BU's Clayton Keller has 11 goals and 14 assists during a 15-game point streak. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

Beanpot: Clayton Keller extends point streak to 15 games, helps lead BU past BC

February 07, 2017 - 12:57 am

Boston hockey fans may be familiar with Bruins prospects Charlie McAvoy, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Ryan Fitzgerald, but in Monday night's Beanpot semifinal between Boston University and Boston College, it was an Arizona Coyotes prospect who stole the spotlight. Clayton Keller, the seventh overall selection in the 2016 NHL draft, extended his point streak to 15 games in the Terriers' 3-1 win over BC, the third win of the year for BU over its archrival. He has 11 goals and 14 assists during the streak. Keller's streak ties current Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo for the most consecutive games with a point in BU history. Keller, who scored his fourth shorthanded goal of the season on Monday night, is also one man-down tally shy from tying Pandolfo's shortie record. Keller's scoring streak also passed Jack Eichel, who had points in 14 straight games in 2009. Any time a player is mentioned in the same breath as Eichel, especially one who plays on Comm Ave, it's worth noting. "It's pretty cool, but it's something I'm not worrying about," said Keller. "The most important thing for me and my team is just getting ready for the next game. It's pretty cool to do that, but not really paying attention to it." All in all, the freshman forward is leading BU on what might be a special run. "He's such a threat out there," BU head coach David Quinn said after the game. "He's got such great instincts and when you're on a power play and you have him coming at you, I think you get a little nervous." The BU center missed a stretch in the middle of the season with a knee injury after falling awkwardly into the boards against Northeastern and didn't return to the lineup until a December series at Vermont. With the injury in mind, there are only two games all season Keller has played in where he hasn't tallied a point; the third game of the season at Denver and a late October matchup against Quinnipiac. In games Keller has played this season, the Terriers are 14-4-1. Keller gained national attention in the World Junior Championships at the end of December, when he was a key factor in the United States' gold medal-winning run. He, along with five BU teammates, helped lead the Americans to a shootout win over Canada in the final. Since then, Keller and his WJC teammates have led BU on an 11-2 run. Keller's goal on Monday night to advance BU to the Beanpot final vs. Harvard was a momentum changer; BC had earned itself a power-play chance just minutes after cutting the Terrier lead to 2-1. With a chance to steal momentum, a McAvoy pass found Keller in space and he beat his US national teammate and Eagles goalie Joseph Woll. "Joe Woll is a guy that I've played with ever since I was about 10 years old," Keller said. "I know about his game a little bit." McAvoy's pass at center ice was a reminder of the chemistry between the USA teammates, and two NHL first-round draft picks from this past June. "Charlie made a great play and found me breaking on the breakaway," said Keller. "Clayton's really good on breakaways when he's pressured, but not as much when he has time," said Quinn. "I felt good because I knew he had a guy chasing him, he's been pretty good on breakaways when he has that." Since joining the Terriers, Keller has become a leader on the ice in more ways than just as a scorer. He won a puck battle along the blue line to end an Eagles power play chance and earn the Terriers a power play themselves. His 30 points lead the team in what is already a freshman-heavy roster, but he has gone even above and beyond the rest of his class. It's that kind of compete level that Quinn is looking for out of his team. "I don't know if I've ever coached a guy who has the hand-eye coordination that he has," said Quinn. "He's just so dangerous killing penalties, that was his fourth or fifth shorthanded of the year." Now Keller and his teammates have one more game against Harvard to win a Beanpot title, and it's his and the rest of the freshman class' first taste of the local tournament. "It's pretty special, especially playing Boston College, and the atmosphere, it's pretty close to the World Juniors," said Keller. "It was great to get the win and now we're focused on Friday and the next game on Monday." Keller has a chance to don the Garden ice once more this season following the Beanpot, if the Terriers were to advance to the Hockey East semifinals. After that? Don't be surprised to see him as a Bruins opponent in a Coyotes sweater.