CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — A month and a half from now, had No. 2 Boston College accomplished over the past weeks what it just did, it would have the Eagles faithful dancing on Commonwealth Avenue. Right now, though, it’s ho-hum business as usual.
With a 3-2 victory Wednesday night over Harvard, the Eagles completed the Beanpot sweep, beating all three Beanpot schools — Northeastern, Boston University and the Crimson — in three straight games.
“I didn’t even realize it,” said Tony Voce of the Beanpot trifecta. It’s understandable, though, as the in-season games against the Beanpot rivals came in November, and if it weren’t for a postponement of last Saturday night’s BC-Providence game, the Eagles wouldn’t have played the Boston trio consecutively.
“It does feel good, but when Beanpot time comes it’s basically a whole new series,” said captain Ben Eaves. “We’re now more familiar with all the teams and knew we can [beat them] so that’s more incentive to get the job done this year.”
Regardless, though, the Eagles finished the triple play using three goals from the reunited top line of brothers Ben and Patrick Eaves and Voce to rally twice from deficits to eke out victory. It was the second straight game that this line played together after Pat Eaves missed four games with a knee injury. And coincidentally, it was the second game in a row that this trio accounted for all of BC’s offense, after scoring all five goals in a 5-2 win over BU last Friday.
“It’s such a great jump to get Patrick back,” said Ben of his younger brother. “He adds a whole other element to the line and we’ve started clicking and gotten confidence the last couple of games.”
The line certainly has turned on the offensive jets. Besides the three goals and three assists Patrick Eaves has scored since his return, brother Ben now has 11 assists in the last five games, while Voce has nine goals in his last five contests.
“They all anticipate so well,” said York of his top line. “It’s something we don’t teach. You’ve got to have that. It’s an innate ability.”
On Wednesday night, that ability, along with BC’s ability to shut down the Crimson offense, led to the victory.
Keeping their record intact, the Eagles continued to outshoot every opponent on the year, getting 38 shots to Harvard’s 18.
“We didn’t have the ability to consistently attack,” said Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni, whose club dropped its third game in the last four to fall to 5-5-1 on the season. “It’s been a challenge for us this year to generate shots. We’re not going to win a lot of hockey games when you’re putting 20 shots on the net.”
The opening period featured what seemed like rusty, midweek hockey for both clubs with a lack of picture-perfect passing and smooth skating. Still, each team lit the lamp twice to give the 4,862 in attendance plenty of action.
The Crimson opened the scoring 1:24 in capitalizing on a mistake at BC’s offensive blueline. John Adams coughed up the puck, sending Harvard’s Brendan Bernakevitch and Charlie Johnson two-on-one with BC’s Greg Lauze. When Lauze lost his footing as Harvard entered the zone, Bernakevitch fed a two-on-none pass over to Johnson, who one-timed it past BC netminder Matti Kaltiainen (16 saves) for the early lead.
BC evened the score on the power play. Patrick Eaves caught Harvard goalie Dov Grumet-Morris (35 saves) off guard firing a quick shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle to knot the game at one. It was Eaves’ third goal since returning.
Harvard, though, retook the lead 23 seconds later with a power-play marker of its own. With Stephen Gionta off for tripping, the Crimson swiftly moved the puck, allowing Bernakevitch to get off a wrister that beat Kaltiainen as he moved left to right.
Late in the period, though, BC again answered on the man advantage. Voce blasted a one-timer from 20 feet that Grumet-Morris had no chance to stop.
A nondescript second period saw BC outshoot Harvard, 14-5, and control the play late, but the Eagles couldn’t slip anything past Grumet-Morris, who was particularly sharp in stonewalling Gionta midway through the period.
In the third, it was all Boston College, but the Eagles couldn’t pull away. Voce netted the eventual game winner at 6:01, running an almost identical play to his first score. As the Eagles cycled the puck, Voce worked his way to the slot to one-time a blast off a Ben Eaves setup.
“We work all week on just cycling the puck in the corners and getting it to the guy in the slot,” said Voce. “We have the talent on the line, so someone has to get open and someone has to get the puck and we’ll find each other at some point.”
Trailing for the first time, Harvard attempted to turn up the heat by taking defensive chances. That nearly paid off for the Crimson when defenseman Tom Walsh’s wrister from the left point beat Kaltiainen through the legs — but trickled just wide of the right post with 3:20 to play.
A bid from Tom Cavanagh did the same in the closing minutes, and with that BC sealed the victory.
Improving to 11-2-3, this edition of Boston College reaches the holiday break with the fewest losses since the 1986-87 team (14-2-0). The 2000-01 national championship team entered the holidays with a 12-3-1 record.
“We’re going to break now and have exams coming, so this is a real boost for us going into the holiday,” said York. “This was a big game for us.”
Harvard still has two games to play before the holiday, hosting Massachusetts this Saturday and traveling to Princeton next Tuesday.