BOSTON — When freshman defenseman Nick Petrecki scored his first career goal to give Boston College a 3-2 lead in the second period of Monday’s Beanpot championship game, he likely felt it was the biggest goal of his career.
That was until he scored the overtime game winner.
Petrecki fired home the rebound of a Pat Gannon shot at 7:07 of overtime as the Eagles defeated Harvard, 6-5, ending one of the wildest shootouts in Beanpot history.
“It’s just being in the right place at the right time,” said Petrecki, a native of Clifton Park, N.Y., who still grew up going to the Beanpot, having a mother who hailed from the Boston area. “I took a swing at it and closed my eyes and luckily it went in.”
The play started with BC winger Pat Gannon cutting around a Crimson defender and towards the right post. Harvard goaltender Kyle Richter (27 saves) made the original save, but the puck bounced back out to the slot. After BC’s Matt Price fanned on the shot, Petrecki was wide-open on a pinch from the left point to fire a low, hard shot into the open net and send BC nation into pandemonium.
The goal spoiled a dramatic, late-game comeback by Harvard. The Crimson forced overtime with two late goals, the second from the stick of Mike Taylor, who finished the night with two goals and an assist.
BC rimmed a shot around back of its own net that Alex Biega intercepted at the blueline, and Biega fired a low wrister toward the net that Taylor deflected past BC goaltender John Muse (21 saves) to shock most of the 17,565 in attendance, including many on both sides who believed Harvard had little to no chance against an Eagles team that earlier in the season handed it a 7-2 shellacking.
“I told our guys that I thought there were certain plays and certain times in the game we could have executed better, but I’m extremely proud of the effort they gave. They never gave up,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato.
Harvard also was successful in keeping BC’s Nathan Gerbe off the scoresheet. After Gerbe lit up the Crimson for four goals and five points in the earlier meeting this season, you’d think that if they could hold the junior Hobey Baker hopeful at bay that a victory might be theirs.
That game plan, though, didn’t account for the fact that BC’s less-known players like Petrecki (first two career goals), tournament MVP Brian Gibbons (two goals, his eighth and ninth of the season), Andrew Orpik (fourth goal of the season) and Pat Gannon (fourth goal of the season) would emerge as heroes.
“[BC] has a lot of weapons; it’s difficult,” said Donato. “You have to pick your poison. Our guys were aware when Gerbe was on the ice, but they had other guys step up.”
“Some nights you’re not going to score,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “We can’t be successful with one or two guys having to score the goals for us. We got good contributions [tonight] and we need that down the stretch.”
The Eagles jumped out early in the first period, opening the scoring at the 3:51 mark. Gibbons fired a bad-angle shot from the goal line, catching Richter moving post to post. The puck banked off the goalie’s leg and just crossed the line for the 1-0 BC lead.
Harvard struggled to get going offensively in the game’s opening minutes, but took advantage of the early shots it did manage. Taylor scored on the Crimson’s first shot of the night at 7:27 and rookie Matt McCollem followed that with a goal on Harvard’s third shot of the game at 11:15 to take a 2-1 lead into intermission.
BC rallied in the second. Gibbons buried his second of the game at 1:21, peeling out of the right corner to wrist a hard shot over Richter’s glove. Petrecki then picked the ideal time to score his first collegiate goal, firing a shot under the crossbar on the rush at 9:06 .
The Crimson next looked to have scored the equalizer. A scrum in front of Muse at 12:30 ended with Doug Rogers poking the puck under the outstretch goalie’s arm. After video review, though, it was discovered that the referee’s whistle had blown before the puck crossed the goal line, sending the game to the third with BC leading, 3-2.
Rogers would get redemption early in the third, lighting the lamp on the power play to knot the game at 3. The shot was a one-timer that fluttered the entire way to the net before finally dropping just under the crossbar at 1:55.
The Eagles answered with two quick goals, though, and appeared to be in control. Gannon poked home a rebound of his own shot at the left post at 5:48 and Orpik’s identical stuff in at 10:24 seemed like it was time for celebration.
But Harvard responded quickly, thanks in part to some help from the linesman. As Jon Pelle rushed down the right wing, linesman Mark Messier, out of position at the middle of the blueline, picked and knocked down Petrecki. Pelle skated around him and rifled a shot high on Muse that gave the Crimson life with 8:46 remaining.
Taylor’s deflection with 4:24 remaining stunned the BC portion of the sellout crowd and forced overtime, the fourth title game in five years to go past regulation.
Harvard had the momentum heading to the extra session, but it was BC that rallied during the intermission, outshooting the Crimson, 7-0, in overtime before Petrecki finally ended things.
“Momentum swings quickly,” said BC captain Mike Brennan. “We got together in the locker room shoulder to shoulder and said we were going to go out and win the hockey game.”
The win gave BC its 14th Beanpot title, its third under York and the team’s first since 2004. Harvard, on the other hand, extends its drought to 15 years since having last won the championship in 1993.
Donato, though, feels that his team, entering the tournament as an underdog, took some major strides over the two Mondays.
“I hope we can look back and say this senior class at Harvard went a long way in the Beanpot,” said Donato. “I hope we’ll look back and say this might be the first step in doing great things in this tournament.”