Despite a 47-save performance from junior goaltender Jake Oettinger, the Boston University men’s hockey team suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Northeastern University in the semifinal round of the Beanpot at TD Garden Monday night.
“It hurts, it’s frustrating,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell, who saw his Terriers (10-12-3, 8-6-2 Hockey East) knocked off by the Huskies (16-8-1, 9-6-1 Hockey East) in Beanpot play for the second year in a row.
As they had in six consecutive games prior, BU conceded the game’s first goal, with Northeastern’s opener coming at the 3:14 mark in the first period. On a giveaway in the Terrier end, forward Liam Pecararo provided the feed to linemate Patrick Schule, who fired it past Oettinger to put the Huskies on top.
“The first one, [Oettinger] didn’t really have much of a chance on,” O’Connell said after the game.
BU squandered two early opportunities on the frame’s only power plays but eventually found their equalizer with 21 seconds to play in the stanza.
On a pass from sophomore forward Shane Bowers, classmate defenseman Cam Crotty launched a wrister toward Northeastern keeper Cayden Primeau. The puck fell to Joel Farabee alone at the back post, where the freshman forward angled the rebound in off Primeau to tally his 10th goal of the season and knot the game at one going into the break.
“I thought Joel was dynamite,” O’Connell said.
In a scoreless second period, Oettinger came up big with some dazzling saves as pressure poured in from the Huskies. BU garnered their best chances toward the end of the frame but could not capitalize.
Farabee had the clearest opportunities for the Terriers in the second frame. He got in alone twice within the period’s final five minutes but was denied by Primeau on both occasions. Ahead of the final 20 minutes, the teams would retreat to the locker rooms still tied 1-1.
“You’d like to bury those chances, but to put yourself in a situation to get two breakaways in a game obviously shows a high level of intelligence and skill,” O’Connell said about Farabee’s two missed opportunities.
The drama continued into the third period, as the tension mounted the longer the game stayed even. Northeastern took 34 shots in the final 20 minutes of regulation alone, holding a 48-27 lead in shots on goal after the full 60.
“We were dominating them, so we had all the confidence,” Northeastern’s Primeau said regarding the mindset of his Huskies during their offensive onslaught in the Terrier end.
Despite the pressure, Oettinger refused to budge, and both the BU junior and his counterpart Primeau remained strong to keep the game level despite late power plays for both sides in the waning minutes of regulation.
The scoreline would hold after three periods of play, and the teams would continue on to overtime.
“I thought both goalies were outstanding,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said.
The additional frame did not last long, as the Huskies rallied for a game-winner just 51 seconds in.
Taking advantage of a mistimed Terrier line change, junior defenseman Jeremy Davies found freshman forward Tyler Madden streaking into the BU end. Oettinger got a piece of Madden’s shot on the breakaway, but the puck would trickle through, bringing an abrupt end to BU’s 2019 Beanpot bid and sending the Huskies into next week’s final.
“[There were] bright lights out there, and I shine in those,” Madden said about the goal.
The loss to Northeastern was also a repeat of last season’s championship game, which saw the Huskies overcome BU to win their first Beanpot title in three decades.
“I think everyone on our team is disappointed,” O’Connell said about the heartbreaking loss. “Tip the cap to [Northeastern].”
While he may have finished on the losing side of the game, Oettinger’s 47 saves were his most since last year’s Beanpot tournament, in which the Minnesota native also tallied 47 in a victorious semifinal effort against Harvard.
“It was probably one of the best games he’s played in a BU uniform,” O’Connell said of Oettinger. “It’s a good sign for our team if he can play at that level.”
Looking forward, the Terriers will travel to Amherst to face the No. 2 University of Massachusetts Friday night before returning to the Garden to face Harvard in the Beanpot’s third place game Jan. 11.