BOSTON - Another Beanpot final for Boston College and Boston University, and now even BU coach Jack Parker is wondering how long the tournament can hold the college hockey world's interest when it is dominated by just two teams.
"The Beanpot is losing its lustre a little bit," Parker said after the Terriers withstood Northeastern's 6-on-4 onslaught for the final 88 seconds to preserve a 2-1 victory in the opening round.
"People are going to get tired of it. People ARE tired of it," he said. "People say, 'We want to see BU and BC in the Beanpot final.' You know who's saying that? BU and BC."
BC (14-8-2) advanced with a 6-0 victory over Harvard in the early semifinal on Monday night, but the defending NCAA and Beanpot champions had more of a struggle against Northeastern. Alex Chaisson of St. Augustin, Que., scored the go-ahead goal with 5:47 left, and the Huskies couldn't score after drawing a penalty with 1:28 to go and pulling their goalie to give them a two-man advantage on the ice.
Edmonton's Kieran Millan stopped 26 shots to help BU (10-11-3) reach the Beanpot final for the 25th time in 27 years. The Terriers have won 29 of the previous 57 tournaments, which pits the area's four college hockey powers against each other on the first two Mondays in February.
Harvard (5-12-3) has not won the Beanpot since 1993. Northeastern (11-12-1) has not won since '88.
"Those are real good hockey programs," Parker said. "They're going to get out of their little slumps soon."
But not quite yet.
They will meet in the consolation game next Monday, followed by the matchup of Green Line rivals and the last two NCAA champions.
"We're used to being there," Parker said.
The Terriers led 1-0 and had a chance to add to the lead when Alex Tuckerman drew a 5-minute penalty - along with a game misconduct - for hitting from behind. The Huskies were 27 seconds away from killing off that power play when BU's David Warsofsky cross-checked Wade McLeod in the neck and gave the Huskies a man advantage.
Just 21 seconds later, Colby Cohen was sent off for hitting from behind, giving Northeastern a 5-on-3. Seconds after one shot hit the post as the first penalty expired, Kyle Kraemer beat Millan on a wrist shot that tied it with seven seconds left in the 5-on-4.
That seemed to open the game up, and with 5:47 left Chiasson wrapped up a series of odd-man rushes by heading for the goal on a 2-on-1 and putting the puck between Chris Rawlings' legs; it slowly trickled just over the line to make it 2-1.
In the early game, Carl Sneep had a goal and two assists, and John Muse stopped 33 shots to help BC return to the final for the sixth time in eight years. Matt Price of Milton, Ont., also scored for BC.
One of the surprising exceptions was last year, when Northeastern beat the Eagles 6-1 in the first round, depriving them of what has come to be an almost annual matchup with BU in the title game.
"Last year's game was last year's game," Muse said. "I had plenty of confidence coming in."
That was BC's only Beanpot loss to someone other than BU since 1998; BU has not lost to anyone other than BC since '94. Before last year, the Eagles and Terriers had met 10 consecutive years, either in the opening draw or the final.
"I've been coming here since I was little. I'm playing here now," said BC's Brian Gibbons, a native of nearby Braintree. "It's a good time. I love it. I'm never going to quit going."
Gibbons, the MVP of the 2008 tournament, had a goal and an assist for the Eagles, and so did Pat Mullane and Ben Smith. Kyle Richter made 33 saves for Harvard before John Riley took over with 5:58 left and made four saves.
BC led just 1-0 after one period, but Matt Price scored 18 seconds into the second on a wrister from the right circle that beat Richter on the glove side. Mullane made it 3-0 with 12:17 left in the second.
"I don't think we gave ourselves a chance to win," Harvard coach Ted Donato said. "We were never able to get into what we were trying to do, and I think their speed and skill had a large role in that."