The Beanpot trophy is not a gaudy thing, it’s just an old silver crockpot, but it shines like the sun when you hold it over your head in Boston on the second Monday of February.
Thirty years is a long time to wait for a celebration. And to a man, the Northeastern Huskies jumped, tumbled, and leaped over the boards to race jubilantly across the TD Garden ice, screaming their joy Monday night after Northeastern (17-8-5) defeated Boston University (15-12-3), 5-2, to win the 66th annual Beanpot.
They simply could not hug each other fast enough.
The Beanpot stands for best in Boston, and it was the first Beanpot title for Northeastern since 1988 after reaching the championship game 10 times in that stretch. It was the fifth title in Northeastern history.
“We haven’t won a Beanpot in 30 years and people keep asking you, ‘How about the Beanpot?’ It starts playing on you mentally,’’ said NU coach Jim Madigan. “And these young men just stayed focused on the task at hand, and blocked out the noise as much as you can, and were just so driven to make sure that this came back to the university.”
Everybody came through for Northeastern.
Junior forward Adam Gaudette, the nation’s leading scorer, completed his hat trick with an empty-net goal at 19:29 of the third period. His linemate, senior Nolan Stevens, scored one. The power play was unstoppable, scoring three goals in three attempts. Freshman goalie Cayden Primeau made 38 saves, a half-dozen of them game-changers. Everything that was possible happened.
“The first thing I thought about was ‘Hey we’re finally over the hump,’ ’’ said Madigan, who has been an NU player, assistant coach, and now coach.
He explained that he’s had a love affair with Northeastern going back to 1981.
“For me it just means so much to the institution, it means so much to the young men who had the experience,” he said. “For me, this was about our kids, I know they deserve this.”
Stevens and Gaudette were part of a Huskie squad that won the Hockey East tournament two years ago, but this was bigger.
“We’ve watched other teams win it for so many years,’’ Stevens said. “I’ve seen a lot of classes come through this school and not get a chance to do that. Those guys built a foundation for us to have this opportunity and maybe that’s where the emotion is coming from, just thinking of those guys.”
Northeastern rode its formidable power play to a 4-1 lead after two periods, Gaudette connecting for two.
“We’ve had that power play since I’ve been here three years, and it’s just clicked,” said Gaudette. “We’re so confident out there and so comfortable, we just know where each other’s going to be. We’re in the right spots.’’
Gaudette grew up in Braintree and TD Garden was full of his family and friends, making his Beanpot experience unforgettable.
“It’s something I’ll remember forever,’’ he said, “and I got to do it with a group of guys that I can call my family. It’s just all the more special like that.
“It’s just something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid. A picture-perfect night.”
The Terriers took the lead at 12:35 of the first period, manufacturing a goal from behind the NU net. Logan Cockerill slipped the puck between his legs, trying to push it out front. The puck hit Primeau’s stick and fell back inside the right post.
But BU gave Northeastern two power plays and the Huskies made them pay.
With Nikolas Olsson sitting out a tripping call, Stevens netted a silky smooth goal, his 20th of the season. In the middle of the offensive zone, Stevens took a pass from Zach Solow, pulled the puck around BU defenseman Chad Krys, and then left Jake Oettinger looking at his toes when he tucked a shot between the goalie’s pads at 14:38. It was Stevens’s fifth goal against BU this season in three games.
The Huskies got another chance with the man advantage when Chase Phelps was whistled for interference at 16:09. This time Jeremy Davies found Gaudette alone in front of Oettinger. The sharpshooter bobbled his shot wide.
It wouldn’t happen again. Given a second chance from the left circle, Gaudette buried his 22nd of the season at 17:32.
The Huskies were tied for sixth in the nation on the power play going into the game with a 25 percent success rate.
“The story of the game was power plays,’’ said BU coach David Quinn. “They got three, we got none.
“Two offensive-zone penalties, which we just can’t have against that team . . . You’re going to take a penalty to prevent a goal that’s one thing, but you can’t be taking penalties of that nature and expect to give yourself a great chance.”
The goalies took center stage in the first half of the second period, matching each other with a sequence of heart-stopping saves. Primeau smothered a dangerous backhand attempt by Hank Crone at the four-minute mark and then Oettinger stuffed a point-blank shot from Phelps.
Trevor Owens gave Northeastern the two-goal lead it so needed at 14:32 of the second, finishing a passing sequence from Austin Goldstein and Patrick Schule at the left circle with a shot that sliced over Oettinger’s left shoulder.
BU was running out of chances and lost another one when Brady Tkachuk took a cross-checking penalty at 19:25. The NU power play cashed in on a tic-tac-toe passing setup, Gaudette taking Dylan Sikura’s pass across the goalmouth and ripping it into the net for his second goal of the game with 3.5 seconds left in the period.
BU’s Shane Bowers scored for BU at 17:20 of the third with the goalie pulled, but the Terriers couldn’t stop Northeastern. It was the Huskies’ night, all night.