BC and BU advance to Beanpot finals

77981.jpg

BC and BU advance to Beanpot finals

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The first Monday in February has only one meaning for college hockey fans in Boston.

The Beanpot.

2010 marks the 58th year of the Hub hockey tournament and both of the first night's games did well in adding to the events storied past.

The opener featured a face off between Boston College (14-8-2) and Harvard (5-12-3). That the score would favor the Eagles was a popular guess that proved true with the 6-0 final. The Crimson simply had no answer for BC's trademark quick-tempo style.

The scoring onslaught started when senior Ben Smith put the Eagles out front at 5:54 with a tip-in from the right post. The goal came on the man-advantage after Crimson defenseman Chris Huxley was tagged for interference. It was the first of three BC power play goals. It was also just the first of 16 Harvard penalties. By the time the third period started, the Eagles were up 3-0 and Harvard backstop Kyle Richter looked more than a little rattled. His team's frustration translated into a staggering 34 PIM in the third period.

Crimson coach Ted Donato did not defend his team's miscues.

"I thought BC was clearly the better team tonight," he said. "They beat us to all of the loose pucks and used their speed to force us into taking penalties. I don't think we gave ourselves a chance to win."

The Crimson did show signs of life in the second period. Harvard's defense put some solid pressure on BC, at times taking the puck possession game away from the Eagles and turning up the heat on goalie John Muse.

But Muse was up to the task. His 33-save performance was good for the first Boston College Beanpot shutout since 2002.

"I wasn't looking for a shutout," Muse said, "I was looking for a win. Luckily we scored a bunch of goals, that always helps."

A bunch of goals from a bunch of players.

Six different Eagles got the better of Richter. From the first line to the fourth, each Boston College grouping was able to find the back of the net in its impressive scoring spread. Head coach Jerry York gave specific commendation to the play of seniors Matt Price (1g), Ben Smith (1g, 1a), Carl Sneep (1g, 2a) and Matt Lombardi. But later York returned to the importance of everybody getting involved.

"We have much more balanced scoring this season and that's critical," he said. "Sometimes your top lines aren't going to score so I think whether it's Chris Kreider (1g) scoring or scoring from Ben Smith, it's going to help."

Northeastern coach Greg Cronin would have enjoyed even half of BC's offensive output.

Though not completely besieged between the pipes as Harvard was, the Huskies could not score when it mattered and fell to Boston University in the nightcap, 2-1.

It was a game that differed from the first in nearly every capacity. There were only 12 total penalties and three goals, yet the contest between NU and BU was gritty and action-packed. The scarcity of scoring actually created a tension that threatened to blow the roof off the TD Garden when the lamps finally lit.

After a scoreless first period, Colby Cohen was the first to release some pressure.

The Terriers found themselves with a power play at 11:30 when NU right winger Chris Donovan was whistled for holding. Goalie Chris Rawlings did a solid job fending off BU's attacks on net, but was overwhelmed when Nick Bonino fed a cross-box pass to Chris Connolly who got the puck to Cohen for a short angle score.

Northeastern returned the favor in the final frame on a power play of its own. At 12:10 BU's David Warsofsky was sent to the box for a monster open-ice hit that leveled Wade MacLeod. Kyle Kraemer used the man-advantage to fired a wrister past Terrier netminder Kieran Millan. An intense back-and-forth battle for the lead followed. Both squads had scoring chances, but Rawlings and Millan protected the pipes as well as their teammates could ask for.

One team would have to make a big play. Monday night, that team was Boston University.

Those up to snuff on their Beanpot history were probably not surprised when a BU forward broke the 1-1 tie with 5:47 remaining in regulation. The win advances the Terriers to the championship for the 42nd time in the last 48 years. As for the Huskies, theyve failed to beat BU in the Beanpot since 1985.

But Cronin doesnt care about the burden of Beanpots past. After all, Alex Chiasson, the Canadien-born freshman who stifled NUs hopes, didnt even know the tournament existed until he was in prep school.

Cronin instead sees the dropped contest as all too explainable.

"We had six chances with the puck on our stick right in front of BU's net and we refused to shoot, he stated. "In a game like this with a playoff type of atmosphere, when you get scoring chances in the slot you better shoot the puck.

If the first round was predictable, it was nonetheless entertaining. The outcome of next Mondays final showdown between BU and BC is harder to forecast. The Eagles lost a tight one to the Terriers in front of 38,472 people at Frozen Fenway on Jan. 8. They dropped the rematch, too, in a 5-4 overtime game. Boston College is consequently out for blood. History, however, is once again on the side of Boston Universitys tourney-best 27 titles. Perhaps it was in the safety of this advantage that coach Jack Parker surprised the post-game crowd with this statement:

"The Beanpot is losing its luster a little bit if its constantly going to be BC and BU winning this tournament.

There is probably some truth in Parkers sentiment. But when either team is crowned with the Hub's highest college hockey honor next Monday, don't look for it in the attendance. In the end, even Parker can admit.

"Nothing compares to a Beanpot final."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

After Boston’s last game against Portland – a loss – Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he was encouraged by some of the things his team did defensively.

It’s safe to say Stevens won’t be singing that tone if the Celtics continue along the path they’re on defensively right now as the Washington Wizards went into the half with a 66-59 lead.

Washington, donning all-black clothes when they arrived at the Verizon Center, were very much looking as though they were digging a basketball grave for the Boston Celtics who allowed the Wizards to shoot a ridiculous 65 percent from the field in the first half and 61.5 percent (8-for-13) from 3-point range.

The Wizards scored the first four points of the game and spent all of the first half playing with a lead.

But the Celtics showed some fight late in the second quarter, going on a 14-6 run to cut Washington’s lead to 55-52 with 3:39 to play in the quarter.

Boston would later have a chance to tie the game, but Marcus Smart’s 3-pointer was off the mark.

And the Wizards, as they had done all game, made the Celtics pay as Bradley Beal drained a jumper that made it a two-possession game.

Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Bradley Beal

It was his idea to go with the all-Black look, and he backed up his talk with a strong first half of play. He has a team-high 14 points at the half along with five assists.

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas delivered yet another all-star caliber scoring performance in the first half for Boston. He led all scorers with 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting along with a game-high eight assists.  

John Wall

After scoring just nine points when these two met on Jan. 11, Wall has 13 points at the half on 6-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

It was an extremely efficient game offensively in the first half for Horford. He had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three assists.

Markieff Morris

He’s one of four double-digit scorers in the first half for the Wizards. In addition to his 10 points, he also has five rebounds and three assists.

 

DUDS

Celtics defense

At this end of the floor, the Celtics were absolutely atrocious in the first half. The Wizards shot a ridiculously high 65 percent from the field, and were just as lethal (8-for-13, 61.5 percent) from 3-point land. They have no shot at competing let alone winning tonight’s game, if they don’t turn things around and do so soon!

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Just about every part of Isaiah Thomas’ game offensively has seen tremendous growth this season.

But what has really separated him from earlier versions of himself, has been his 3-point shooting.

He comes into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards shooting a career best 38.4 percent from 3-point range.

When asked about how he has elevated his game this season, the answer isn’t that simple.

“I don’t know” he told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “The game is slowing down for me. My teammates put me in position, my coach does … and I’m just knocking down shots.”

Because of his shot-making, Thomas has made it difficult for defenses to give him a steady diet of any style of play in trying to limit him.

And because they have to change things up with regularity, that has created more scoring opportunities.

“Sometimes they forget what they want to do (defensively) and leave me open for a three,” Thomas said. “Those are the the types of shots I need to knock down and I’m being aggressive.

He added, “I need to get to the free throw line, trying to make plays for my teammates. It’s one of those things where I’m in a really good zone now; a really good rhythm.”

A good rhythm?

According to NBA statistics guru Dick Lipe, Thomas is the first Celtic ever to make at least four 3-pointers in five straight games. Taking it a step further, he has made at least three 3-pointers in seven straight games which equaled Antoine Walker’s streak in 2001.

Thomas has also attempted 11 three-pointers in five straight games which is a franchise record. There have only been three longer streaks in NBA history - Golden State’s Stephen Curry (7 straight games, 2016); Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (7 straight games, 2005) and Dallas’ George McCloud (6 straight games, 2006).

He’s also averaging 3.1 made 3’s per game which would be a franchise record that’s currently held by Antoine Walker who averaged 2.7 during the 2001-2002 season.

And all those 3’s have added up to Thomas scoring at least 27 points in seven straight games, something that hasn’t been done by a Celtic since Larry Bird had eight such games in March 1988 as well as the 1987-1988 season.