BOSTON -- It's hard to think of Boston University breaking a Beanpot drought.
The Terriers have won nearly half the tournaments ever played and made it an even 30 titles on Monday night, but it was never easy.
Junior captain and Charlestown, Mass. native Matt Grzelcyk scored BU's final two goals of the game, including the winner 51 seconds into overtime, lifting the Terriers to a 4-3 win over Northeastern at TD Garden in the 63rd annual tournament's championship.
After freshman Jack Eichel won a battle along the boards, he found senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues who saw Grzelcyk waiting for the point shot that eventually lifted the Terriers to their first 'Pot title since 2009.
"His two goals tonight were a result of an awful lot of hard work," BU head coach David Quinn said of Grzelcyk, the tournament's Most Valuable Player. "You don't win championships by accident, but we won a championship tonight and we're very fortunate."
The teams traded goals early in the first period and sent the Garden into a frenzy. Northeastern had the overall control with a 15-11 shots on goal advantage, although BU turned up the jets in the waning minutes.
BU jumped ahead first at the 2:19 mark as junior Mike Moran forced a turnover at the opposite blue line and skated in ahead of the Northeastern defense, beating senior goaltender Clay Witt blocker side.
Just 28 seconds later, Huskies sophomore John Stevens scored his third-career Beanpot goal to knot the score going into the first intermission. Stevens took a pass from freshman defenseman Garret Cockerill, created space in the left circle and fired past BU junior Matt O'Connor.
Witt made himself a national trending topic on Twitter in the final minute of the period as he made an outstanding save on senior Evan Rodrigues after he took a backhand feed from freshman Jack Eichel in transition. The Huskies' senior came out to challenge the shot and made a flashy glove save that sent him tumbling.
"It was kind of a flat first period for us," Quinn said, "but give credit to Northeastern. I thought they came out with a little extra juice, a little extra step. I thought coming out of it 1-1, we were fortunate."
The Terriers staked their claim to a two-goal lead in the second period thanks to goals by sophomore Robbie Baillargeon and Grzelcyk coupled with Northeastern's inability to cash in on its power-play opportunities.
Baillargeon lit the lamp for the first time since BU's opening game 5:31 into the second period. Senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann put the initial shot on net and the Ottawa Senators prospect cashed in on the juicy rebound Witt left at the side of the crease.
Witt had no chance of stopping Grzelcyk's slapper from the point at 14:18. Freshman Nikolas Olsson set up Grzelcyk for his second goal in as many games and fourth in three games.
The Huskies sprung to life with two goals in less than two minutes in the middle stages of the third period to send the game to overtime. Witt continued his stellar night with the first point of his collegiate career, sending a head feed to junior Kevin Roy who danced through two defenders and rifled a shot past O'Connor's blocker side at 9:18.
After entering the Beanpot with one career goal, junior Dustin Darou has made himself feel quite at home at TD Garden as he scored his second of the tournament to knot the score at 3-3 at the 10:53 mark. BU had a handful of opportunities to clear the puck from O'Connor's crease, but Darou stayed with the play and banged the ultimate rebound from a net-mouth scramble home.
"It's very helpful (to play on a big stage entering the stretch run) and we've been in a lot of close, tight games this year," NU head coach Jim Madigan said. "If we want to continue advancing and get back to this location, we're going to have to play teams like BU and find a way to win. Between the second and third periods, our kids had believability and conviction they were going to get it done."
The pair of Husky goals did not damper BU as it was lifted to a power play on a hooking call to NU sophomore defenseman Matt Benning just nine seconds into overtime.
The Terriers went to work on the man-up situation and a lot of hard work led to Grzelcyk's slapper to win the game. Eichel's secondary assist, his only point of the Beanpot, could not have come at a more important time and also marks the 50th point of his freshman season.
"A lot of people when you think about power plays, you think about an overload, an umbrella or what system you're going to use within your power play," Quinn said. "But at the end of the day ... you have to win battles, you have to shoot pucks quickly."
The Beanpot is a major part of the childhood dreams of Bostonians and that is no different for Grzelcyk who hopes to one day don a Bruins sweater. He knew it all the way, but he was elated the Terriers seized the moment.
"It's obviously a childhood dream living so close to the Garden and my dad working here (on the bull gang)," Grzelcyk said. "We were really confident, just wanted to make sure we had fun because you never know if you're going to come back here. We really wanted to make the most of it and I'm glad we did."
As if this instant classic wasn't enough, the Terriers and Huskies will conclude the Hockey East regular season with a home-and-home series this weekend. The second of the team's three head-to-head meetings in six days is Friday night at Agganis Arena.