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BOSTON — In the 68th Beanpot title game, the towns of Milton and Bridgewater have a lot to be proud of.
Milton’s Aidan McDonough and Ryan Shea combined for six points and Bridgewater’s Craig Pantano stopped 40 shots as Northeastern defeated Boston University, 5-4, in double-overtime. The Huskies’ Beanpot three-peat is the first in program history.
During double-OT, McDonough (goal, three assists) found Haverhill’s Jordan Harris near the middle of the ice. Harris skated into the zone and made no mistake burying the winning goal.
The Huskies (15-8-3) were on the power play thanks to a steal from Shea (two assists). He was tripped by BU’s Patrick Harper. Shea, who has now won three Beanpots and a Hockey East title, walked to the post-game press conference with the Beanpot in hand.
“The winning culture that we built here, the guys before us had built,” said Shea. “This is why I came to Northeastern. I wanted to win a Beanpot. I wanted to win Hockey East and I thought Northeastern was the best spot for me. Right now, it is looking pretty good.”
The penalty did not come without controversy.
“I am not supposed to comment on officials,” said BU coach Albie O’Connell. “The one thing I will say is the diving in that game that was called, unreal. Unreal. Karma did not catch up for that one. It will. It is just a tough thing to watch.”
In net, Pantano (40 saves) won the Eberly Award for goalie of the tournament. He allowed just a single goal in the semifinal win over Harvard and stopped 27 shots.
“Pantano played unbelievable once again,” said Shea. “He has given us that all year.”
With 51.4 seconds left in regulation, the Huskies iced the puck while nursing a 4-3 lead. The ensuing run of play saw Pantano stopping many opportunities, including a Jake Wise one-timer. But with 1.2 seconds remaining, Wise dished a pass through traffic that somehow landed on the stick of Trevor Zegras (two goals). The freshman rifled a backhand shot by Pantano to tie the game and it sent it to overtime.
Pantano stepped up stopping 15 shots during the two overtime periods.
BU (10-9-8) went to double-OT before defeating Boston College, 5-4, in the semifinals. Both games, however, will count as ties, due to NCAA rules, for the Terriers.
“We needed to get through the first five minutes of overtime to get back in the locker room,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “We just needed to reset. I thought we reset in the locker room. Our captain, Ryan Shea, stood up and he spoke and said some words that were compelling and gave our guys the believability, not the hope, but the believability we were going to win.”
In the third period, BU’s David Farrance ripped a shot from the point just 1:56 into the period to bring the game within one (4-3) with a power-play tally.
Northeastern rallied from a 2-0 deficit after one period. The Huskies converted four times in the second period with all four tallies coming in an 8:30 span. Julian Kislin found McDonough, who fed Tyler Madden for a tic-tac-toe goal following a Madden faceoff win to start the rally. About three minutes later, a Milton-powered connection teamed up to tie the game. Shea dangled behind the net finding a wide-open McDonough for a one-timer in the slot.
“Both him and Ryan, I’ve known for a long time,” said Madigan. “We are all from Milton. I have had Aidan McDonough at my household for the Stanley Cup in 2009 when he was 9 years of age. I have known him a long time so I’m happy for his success.”
Around the midway point of the period, a pair of penalties proved costly for the Terriers. With a 5-on-3 for 1:25, the Huskies took advantage. Shea fired a cross-ice pass to McDonough, who found a wide-open Zach Solow between the circles for a one-timer goal to give Northeastern the lead, 3-2.
While still on the power play, McDonough found Solow with a cross-ice pass, but Solow went to the backhand and his shot ended up hitting both posts before staying out. That only delayed the inevitable as Grant Jozefek received a pass and snuck in between the circles to fire a shot by BU goalie Ashton Abel at the tail end of the power play to finish off the goal-scoring run for the Huskies. Following the goal, BU elected to go with back-up goalie Sam Tucker (13 saves)
“I thought we played a terrific game, pretty much from start to finish,” said O’Connell. “That’s all I have.”
Solow (goal and assist) was named MVP of the tournament. He also scored a goal in the semifinals.
McDonough, a freshman, has 10 goals and 14 assists in 24 games this season
“Big game and Aidan has played really well the whole year,” said Madigan. “He missed all of training camp. Missed the first three or four games. He’s found really good chemistry with him and Madden and Grant Jozefek… He plays the game the right way. He’s got great details and habits and he’s a goal scorer but he can make a play too. You saw that here today.”
In the consolation game, Hanover’s Mike Hardman (goal and an assist) scored a breakaway goal as Boston College defeated Harvard, 7-2.
Matt Cunha can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @CunhaMatthew.