CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Three days after shutting out Vermont, the Boston College Eagles had the tables turned on them by Kyle Richter and the Harvard Crimson.
The freshman goaltender made 36 saves in his second-ever collegiate start, earning his first shutout in the 4-0 victory.
“The team made it easy for me,” said the 6-foot-1 Calgary native.
Indeed, while the Crimson were outshot 36-28, they kept the Eagles predominantly around the perimeter of the zone, and dominated in every other aspect of the game.
“We have to look at ourselves,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “We’re not a very good team right now; we have to admit that to ourselves. It’s not Notre Dame or Providence or Harvard, it’s us,” he said, in reference to his team’s three early-season losses.
“With all due respect to Harvard — and they’re a very good team — we’ve got a long way to go to be a good team. We’re just not functioning as a unit right now.”
On the other bench, Ted Donato was relieved to get his team a win before heading out west to play Cornell.
“Lynah has always been kind of a witches cauldron,” said the coach bemusedly.
“The guys are excited,” he said. “I think our guys were a little frustrated and looking for opportunities to get things moving in the right direction.”
The Crimson did so early, pouncing on the sluggish Eagles with a quick five-on-three power play four minutes into the game.
The visiting Birds had a brief adjustment period to the ECACHL style of play and officiating, but managed to kill the two-man disadvantage. Junior goaltender Cory Schneider stopped successive shots by Jon Pelle and Doug Rogers about eight minutes into the contest, as each player had clear looks toward the net from low on the right-wing circle.
Two minutes later, Richter saw action in close, smothering the puck through a scrum in his crease with a second left on Crimson Ryan Maki’s interference penalty. It was one of only a handful of instances where the play was so close to Richter.
Schneider was both good and lucky at the 12 minute mark of the first, as Harvard’s Mike Taylor whistled a wraparound feed from Kevin Du into a prostrate Schneider’s stomach.
But the luck ran out a minute and a half later, as BC freshman defender Carl Sneep failed to put adequate power into rimming a shot behind his own net. Harvard intercepted the puck off the boards to Schneider’s right, and Du fired a shot into the goalie. Maki swatted the rebound out of mid-air and between Schneider’s pads for the 1-0 lead.
Not even two minutes later, Eagles Pat Gannon and Brett Motherwell were sent off within a minute of each other. The ensuing five-on-three — the second of three on the evening for Harvard — was converted by Du, as he roofed a loose puck over Schneider’s blocker after a rebound-fest in the crease.
BC couldn’t convert on another power-play chance later on in the first, an issue that plagued the guests all night.
Richter made a superb left-to-right cross-crease kick save only a minute into the second frame, easily his best stop of the night, and adjusted well to a deflected Tim Kunes shot two minutes later. Boston College was very deliberate in controlling the puck early on in the middle frame, but couldn’t penetrate Harvard’s defense with any kind of consistency.
The Eagles had the briefest of five-on-three opportunities, seven seconds, at 18:29 of the period, but failed to score on either end of the two-man advantage. BC had two five-on-threes of their own Tuesday night, but were left with more questions than answers.
Harvard went back on the power play about five minutes into the third, and back on the five-on-three 5:30 in. The two-man boost lasted a full 1:13, and the Crimson did effectively score as a result, though technically the two-man advantage expired two seconds before Alex Meintel hammered home a loose puck at 6:45.
The game was delayed nearly 10 minutes as referee Frank Murphy and company sorted out penalties resulting from a dogpile on top of Schneider halfway through the third period, in the end resulting in four-on-four hockey. BC’s Benn Ferriero was assessed a double-minor for roughing, and Harvard’s Jimmy Fraser and Maki received goaltender interference and roughing penalties, respectively.
York was unsure after the game if his team should’ve been awarded a four-on-three power play as a result.
“It’s somewhere back there in the [rule]book,” he said of the correct call.
BC got just that a minute later when Chad Morin was sent to the box for roughing, and Steve Mandes followed his Crimson teammate into the box exactly a minute after that. Thus the four-on-four became a one-minute four-on-three, then a one-minute five-on-three before finishing off with a final minute of five-on-four, all in Boston College’s favor.
However, in fitting form for the game, the Eagles failed to register a single shot on goal through the entire three-minute advantage. The team finished 0-8 on the power play; Harvard, 2-8. Each team finished with 11 penalties for 22 minutes.
Harvard’s final goal came at 17:57 of the tilt, as highly-touted freshman Alex Biega found the twine for his first collegiate goal.
Richter registered Harvard’s first freshman shutout since Dov Grumet-Morris did it back in February of 2002.
The victory also kept the Crimson from matching its worst start in 66 years (0-4-0). The program has never started with five consecutive losses.
The Crimson are back on the road this weekend, playing big-time games at Cornell and Colgate before returning home in a week and a half.
Boston College only plays one game next weekend, at Merrimack, but doesn’t play at home again until November 22 against New Hampshire.