BOSTON, Mass. — The new kids crashed the party.
The opening night of the 67th edition of the Beanpot saw freshmen steal the show at the TD Garden in both semifinal games. Both game-winning goals came from first-year standouts.
Jack McBain sent the Boston College Eagles to their first Beanpot final since 2016 with a 2-1 defeat of Harvard.
Northeastern won the right to defend its Beanpot title and go for its first back-to-back championship since the 1984-85 season thanks to Tyler Madden’s goal 51 seconds into the extra session to give the Huskies a 2-1 win over Boston University.
They just went out and played like it was another game and not the longest-running in-season hockey tournament in college hockey. They also listened to their elders.
“Tonight, I just [wanted] to play my game,” Madden said. “You have to give the seniors and juniors credit, I mean on the bench they are the biggest part—they are leaders and I look up to them. I listened to them tonight and [the game] came out the right way.”
Madden is certainly right, his heroics wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the upperclassmen, as senior Patrick Schultz gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead in the first period.
Northeastern is no stranger to having freshmen leading them to the Beanpot title. Goaltender Cayden Primeau led the Huskies to the title last year with a 38-save performance in a 5-2 victory over Boston University .
The BC freshmen are starting to show the talent that made them one of the top freshman classes in the nation coming into the season. It was McBain's sixth goal of the season, and he now has 11 points in 22 games. Last year he tallied 21 goals and 37 assists with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, an effort that saw him drafted by the Minnesota Wild.
The Eagles’ first goal came off the stick of Patrick Giles, another freshman whose role with Boston College has been limited with offensive opportunities as a bottom six forward. It was the first college goal for the Chevy Chase, Maryland, native.
Another Eagle who played a big part in the win was probably BC’s most highly touted rookie, Oliver Wahlstrom, who was drafted 11th overall in June 2018 by the New York Islanders. After a 48 goal and 46 assist campaign with the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 Team, he only has seven goals and six assists in 24 games at the NCAA level.
He had an assist in the victory over Harvard, which he was previously committed to before flipping his commitment to Boston College a year ago.
BC coach Jerry York believes Wahlstrom is getting back to the goal scorer he was in junior hockey and believes Wahlstrom will be a key component for the Eagles down the stretch of the Hockey East season.
“He started slow with us, which is expected being a high draft pick, coming into a new program at 18 years old,” York said. “I’ve seen over the years, it takes a while to adjust. He scored three goals the first night and the expectations were [through] the roof. Reality is, he’s a young kid playing against much older players. It took him a little while to adjust to it. I think the World Juniors gave him the confidence. He went to a huge tournament with his own age group, so he’s not 18 playing against 23-year-olds. He came back full of confidence.”
Wahlstrom had two goals and two assists in seven World Junior games in which he helped Team USA to the silver medal. He has three goals and five assists since returning to the BC lineup.
Despite the lack of production this season from the first years, the upperclassmen still believe in them.
“Like I said before, everyone trusts each other,” Graham McPhee, a junior on the team, said. “Our freshmen, we really rely on those guys. It was huge they came up strong tonight. Like I said, we all trust each other.”
While last night’s winners were carried by the freshmen, Boston University, which lost the heartbreaker to Northeastern for the second straight season was also carried by a freshman. Joel Farabee, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick picked up the Terriers lone goal Monday night in the closing seconds of the first period.
He also had two breakaway opportunities in the second period to beat Primeau for potentially a second or third time on the night.
His coach Albie O’Connell thought Farabee was one of the Terriers’ better players.
“I thought Joel was dynamite,” O’Connell said. “I thought he played very well. Obviously, he would 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 thinks that high skill set and hockey IQ has helped Farabee throughout his first year, as Monday wasn’t been the first time Farabee has created separation from the defenders to get one-on-one opportunities with goalies.
Nathan Fournier has been covering hockey — from high school to the American Hockey League — for the past 10 years. You can follow him on Twitter.