on a 3 on 2 rush in the extra session.

This season, Harvard has played some very tight games and come in with a 7-6-9 record. Notable wins include a 4-3 victory over Colgate in November, a 4-4 tie at North Dakota, and a 4-3 home win over Yale.

Senior Alex Killorn leads Harvard in total points with 29 (14 g, 15a) in 22 games played. A close second in the points race is defenseman Danny Biega, who comes in with 26, also in 22 games played. Biega has 7 goals and 19 assists on the year. In goal, Steve Michalek has a .900 save percentage, with a 6-5-8 recorded in 8 games played.

BU's starting lineup should look like this: Alex Chiasson will center Chris Connolly and Matt Nieto on the first line. Adam Clendening and Sean Escobedo are be the defense pairings with Kieran Millan between the pipes to start the game.

First Round Predictions
Game 1: BU 5, Harvard 2
Game 2: BC 3, Northeastern 2 (ot)


  1. Give me a confident Courtnall, a surging Nieto, & Chiasson for firepower; find me ways for Megan and Gill to continue adding to their point totals, and a game Clendening and Noonan anchoring down the back line, then as long as BU shows up with a GK who is ready and steady, and they will play with this new-found fire in their belly as even though only the Captain Jack Connolly and G Kieran Millan have ever logged meaningful Beanpot Minutes, I will take Gaudet in a Chris Drury late in his career Penalty-Killing role (think 2010 Winter Olympics) as the coaches KNOW he will not let this game escape. Gaudet plays hard every shift and the staffs’ newfound confidence in Gaudet MAXIMIZING his talents and efforts as are infectious on this team. Escobedo, Ruikka, & MacGregor will be holding the defense together with Scotch tape and glue, and a seemingly rejuvenated Hohmann and Rodrigues are ready to step up as freshman now, and should he so desire Cisse (after sitting Friday against Merrimack) has as much talent as any player taking the ice and might very well choose this semi-final to show the world his abilities.

    Ross Gaudet & Garrett Noonan will - along with Connolly who has adopted Boston he has been a part of the Terrier Fabric so much that he is the first player to where the C on his sweater for consecutive seasons since O.C. - teach the rest of these young men what it means to grow up in Boston dreaming of hoisting a Beanpot, and neither got there as high profile recruits. Each first playing MA Catholic high school hockey: Gaudet as a 2 time Globe & Herald All Scholastic at Austin Prep in 2006 & 2007, leading AP on a Super 8 semi-final run in 2007 earning Co-MVP Catholic Central honors in 07, assistant Captain in 06 & Captain in 2007, yet he still had to take his talents to the Bridgewater Bandits of the EJHL where he accumulated 28 points through 35 games in the 2007-08 season. A true walk on at BU, he was Red-shirted (not dressing a single game in the magical run of 08-09) his first year on Campus. After spending the first three contests of 2009-10 in street clothing, Gaudet earned the Varsity Sweater for the fourth match only to play EVERY game remaining in his RS Freshman season as it could not be wrestled away by others on the team with Gaudet being named Most Improved Player by the team for the 2009-10 campaign. Noonan took a similar path: Captaining Catholic Memorial in its successful 2009 Super 8 Championship, being named Globe All-Scholastic and Co-MVP of the Catholic Conference for the Knights 2009 Reclamation of a title that for years had been considered their birthright but had not been won by CM since 2005. Prior to Noonan leading the long time Pinnacle of Massachusetts High School Hockey back to the promised land it had dominated since the inception of the Super Eight in its 21 year existence (CM won 5 of first 5, 9 of first 11, 13 of the 21 - most recent win with Noonan in 2009 - since Tourney's inception). In 2009-10, Noonan then had to go to the BCHL's Vernon Vipers where as a stand-up Defenseman- he still tallied 18 points through 58 games, also amassing the second highest total of Penalty Minutes on team, thus proving himself both skilled and tough yet durable, missing only 2 games during that 60 match campaign.(END OF PART 1)

  2. (START OF PART 2) Gaudet had played 84 straight games from the start of his streak as a RS Freshman until A DNP-CD in the game prior to Cornell where BU won easily hosting UNH 4 to 1. Coach had felt that Gaudet had not put in his usual “skate every shift like it might be your last” week in practice and thus he sat him down for that home victory prior to the Red Hot at Madison Square Garden. Ironically, Coach teetered on whether to keep Gaudet sitting and was a late add to the roster for the Red Hot Classic for despite his play in practice having improved after Coach showed him he needed more than talent to where the sweater, Coach went with his gut knowing the Red Hot would mean MORE to Gaudet (who was pointless on the season through ten games) than to others as he grew up Dreaming of BU, but even Coach would have to admit that beautiful tip (arguably as pretty a goal as BU has scored this season) in Overtime at Madison Square Garden put Gaudet back into the lineup for good, and far more importantly, delivered a HUGE non-conference win with the game winner against a team that has helped vault BU to the top of the Pair Wise and so long as Cornell stays in first or second in ECAC, BU will - barring collapse - make the NCAA for the first time since our National Title. (END OF PART 2)

  3. (START OF PART 3) Watching a guy like Gaudet elevate from role player and "energy guy" to a player Coach relies on more so than any forward on the Penalty Kill, guys like Courtnall and Megan elevate from role players to scorers, and watching solid players like Noonan and Gill emerge as blossoming stars with Nieto, Clendening, and Chiasson joining Captain Connolly and Goalie Millan show just how deep with 5 legitimate defenseman and 3 very good to great star-powered lines yet players who are the essence of team because the WHOLE is far better than the aggregate sum of its parts, and that is what a team needs to be special. For whatever reason, this team took nights off when Coyle & Trivino were centering the first two lines.

    Now that the Terriers no longer have either of those two players on their roster, they are not the all-star team the roster looked like prior to the season, but to quote Herb Brooks while putting together Team USA for the 1980 Olympics. "All Star teams are not put together to win games." If Brooks had put together an All Star team, his Captain Mike Eruzione NEVER would have made the team. Instead, he scores the game winner against the USSR. I am not naive enough to say that BU has more talent without Trivino & Coyle as they did when each was still with the team. But I would venture Coach had a feeling his players were not maximizing their talents while they had Trivino & Coyle, while they are coming much closer to doing just that on this depleted through various types of attrition roster. The team has been lucky in that it has only had a couple major injuries (both of which they are currently weathering), yet whether it be Ruikka or Santana someone seems to step up and show their measurable improvement when guys like NiCastro & Privitera go down.

    This team is firing on all cylinders and that is why I honestly - and this is not my heart speaking - believe BU plays a game Harvard opponent to a one goal win in the Semi & I also think they best the winner of the other semi-final in another one goal thriller.

    Tangentially, Northeastern DOES have a puncher’s chance to emerge from the nightcap and give the Huskies a REAL SHOT tonight, but unless Rawlings plays the game of his life it will likely be BC. Although the Eagles Achilles’ Heel is STILL the lack of a #1 goaltender, BC is the toughest to judge as after finally acquiring momentum taking all four points from UNH, schedulers did BC no favors NOT playing a single game in eight days, but so long as they get at least adequate goaltending - be it Milner, Venti, or Billett – BC should emerge from its semi in a high scoring game. While Milner has the hot hand with 2 one goal games in a home and home against UNH, it would not be a complete surprise if Venti, the only MASS native, were named Eagles starter as he is a Senior and he played quite well trying to reverse momentum in beating this same Northeastern club three weeks ago at Frozen Fenway. Venti understands the Gravitas of the Beanpot in a way Milner and Billett might not.

    So expect BU in a close, hard-hitting match to squeak through with clutch scoring tonight.

    Expect another BU-BC classic Beanpot final with BU raising its 30th banner a week from tonight (which would equal the total of BC, Harvard, and Northeastern COMBINED).

    Although not nearly as talented as the 2008-09 Terriers, there is a je ne sais quoi about this team that would behoove experts not to pick against them.

    Prediction: Eberly – Kieran Millan; MVP – Ross Gaudet

  4. We made a Beanpot video that pokes lighthearted fun at all the college kids in the area who only care about Hockey for two weekends a year (you know the type). Since you have a blog focusing on one of the teams in the beanpot, we thought you may get a kick out of the video. Enjoy: