BOSTON — Playing in front of a crowd that redefined the word “sparse,” the Harvard Crimson and Northeastern Huskies waged what has become their annual battle in the consolation game of the Beanpot.
Monday’s contest marked the fourth time in five years that the teams have met at 5 p.m. on the second Monday of February; this time the Huskies (7-13-5) won 3-1 on the strength of three final-period tallies, despite being outshot by Harvard (9-11-2) 20-7 in the third.
It was a game whose first 30 minutes were played largely between the blue lines, as both squads struggled to mount sustained offensive pressure. In the last 10 minutes of the middle frame, both squads had quality scoring chances and the Huskies exerted pressure on Harvard netminder Dov Grumet-Morris, firing 13 shots his way.
“I thought … Northeastern was much more tenacious in the second period on the puck,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said.
Mazzoleni’s counterpart, Northeastern coach Bruce Crowder, saw it the same way, saying that he felt his team was “maybe a little bit dominant” in the second period.
But that dominance did not translate into an advantage on the stat sheet until 56 seconds into the third; the Huskies made a mark on the scoreboard when Jason Guerriero found the back of the net from between the faceoff circles.
From that point the Crimson started to control the game, sending more and more shots towards Northeastern netminder Keni Gibson until it converted on a power play at 6:51 to even the score.
Set up in the Huskies’ end, Harvard’s Brendan Bernakevitch passed the puck cross-ice to Noah Welch, who was skating hard at the net from Gibson’s left side but couldn’t control the puck until he was parallel to the net. He started to skate around the net but, after drawing the defense’s eyes, made a nifty backhand pass to Tom Cavanagh, who batted home the game-tying goal and gave the Crimson a much-needed lift.
“I felt that we had some life back when we scored [in the third]“, Mazzoleni said.
But that life — and the 1-1 score — lasted all of five minutes, until the Huskies buried a two-on-one chance in the back of the net. With Welch back trying to cut off the man with the puck, Northeastern’s Brian Deeth passed to Mike Morris, and Morris swiftly beat Grumet-Morris high on his glove side.
The 2-1 lead prompted Harvard to pull Grumet-Morris at 17:59 when both teams had a man in the box. But the Crimson’s efforts skating a man-up came to naught, and Ray Ortiz iced the win for Northeastern with 13 seconds left.
“I thought it was a real nice character win for our guys,” Crowder said. “I think they came to play and they played hard.”
Northeastern will have to continue to play hard as it hosts No. 3 Maine at Matthews Arena this weekend. Harvard will look to rebound from its loss with a home series against ECAC rivals Rensselaer and Union.