2006 Beanpot Tournament preview

By DJ Powers

One of college hockey’s most storied tournaments gets underway on Monday, February 6th as the 54th annual Beanpot Tournament drops the puck at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. The battle for Boston bragging rights promises to be as fierce as ever. Boston College will face off against Northeastern in the early game, while defending Beanpot Champion Boston University will face off against Harvard in the late game.

This year’s Beanpot will feature 29 NHL prospects representing 18 NHL teams. Boston College and Boston University lead the way with ten prospects apiece, followed by Harvard with five and Northeastern with four. The San Jose Sharks are the most well represented NHL team in the tournament with five prospects, followed by the Buffalo Sabres with three. The Sharks are also the only NHL team with at least one prospect on all four rosters.

In addition to the drafted players, the tournament features three players appearing on the NHL Central Scouting Service’s mid-term rankings, which was released last month. The players are (in order of ranking) Boston College freshman forward Benn Ferriero, Harvard freshman defenseman Jack Christian and Boston University freshman forward Jason Lawrence.

Below is a closer look at what each team brings into this year’s tournament. Unless otherwise noted, all statistics listed are current as of February 5th.

Boston College

The #3 Eagles will be looking to add their 14th Beanpot Championship title and the first since 2004 in this year’s tournament. Boston College is coming off of a 2-3 loss to UMass on Friday night. While the loss may have slowed the Eagles a bit, it isn’t something that they cannot overcome. Boston College has been one of the hottest teams in the nation since early December. The team has gone 10-2-1 in their last 13 games and has not lost consecutive games this year.

The biggest reason behind the Eagles success this season is the stellar play of sophomore goaltender Cory Schneider (VAN). Despite missing time due to the World Junior Championships, Schneider hasn’t missed a step. He currently sports a 15-6-1 record that includes a school-record tying five shutouts. His .928 save percentage currently ranks ninth in the nation while his 2.00 goals against average ranks tenth. His .705 winning percentage also ranks ninth in the nation.

In mid-January, Schneider came within about 11 minutes of breaking Scott Clemmenson’s school record for most shutout minutes. Schneider posted three consecutive shutouts and had his shutout streak ended in the second period of the Eagles 3-4 loss to Boston University on January 27th.

Boston College has relied heavily on their top line of seniors Chris Collins and Stephen Gionta and junior Brian Boyle (LA). The trio has accumulated a combined 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in the Eagles last five games.

Of the three players, Boyle has been the hottest goal scorer. Eight of his 12 goals have come during the recent five-game stretch, including a four-goal outburst versus UMass-Lowell back on January 28th.

Collins, an early candidate for the Hobey Baker award, leads Boston College in scoring with 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists). Where Collins has been particularly dangerous has been on special teams. Ten of his 21 goals have come either on the power play or shorthanded.

As great as Collins’ success has been on special teams, they are areas that Boston College will be looking to improve, particularly their 35th ranked power play that has a lowly 16.5 percent efficiency rating.

While Boston College has an offense that is averaging nearly three and a half goals per game, about 40 percent of it is coming from their top line. To help balance out their scoring, one of the forward lines that the Eagles will be looking to is their “energy” line of sophomore Dan Bertram (CHI), and freshmen Nathan Gerbe (BUF) and Brock Bradford (BOS). The dynamic, young trio has a combined 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists).

The Eagles also possess a very young but talented blue line that includes just one upperclassman in team captain Peter Harrold. The senior leads the team’s defensemen in scoring with 16 points (four goals, 12 assists).

Boston University

The Terriers of Boston University have won the Beanpot Tournament more than any other team. They will look to add their 27th title and second in a row.

The #6/#10 Terriers will bring their nation-leading eight-game winning streak into the tournament. After a streaky start to their 2005-06 campaign, BU has been on fire since the start of the 2006 calendar year, losing only once.

No player has had a bigger impact on the team and in its turnaround than the return of senior captain David Van der Gulik (CGY). After missing the first 15 games of the season with a pubic bone disorder, Van der Gulik returned to the Terriers lineup on December 30th. His leadership and stabilizing presence has helped steer Boston University in the right direction in their quest for Hockey East supremacy.

A big part of the Terriers’ recent success has been their increased offensive production. The team has averaged nearly four goals per game and has outscored their opponents by a margin of 35-19 since the start of 2006.

Two players of note who have increased their scoring output are junior Ken Roche (NYR) and sophomore Peter MacArthur. Both players have points in six of BU’s last eight games. During that stretch they have each racked up 11 points (six goals, five assists). In the Terriers 5-3 win over Merrimack back on January 20th, the two players combined to score seven points (four goals, three assists).

Another area that has been a key to success of Boston University has been the superb goaltending of junior John Curry. Curry has been impressive in the month of January, going a perfect 7-0-0 with a1.58 goals against average and an astounding .958 save percentage.

A player who has been relatively consistent throughout the season for the Terriers has been freshman sensation Brandon Yip (COL). The speedy winger is currently third on the team in scoring with 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists). He has points in 16 of the 24 games he has played in thus far.

As good as Boston University has been of late, one pressing area that needs to be addressed is their disappointing power play. The Terriers are currently ranked 45th in the nation, with an efficiency rating of 15 percent.

One player that will help the BU power play is the possible return of senior John Laliberte (VAN), who has been out of the Terriers lineup with a knee injury. He is listed as day to day and could return for the Beanpot.

Harvard University

The #20 Harvard Crimson will be seeking their 11th Beanpot title and first since 1993. The Crimson are coming off a 2-1 overtime win over Ivy League rival Brown on Friday night.

Harvard has done very well against ranked opponents this season, having already posted wins over Colgate, Boston College, St. Lawrence and North Dakota. The Crimson have also not lost consecutive games this season.

Harvard brings one of the nation’s best defenses into the Beanpot Tournament as well. In their last seven games, the Crimson have posted a 3-3-1 record. In that stretch they have allowed three or more goals twice and all of their losses were by one goal.

Two reasons behind the success of Harvard’s outstanding defense have been very solid goaltending from towering senior John Daigneau and a strong blue line corps with size.

Daigneau currently sports an 11-6-2 record that includes three shutouts. He has a .922 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average. One of his most memorable performances came back on November 15th when he went the distance to post a 36-save performance in Harvard’s 5-3 win over Boston College.

Seniors Peter Hafner (FLA) and Tom Walsh (SJ), along with junior Dylan Reese (NYR) lead a formidable defensive corps who have not only been effective in slowing down opposing teams but limiting their shot totals as well. In the 22 games that Harvard has played this season, they have allowed the opposition 30 or more shots on goal just eight times.

One of Harvard’s strengths this season has been in their penalty killing. The Crimson currently rank ninth in the nation in that category with an efficiency rating of just under 86 percent. Earlier in the season, Harvard was successfully in killing off 21 straight penalties. In their most recent outing versus Brown, they were a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.

While defense has been the Crimson’s strength, lack of offense continues to be a concern. Senior Dan Murphy is the lone player on the team’s roster to tally ten or more goals this season. He currently ranks fourth on the team in scoring with 14 points (11 goals, three assists). Junior Kevin Du leads all Harvard players in scoring with 20 points (three goals, 17 assists).

Junior Ryan Maki (NSH), Harvard’s lone NHL forward prospect, has made great strides in his game this season. Nowhere has that been more noticeable than on the defensive side. His use of his large frame has been more effective. However, like many of his Crimson forward teammates, Maki is another player that Harvard will be looking to step up in offensive production the rest of the way. He is tied for sixth on the team in scoring with ten points (five goals, five assists).

Northeastern University

The Huskies will be looking to claim their fifth title and first since 1988 in this year’s tournament.

No Hockey East team has experienced growing pains more than Northeastern this season. The Huskies have just one win this season, which came back on November 22nd versus UMass. However, the team is coming off a 2-2 tie with Merrimack last Friday.

The most glaring problem for Northeastern this season has been a lack of offense. The Huskies are dead last in the nation in points per game, averaging just 1.84. Their 46 total goals are tied for last in the nation as well. Since mid-December, Northeastern has scored three or more goals only twice and have been outscored 16-40.

The problem is made worst by the fact that the team is without the services of top-scoring junior Mike Morris (SJ), who is out for the season as a result of lingering effects of post-concussion syndrome.

Not all of the news on the Huskies offense has been all bad. The bulk of the team’s goal scoring this season have come from freshmen. Four of Northeastern’s top five goal scorers are freshmen, including Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Joe Vitale. Vitale has been one of the few bright spots. He currently ranks fourth on the team in scoring with 11 points (five goals, six assists).

One area where the Huskies look very solid is in goal. Freshman Doug Jewer, along with junior Adam Geragosian, has given Northeastern some stability between the pipes. Despite having yet to post his first win, Jewer has been stellar in his last seven outings. During that span, he has posted a .918 save percentage and a 2.58 goals against average. After missing three games due to injury in mid-January, Jewer came back to post a 24-save performance versus Merrimack to earn a 2-2 tie for the Huskies on Friday.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.