Beanpot Final Preview: It Could Be Another Game of Goalie

The 64th installment of the Beanpot concludes Monday night, and the vaunted silver chalice is guaranteed to be relegated to Commonwealth Avenue for a 23rd consecutive year. The only decision left to be settled is which end of Comm. Ave will it rest for the next 52 weeks.

Boston College and Boston University, who combine for 84 top-two finishes in the four-team tournament (Harvard and Northeastern – the other two participants – combine for just 42), take the Garden ice on Monday night. BU will look to win its 31st Beanpot and repeat for the first time since winning three straight from 2005-07. BC will look to take the title for the sixth time in seven years.

Both teams enter the game having played good hockey of late, with the Eagles 6-0-3 since dropping their first two games coming out of the holiday break. The Terriers are 8-1-1 in their last 10. The only games BU failed to win came against BC, a 5-3 loss followed by a 1-1 tie in a January 15-16 home-and-home.

Monday marks the 22nd time the two teams face each other with the Beanpot on the line, with BU holding a slight 12-9 edge.

Three Storylines

A Game of Goalie: Legendary BU coach Jack Parker once quipped that hockey should be called ‘goalie’, because of the profound impact the goaltender position has on the outcome of a hockey game. One of the constants of both BC and BU programs is they build their teams from the net-out, the strength of the team coming between the pipes.

This year is no different. BC netminder Thatcher Demko is the consensus best goalie in college hockey. Both his 1.71 GAA and .937 save percentage rank fourth in the country, and leads the nation with eight shutouts. Meanwhile, BU’s Sean Maguire is finding his groove after missing the entire 2014-15 season with a concussion, allowing just eight goals in his last six games, sporting a .956 save percentage over that stretch.

Freshman Show: While there’s no potential top-five picks in the NHL Draft, like when Jack Eichel (BU) and Noah Hanifin (BC) starred in 2014-15, both teams sport deep, talented freshman classes. Colin White, who was taken 21st overall by Ottawa is June’s draft, leads the Eagles in scoring with 16 goals and 35 points. Miles Wood, who was drafted in the fourth round by New Jersey, is fourth on the team with 26. However, both players are game-time decisions with wrist and lower-body injuries, respectively, though both are expected to play according to a report from the blog BC Interruption.

BU’s freshman class is led by defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who was given an A-rating from the NHL Central Scouting Agency (an A-rating means a potential first round pick). He has 14 points in 25 games as a freshman, and has improved as the season has gone on, helped especially by the return of ace blueliner Matt Grzelcyk, who battled injuries for much of the season’s first half. Forward and Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is a 200-foot specimen, whom Grzelcyk deemed ‘Patrice Bergeron 2.0’ on NESN’s Bruins broadcast on Saturday night. Jordan Greenway, a second round pick in 2015 and a big, strong power forward, has seven points in his last five games. He scored two goals in BU’s 6-3 win over UMass on Friday night. Bobo Carpenter has five goals in his last 11 games.

Like Father, Like Son: There’s an old saying about an apple and a tree. It might apply to BU senior Danny O’Regan, the Terriers’ leading scorer with 32 points, whose father, Tom, starred at the school from 1979-83. The two became the first father-son duo to score 50 goals with the same school when Danny netted his 50th career tally in a 5-2 loss at UConn on October 27.

If O’Regan won the Beanpot MVP award, it will mark another shared father-son acolade, as Tom O’Regan won it in 1982.

Other Tidbits

*Each of the last six BC-BU Beanpot finals have been one-goal decisions. Three have been decided in overtime, including the most recent installment, a 3-2 BC win in 2012. The last multi-goal defeat came in 2001, 5-3 BC victory.

*A goaltender hasn’t been named the Beanpot MVP since 2010, when John Muse won it for BC.

*Sean Maguire, who entered the final round of the Beanpot leading the stakes for the Eberly Award (for the goaltender with the highest save percentage), would become the first BU goalie to win the award since 2012, when Kieran Millan did so, and just the third Terrier since Sean Fields went back-to-back in 2003-04.

*Prediction: BC, 2-1.


Kicking Around the Minors: Khokhlachev, Griffith, Czarnik Continue Hot Streaks

A look at the the happenings from around minor league, college, and junior hockey over the weekend:

*The Providence Bruins returned home from a six-game road trip on Sunday, beating Rochester, 5-2. The Bruins, who play 10 of their next 12 games at the Dunkin Donuts Center, began the two-game homestand on a winning note after the 1-5 roadie.

*Alex Khokhlachev, sent down on Saturday after a one-game stint in Boston, tied a season high with four points, scoring two goals. The left-shot center is on a tear, with 7-9–16 totals in 12 games since returning from a hand injury at the beginning of December.

*P-Bruins leading scorer Seth Griffith, sent down along with Koko following a one-week stint in which he saw action in two NHL games, assisted on three goals, including both of Khokhlachev’s. He leads the Baby B’s with 30 points in 25 games.

*Both Griffith and Khokhlachev rank in the top 10 in scoring in the AHL, with Griffith (10-20–30) tied for sixth and Khokhlachev (11-18–29) tied for ninth.

*Austin Czarnik had three assists for the second time in three games. The rookie out of Miami (Ohio) has seven helpers in his last three games, despite having just one goal in his last seven. Czarnik has 18 points in his last 12 games.

*Providence had four powerplay goals in six opportunities. The Bruins have seven goals in their last 15 man-advantage situations. The powerplay unit is the best in the AHL, its success rate currently standing at 24.1 percent.

*Posting a minus-one rating, defenseman Tommy Cross was a minus for the fifth time in his last seven games. He has just one point since the start of November and four since putting up seven in his first six games of the season. The 26-year-old is on a one-year deal that pays $600,000, and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

*Matt Irwin scored 4:27 into the game to open the scoring, extending his goal-scoring streak to three games. The 28-year-old defenseman, in his fifth AHL season, is a plus-four since the start of December. Irwin, who was signed to a one-year deal by the Bruins over the summer and began the season on the NHL roster, playing two games, should be atop the pecking order if Claude Julien is in need of a blueliner.

*Colton Hargrove scored for a third consecutive contest with his tally at 9:49 of the second period. Hargrove has four goals and six points in his last three games.

*Malcolm Subban stopped 27 of 29 shots, shutting out the Amerks in the final 40 minutes, making 18 saves. He hasn’t allowed more than three goals in a game since Nov. 20, a streak of 13 games.

*In World Junior quarterfinal action on Saturday, Team USA advanced to the medal round for the first time since 2013 with a 7-0 win over the Czech Republic. Auston Matthews had a hat trick while Bruins prospects Brandon Carlo and Ryan Donato notched assists.

*It was learned over the weekend that Bruins forward David Pastrnak suffered a finger injury during the tournament, though Julien said the injury isn’t serious. Pastrnak hasn’t played since Oct. 31, missing nearly two months of action before a rehab stint in Providence preceded the World Juniors go-around. The 19-year-old has two goals and four points in 10 games this season.

*Pastrnak finishes the tournament with a goal and four points in foue games. Bruins 2015 top draft pick Jakub Zboril finished with a point. Eighteen-year-old goaltender Daniel Vladar didn’t see any action in the tournament.

*Defending champion Canada was eliminated by Finland, 6-5. The Fins will face Sweden, who beat Slovakia, 6-0, in its quarterfinal match. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson had two points in the win.

*Jake DeBrusk posted a game-high five points (3-2) in Red Deer’s 10-0 win over Brandon in WHL play on Saturday night. DeBrusk has five goals and 10 points in four games since being traded to Red Deer from Swift Current. He had just a goal and three points in eight games leading up to the trade.