When you see the name “ROY” on the back of a Northeastern hockey jersey this season, you might think it stands for Rookie of the Year.
Freshman Kevin Roy — playing in his first Beanpot game — scored all three goals as the Huskies snapped a 15-game Beanpot losing streak against No. 13 Boston University, stunning the Terriers with a 3-2 win at the TD Garden on Monday. Roy leads all freshmen nationwide with 30 points in 24 games.
No current Huskies player had been born when Northeastern last beat BU in a Beanpot game on Feb. 8, 1988. Not so coincidentally, that was the last year the Huskies hoisted the trophy.
“We’re obviously pleased with the outcome and the way we played tonight,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. “It was a big game for us. … I’ve been part of this tournament a long time, and I’ve heard all of the facts and figures about the last time we beat BU, but facts and figures don’t win hockey games.”
Madigan also tapped Northeastern hockey legend Wayne Turner — the hero of the Huskies’ first Beanpot championship back in 1980 — to speak to his team on Saturday to get them ready.
“He talked about mind-set,” Madigan said. “He said that we’re not getting faster or smarter in the next two days. It’s about mind-set. That’s what that 1980 team had.”
Meanwhile, this is the first time that a BU senior class has failed to win at least one Beanpot since 1965 — the year before BU coach Jack Parker played in his first Beanpot.
“I thought we played pretty well at times during the course of the game tonight,” Parker said. “We just demoralized ourselves on the power play: We were 0-for-6 and only got four shots. … That was the difference in the game, I thought.
“It was a disappointing loss. We’re in a bad frame of mind, a bad stage of the season,” said Parker, whose team is 1-4-1 in its last six games after going 10-5 to start the season.
“I feel bad for my teammates, my classmates, and the school in general,” BU captain Wade Megan said, struggling to control his emotions after the loss. “But we have a lot of season left. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We just need to turn the page.”
Northeastern took the lead at 2:09 of the first period. Ex-Terriers forward Vinny Saponari led Roy with a pass, and Roy held off a BU defender long enough to get a shot through BU goalie Matt O’Connor from close range.
BU got the equalizer at 5:53 on a textbook rush up the ice. Megan passed to Evan Rodrigues on the left wing before the sophomore crossed the puck to freshman Danny O’Regan crashing the far post for the quick shot and score.
The Terriers (13-11-1) appeared to have the better of the play for the rest of the period, skating with some zip and getting a few nominal chances. Most notable was Sahir Gill’s redirection of a Ahti Oksanen shot at 12:04, as the puck glanced off the outside of the post.
Although shots were 9-9 in the second period, Northeastern (8-13-3) clearly had more pep and chances for much of the frame. Garrett Vermeersch and Saponari both had close-range chances in a 10-second span starting at 5:30.
O’Connor stopped those but had no chance at 12:36 when Northeastern took the lead on a bad blunder by BU senior Ben Rosen. Northeastern harmlessly dumped the puck into the corner, and O’Connor went out to fetch it before putting a clean pass on Rosen’s stick in the right-wing faceoff circle.
Rosen inexplicably fired a pass toward his own crease, perhaps thinking teammate Alexx Privitera was rushing out from behind the net. Instead, Roy intercepted it and buried the puck with the BU goalie a good 15 feet from the crease.
BU looked deflated for much of the rest of the period. Even when the Terriers picked up a five-on-three advantage for almost two full minutes late in the period, they got only one solid shot on net and never really threatened to score.
So it went down to the third period with the Huskies hanging on to a 2-1 lead. At 2:40, Adam Reid had a good backhand bid for Northeastern, and BU defenseman Garrett Noonan countered with a rebound bid that went over the net from close range at 4:50.
The teams played cautiously for the next several minutes. BU finally started mounting pressure with eight or nine minutes left, with Megan getting a few chances. But with 4:38 remaining, Northeastern got the huge insurance goal.
Vermeersch took a shot from the right point, and Noonan fanned when trying to clear the rebound. Roy buried it for the hat trick.
“I think when the pressure is higher, I get the better performance,” Roy said.
“He’s a highly skilled player; he’s opportunistic,” Madigan said. “The bigger the stage, the more he rises to the occasion.”
With 1:46 to play and an offensive-end draw, BU pulled O’Connor for the extra skater and a last-ditch chance to push for a couple of goals.
They made it 3-2 with 1:11 left when, from behind the net, Matt Grzelcyk set up Gill on a bang-bang play.
That added some drama to the final minute, but a BU high stick near the Huskies net brought the faceoff all the way back with 14.1 seconds left. That was too much to overcome, and the Huskies won it.
“It’s not about wins and losses; it’s about who wants it more on Monday night,” said Northeastern goaltender Chris Rawlings, who made 32 saves.
Asked to reflect on BU’s first senior class Beanpot drought in decades, Parker said: “I really haven’t given much thought to it, to tell you the truth. … I haven’t had this experience before, either.”
Parker went on to say that he figures that some overtime losses in recent years were almost a coin toss that went the wrong way, but not this year. “We weren’t unfortunate tonight,” he said. “Northeastern was the better team.”