Boston College played its best game of the season Tuesday night, pushing ninth-ranked North Carolina to the limit before dropping a 66-63 decision at Conte Forum. Eli Carter led the way for BC with a game-high 26 points, while Dennis Clifford had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

However, the bigger news from the game was longtime UNC coach Roy Williams collapsing during a second-half timeout. A team spokesman said Williams had a bout of vertigo, something the 65-year-old has dealt with in the past.

The incident occurred early in the second half. After the media timeout was called, Williams complained to an official about a call, then fell to the floor just after he got to his team’s huddle. Williams, who was holding his forehead, received immediate attention from the team’s trainer.

After the timeout ended, he was escorted to the locker room, where he remained for the rest of the game.

Assistant coach Steve Robinson took over coaching duties for the Tar Heels, who trailed by seven points with just over seven minutes remaining after a dunk by BC center Dennis Clifford.

UNC (20-4, 9-2) then scored the game’s next eight points, taking a 57-56 lead on the second of two Theo Pinson free throws with just under four minutes left.

Eli Carter hit a 3-pointer for BC (7-17, 0-11) with 2:22 left to give the Eagles their final lead at 60-59. Marcus Paige answered with a 3-pointer (while being fouled, although he missed the free throw) 30 seconds later.

A Matt Millon trey with eight seconds left drew BC within one at 66-65. After two free throws from Paige extended the UNC lead to three, Carter missed a running halfcourt heave at the buzzer.

Justin Jackson scored 20 points off the bench to lead UNC.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
BC won its sixth Beanpot in the last seven years. (WEEI.com)

BC won its sixth Beanpot in the last seven years. (WEEI.com)

The Beanpot may be lacking variety — it’€™s been 23 years since someone other than Boston College or Boston University won — but it’€™s certainly not lacking excitement. For the eighth time in the last 13 years, the Beanpot championship game was decided in overtime. And this one was a classic, as the Eagles took down the Terriers in a thrilling 1-0 overtime victory.

The third-ranked Eagles and seventh-ranked Terriers combined for 67 shots on goal in regulation, but BU’€™s Sean Maguire and BC’€™s Thatcher Demko made one great save after another to keep the game goalless. Maguire made 38 saves in regulation (and 41 in the game), including 23 in the first period alone, while Demko made 30 in the game and twice stayed in after getting banged up.

The game-winning goal came 1:57 into overtime when Alex Tuch cut to the middle on the rush and fired a shot across the grain that finally beat Maguire.

Each team had a golden chance to score midway through the third. Right around the 10-minute mark, Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald appeared to have a breakaway for BC, but fellow Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk caught him from behind and made a great play to knock Fitzgerald off the puck without taking a penalty.

Seconds later, BU had a chance at the other end. Jordan Greenway got a step on defenseman Michael Kim and shielded him off enough to get away a shot, but Demko made a great shoulder save. Greenway went down as he took the shot and wound up crashing hard into Demko. Demko was slow to get up, but stayed in the game.

If you just looked at the scoreboard at the end of the first period and saw 0-0, you might conclude that not much happened. And you’€™d be very wrong. For starters, the TD Garden lights went out at the 11:07 mark and the game was delayed 28 minutes before they came back on.

Beyond that, there were lots of quality scoring chances, most of them by BC. The Eagles dominated much of the first period, especially pre-blackout, but Maguire made one great save after another. BC put 23 shots on goal in the first period and 11 of them were from the home plate area.

Maguire made two big saves during a dangerous early-game sequence, first on an Austin Cangelosi rebound bid from right in front and then a few seconds later on a Miles Wood chance from the slot. His biggest save came with 1:50 left in the period when he stoned Wood on a breakaway.

The Terriers put 12 shots on goal in the first period, which only looks like a small number because of BC’€™s 23. Similar to the back-to-back chances by Fitzgerald and Greenway in the third period, Demko’€™s two biggest saves in the first came on BU’€™s counter-rushes after Maguire’€™s biggest saves.

After those back-to-back saves early in the game, BU broke in 2-on-1 the other way, but Demko made a great sprawling save on Danny O’€™Regan. And after Wood’€™s breakaway, Demko made a big save on a hard Charlie McAvoy shot, one that caught Demko up high and temporarily stunned him.

The second period wasn’€™t nearly as exciting. The most notable development was probably BC’€™s struggles on the power play. The Eagles got a pair of man advantages in the first half of the period, but did absolutely nothing with them. BU’€™s penalty kill certainly deserves credit, but the Eagles were sloppy even when they weren’€™t under pressure.

BU also tightened up its five-on-five defense in the second. After allowing 11 shots on goal from the home plate area in the first, the Terriers surrendered just one from that space in the second, as they just did a much better job slowing down BC’€™s rush and keeping the Eagles to the outside. Unfortunately for the Terriers, they didn’€™t create any really great chances at the other end either.

This was the Eagles’€™ sixth Beanpot title in the last seven years, as they had won five in a row before BU ended that streak last year.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

Just as it seemed like Boston College was starting to get over all the injuries and illnesses that plagued it throughout much of December and January, the Eagles find their lineup in flux once again with Monday’s Beanpot final again Boston University approaching.

Forwards Miles Wood (26 points in 24 games this season) and Chris Calnan (9 points in 21 games) both missed Friday night’s 4-3 win over New Hampshire with what Jerry York termed “lower-body injuries.”

Then to make matters worse, first-line center and leading scorer Colin White (35 points in 25 games) left Friday’s game in the third period and did not return. York said after the game that White suffered “kind of a sprained wrist.”

York said the statuses of White, Wood and Calnan for Monday night are all uncertain and that he would have to see how the next couple days go.

One minor positive for BC is that Ian Milosz was back in the No. 2 goalie role behind Thatcher Demko Friday night. The Eagles had to add student manager Chuck Van Kula (who did play goalie in high school) to the team for Monday’s Beanpot opener against Harvard because all three of their other backups were out.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

Boston University coach David Quinn and senior forward Danny O’Regan talk about what it means to be headed back to the Beanpot final to defend their championship after a 3-1 win over Northeastern Monday night in the semifinals at TD Garden. They will be facing the Boston College Eagles, a 3-2 winner over Harvard in the first game.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Northeastern coach Jim Madigan watched as his team’s season-best six-game winning streak came to an end Monday night with a 3-1 loss to Boston University in the 2016 Beanpot semifinals at TD Garden. Northeastern seniors fell just short of becoming the first class in school history to reach four straight Beanpot finals. The school still hasn’t won a Beanpot title since 1988.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
John Stevens pounces on loose puck before scoring late for Northeastern. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

John Stevens pounces on loose puck before scoring late for Northeastern. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

No one could blame David Quinn for cringing when he heard the question.

But still the Boston University coach had to be asked what it felt like to be coaching his first game in TD Garden since the dramatic meltdown nine months earlier that cost his team the national title.

Last April 11, BU led Providence College, 3-2, with under nine minutes left in the third period of the Frozen Four championship game at TD Garden. Jack Eichel was going to head to the NHL with a national championship under his belt. Then, the Friars exploded for two goals in a span of two minutes, 19 seconds to skate away with the trophy.

In Monday’s 3-1 win, there was an eery sense of deja vu when Northeastern made it a one-goal game with 3:12 left in the third. But there would be no next goal for Northeastern as the Terriers advanced to their 51st Beanpot title appearance. Was there a sense of exorcising some demons?

“No, we didn’t really talk about that too much,” Quinn said. “Really not a lot of connection between what happened last year and what’s going on right now. We’ve got such great seniors. And they’ve really done a great job and leading them on and off the ice. Your success is always tied to your upperclassmen, and you need seniors. We didn’t have a lot of them last year but we had great ones. And we’ve got more of them this year than we did last year and they have done a phenomenal job in so many ways to allow us to have some success so far.”

“I thought we had a great response from the guys,” said senior forward Danny O’Regan, who endured last April’s heartbreak. “Definitely a dagger, three minutes left, guys are starting to get a little worried.”

Quinn wasn’t thinking so much about last April as he was last month, when he felt he was outcoached by the legendary Jerry York and the Eagles beat the Terriers, 5-3, on Jan. 15 at Kelley Rink. The next night at Agganis, the Terriers gave up a late goal to allow the Eagles to salvage a 1-1 tie.

“It was funny. When that series ended, as a staff, we were not happy at all,” Quinn said after Monday’s win. “We looked like a very poorly coached team. We felt, I in particular, felt we had let a lot go in the time we had been back [from break]. I know the scores may look like the games were close even though BC scored in both games with two minutes to go. But I thought they were clearly the better team both nights. We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did against them three weeks ago if we’re going to have a chance.”

All the Terriers wanted was another chance and they’ll get it next Monday. For the 22nd time in the epic history of the Beanpot final, Boston University will square off against Boston College, with the Terriers holding a 12-9 advantage.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play them in the [Beanpot] finals and it’s kind of how you draw it up,” O’Regan said. “We definitely owe them after a few weeks ago, so we’re all definitely excited to play them.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
BU advanced to the Beanpot final with a 2-0 win over Northeastern on Monday. (WEEI.com)

BU advanced to the Beanpot final with a 2-0 win over Northeastern on Monday. (WEEI.com)

There was reason to believe this year might be different. Harvard entered the Beanpot as a top-10 team in the country. Northeastern entered on an eight-game unbeaten streak. But in the end, Monday night was the same old story. After Boston College beat Harvard 3-2 in the night’€™s first matchup, Boston University knocked off Northeastern with a 3-1 victory in the night cap.

For the 23rd straight year, one of BU or BC will win the Beanpot title. They’€™ll meet next Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game. The Terriers will be looking to defend their title and repeat for the first time since 2006-07. The Eagles will be trying to re-establish their dominance, as they had won five in a row prior to last year.

Northeastern made things interesting late, as John Stevens’ rebound goal with 3:12 remaining cut BU’s lead in half, but the Huskies couldn’t finish the comeback. The Terriers responded to Stevens’ goal with a long offensive-zone possession, taking more than a minute off the clock in the process. The Huskies were finally able to get goalie Ryan Ruck off with about 1:30 to go and then get into the offensive zone, but Doyle Somerby picked off a pass in the slot and fired into the empty net from his own end to seal the win.

BU and Northeastern both struggled to get shots on goal through the first 12 minutes of Monday’€™s night cap, but there was a good pace and plenty of back-and-forth play. Each team had a quality scoring chance in the middle part of the period, but couldn’€™t capitalize. BU’€™s Matt Lane used his great speed to blow by the Northeastern defense, leading to a rebound chance for Jordan Greenway, but Ruck came up with a big save. A minute later, Northeastern’€™s Mike McMurtry forced a turnover in the BU zone and went in alone on Sean Maguire, but Maguire came up with a big pad save to keep the game scoreless.

The Terriers broke through to take a 1-0 lead with 6:46 left in the period. Ryan Cloonan made a great play to keep the puck in at the blue line, leading to a chance for Bobo Carpenter (son of Bobby Carpenter). Carpenter’€™s first shot was blocked, but he got the puck back and flipped a shot toward the post that Robbie Baillargeon tapped in out of mid-air.

BU struck again a little more than three minutes later. Oskar Andren made a nice cross-ice pass to Danny O’€™Regan through the neutral zone, allowing O’€™Regan to lead a rush into the offensive zone. O’€™Regan then dished to freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who fired a shot blocker-side for his second goal of the season.

McAvoy’€™s skillset was on full display Monday night, as he showed why he’€™s projected to be a first-round pick in this summer’€™s NHL draft. In addition to the goal, he also made a great one-on-one defensive play to fend off Nolan Stevens and then immediately turn the puck up ice to start a rush. Shortly after his goal, he sprang O’€™Regan on a breakaway with a long tape-to-tape outlet pass. In the second period, he had a great keep-in on the power play that eventually led to a golden chance for Greenway, who was robbed by Ruck.

The Terriers controlled play for much of the second period, outshooting Northeastern 15-8 in the frame. The Huskies did have a couple good looks, though. John Stevens led a shorthanded two-on-one, but his aerial centering pass skipped over Sam Kurker’€™s stick. Later in the period, Eric Williams and McMurtry both had shots that popped off Maguire’€™s glove and into the slot, but BU beat Northeastern to the rebound on both occasions. Through two period, the Huskies had just three shots on goal from the grade-A area.

With the loss, Northeastern’€™s Beanpot drought extends to 28 years since it last won way back in 1988.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

Harvard entered Monday’€™s Beanpot opener with the second-best power play in the country, but it was Boston College‘€™s special teams that wound up deciding the game. The Eagles scored a pair of goals on the man advantage in the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead and wound up holding on for the 3-2 win. They also killed both of Harvard’€™s power plays, including one late in the third period as the Crimson were pushing for a tying goal.

The Eagles will take on the winner of Monday night’€™s Boston University-Northeastern matchup in next Monday’€™s Beanpot championship game. They will be looking to win their sixth Beanpot in the last seven years.

BC took a 1-0 just 1:35 into the game when Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald made a great backhand pass from the corner to find his brother, Casey, in the high slot. Casey Fitzgerald then teed up a slapper and beat Merrick Madsen blocker-side.

The Eagles held Harvard without a shot on goal through the first nine minutes of the game, but all it took was one for the Crimson to tie the game. Tyler Moy made a big shot block in the defensive zone and Bruins prospect Ryan Donato won a foot race the other way before beating Thatcher Demko five-hole on a partial breakaway with 10:13 left in the first.

Harvard also scored on its second shot of the game five minutes later. After Demko lost his stick in a collision in the crease, Alex Kerfoot got the puck out to Adam Baughman at the point, and Baughman took a shot that beat Demko — still without a stick — between the legs. The play was reviewed because of the collision in the crease, but replay showed that Demko clearly had time to reset himself, even if he wasn’€™t able to get his stick back. The goal was the first career point for the freshman Baughman, who was playing in just his second career game.

After killing off a Harvard power play late in the first period, BC tied the game on its first power play 6:05 into the second. Ian McCoshen took a shot from the point that was tipped by Alex Tuch, and while Madsen made that save, Zach Sanford was right there to bury the rebound.

The Eagles’€™ power play struck again four minutes later. Teddy Doherty worked the puck to Colin White in the left circle. White, the second-highest-scoring freshman in the country, then showed great patience in getting Baughman to bite on a shot fake before walking around him and firing past Madsen.

The Crimson got a golden opportunity to tie the game when Desmond Bergin drew a penalty with 6:59 to go, but they couldn’€™t capitalize on the ensuing power play. BC’€™s penalty kill was outstanding, as the Eagles repeatedly disrupted Harvard’€™s entries and never really let the man advantage get set up.

This marks the eighth straight year that Harvard has failed to reach the Beanpot championship game.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

College Puckcast: 2016 Beanpot Preview

While Northeastern tends to be the butt of most Beanpot jokes (the Huskies haven’t won the tournament since 1988), Harvard continues to experience quite the drought itself. The Crimson haven’t won since 1993, and they haven’t even made the final since 2008.

This year’s team is as good as any Harvard has had over the last 20 years, as the Crimson are currently 12-4-3 and fifth in the national Pairwise rankings. They’re well on their way to a second straight NCAA tournament appearance, and it would be fair to call them a national title contender.

Before they get to that, though, Harvard would like to end its Beanpot drought. On WEEI’s College Puckcast, Ted Donato — now in his 12th season as the Crimson’s head coach — admitted he’s feeling some Beanpot pressure.

“The truth of it is, yeah, we do put pressure on ourselves. I know I do,” Donato said. “I want to win the Beanpot at Harvard here. I want our guys to enjoy that experience. Our guys have certainly circled it on their calendars and schedules and know the importance of the game. I don’t think they put pressure on themselves in relation to the overall record over the years. Each team is a new team and each year is a new year, but there’s no denying that we would like to play really well and win the Beanpot.”

The Crimson open the tournament in Monday’s 5 p.m. game against No. 6 Boston College in what could very well be the game of the tournament. The Eagles rank in the top five nationally in both team offense and team defense, and they lead the country with a plus-2.36 goal margin per game. Simply put, BC is a team without any weaknesses.

“They have a very well-balanced team,” Donato said. “It starts in the net with Thatcher Demko being one of the best goalies in college hockey. Their D corps is a very talented group. Lot of experience there. They have a good mix of size and skill and speed. And then up front, they have their usual arsenal of dangerous forwards. Guys like [Ryan] Fitzgerald and Colin White and [Adam] Gilmour and [Chris] Calnan, [Austin] Cangelosi. The list goes on and on. They’re a very talented team with great balance. I expect the game to be very competitive, very fast, very skilled. They’re a tough challenge for anybody and we’re excited to have that opportunity.”

BC may have the deeper team, but Harvard probably has the best player and best line in the tournament, if not the country. Jimmy Vesey was already a Hobey Baker finalist last season, and he’s well on his way to being one again. The North Reading native and Predators draft pick is second nationally in points per game with 16 goals and 16 assists in 19 games. He and linemates Alex Kerfoot and Kyle Criscuolo have combined for 1.8 goals per game this season.

“I think Jimmy continues to improve and develop,” Donato said. “He’s become a really gifted 200-foot player. He’s gone from a guy that we relied on offensively to a guy that we rely on in all situations. He kills penalties. He’s out there not only if we’re down a goal at the end of the game, but also if we’re up a goal and trying to protect a lead. He’s really done a lot of things to improve as a player. He deserves a lot of credit.”

The Eagles, who are looking to win their sixth Beanpot in the last seven years, know that beating Harvard starts with limiting that line’s chances. Ian McCoshen and Steve Santini, two of the best defensemen in college hockey, should both see plenty of that trio throughout the game.

“They have great forwards,” BC associate head coach Greg Brown said on the College Puckcast. “Their first line is probably as good as any in the country, if not the best line in the country. We know you have to limit those guys. It’s hard to limit all their chances, but we know we can’t be loose with the puck against them because they can make you pay as much as anybody.”

The Eagles’ top line isn’t too shabby, either. Bruins draft pick Ryan Fitzgerald already has a career-high 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in a standout junior season, but it’s freshman center Colin White who drives BC’s No. 1 unit. The Hanover native and Senators first-round pick ranks second nationally among freshmen and eighth overall in points per game with 15 goals and 18 assists in 23 games.

“We knew he’s a tremendous hockey player and that he would be great,” Brown said of White. “I guess you never know how quickly the offense is going to come for a player. You know with a player of his caliber that the offense will come, but I guess you could say that even we were surprised that it came as quickly as it did. He had no trouble jumping right into college hockey, playing against bigger, stronger defensemen. It’s been impressive to watch.”

No. 8 Boston University takes on Northeastern in the night cap Monday. The game is a rematch of last year’s Beanpot championship game, which BU won 4-3 in overtime. The Terriers haven’t let the loss of Jack Eichel derail them, as they boast the eighth-best offense in the country. The Huskies, meanwhile, have turned things around after a dreadful start to the season and actually enter the Beanpot as the hottest team in the field with a six-game winning streak and eight-game unbeaten streak.

Check out our latest episode of the College Puckcast for more from Brown and Donato, as well as a complete tournament preview with John ‘Jocko’ Connolly of the Boston Herald.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

Jerry York will have a chance to get his 1,000th career win against his biggest rival. College hockey’€™s all-time winningest coach picked up win No. 999 Friday night at Conte Forum as No. 4 Boston College beat No. 10 Boston University 5-3 and will now go for No. 1,000 when the two teams meet again Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

Of course, York isn’€™t thinking about the milestone, and he doesn’€™t want his team to either.

“People think it’s hard to believe, but I’m not involved in that,” York said. “We’ve always talked about Eagles and playing as a team. That’s why I coach a team sport. I think it’s important to be ‘we’ not ‘me.’ It’s just a number to me. The early part of my career I didn’t think I’d get to 37. They’re just numbers.”

Friday’€™s game appeared to be headed for overtime after BU’€™s Matt Lane scored a power-play goal (BU’€™s third of the night on the man advantage) with 4:12 to go to tie the game at 3-3. But then the Eagles got a power play of their own and took advantage.

With 2:10 remaining, Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald left a pass for junior defenseman Ian McCoshen, who ripped a one-timer blocker-side to give BC a 4-3 lead. McCoshen then added an empty-netter on a shot from behind his own goal line to finish the game with a career-high four points on two goals and two assists.

“I haven’t been around for all 286 games with BU, contrary to what some people might think, but there is something special about the rivalry,” York said. “I thought tonight there were some good players, boy, in red-and-white and maroon-and-gold. Some really talented, high-end guys. The momentum swings back and forth kind of highlight college hockey at its best here.”

The first period was relatively uneventful until the Terriers took advantage of a late power play. With 1:59 left in the period, Ahti Oksanen carried into the zone before sending a pass to Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in the high slot, and the Bruins second-round pick fired a shot past Thatcher Demko for his sixth goal of the season.

The second period was much more eventful. Austin Cangelosi tied the game at 1-1 2:01 into the period when he scored on a penalty shot after getting hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway. BU regained the lead just 17 seconds later when Forsbacka Karlsson made a great centering pass to Oksanen while getting tripped.

The Eagles tied it again three minutes later when a McCoshen blast from the point led to a juicy rebound that Zach Sanford buried. They took their first lead with 4:25 left in the second when Casey Fitzgerald made a great cross-ice pass to set up Colin White for a power-play goal. White, a Senators first-round pick, now has 12 goals and 16 assists in 19 games, putting him second nationally in freshman scoring behind only Michigan’s Kyle Connor.

With the win BC remained one point behind UMass-Lowell for first in Hockey East, although the Eagles have two games in hand on the River Hawks. BU remains in fifth and is now six points back.

BU coach David Quinn expressed his displeasure with his team’€™s effort after the game.

“Frustrating loss. I thought we took a little bit of a step back tonight,” Quinn said. “Certainly not the way we want to play or need to play if we want to have success moving forward. I thought we were slow. I thought we were soft.”

Note: Conte honored the late, great David Bowie by playing ‘€œSpace Oddity’€ leading up to the opening faceoff and then five other Bowie songs throughout the game. Ron Poster also played ‘€œModern Love’€ on organ. This reporter appreciated all of it very much.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin