CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When the Boston College Eagles and Harvard Crimson squared off on Wednesday night at Bright Hockey Center, the story line was goaltending. Much like the outcome, it was a happy story for the Eagles and a sad one for the Crimson
Behind a solid 25-save effort by BC netminder Parker Milner, the Eagles (9-3-2) defeated Harvard, 3-2, in a preview of the opening round of the 2010 Beanpot. It was BC’s fourth straight victory and extends their unbeaten streak to six (5-0-1), while Harvard is winless in its last 10 (0-8-2) and remains without a victory in six attempts at home entering the holiday break.
Milner, who moved to 4-0-0 on his rookie season, stonewalled the Crimson (1-8-2) early and again late, when the game hung in the balance.
“My thought process [late in the game] was three simple words: ‘win the game,’” said Milner. “All the games that I’ve played so far have come down to the last minutes. You just have to go out and win the game and not worry about what has happened.”
Milner did exactly that, stopping 13 of 14 Crimson shots in the third, despite allowing a goal with 11:59 remaining that pulled Harvard within a goal.
“Parker was outstanding in goal for us tonight,” said BC coach Jerry York. “Harvard took control of the game [in the third]. They stormed us.”
As great as the goaltending was for the Eagles, it was equally as bad for Harvard starter Kyle Richter. Richter was pulled at the 2:56 mark of the second period after allowing three goals on his first nine shots faced. That put the Crimson in a hole that turned out to be insurmountable.
Harvard coach Ted Donato, when asked if he simply didn’t like the way Richter was playing when he pulled, answered directly, “Yes.”
He expounded to say that “The first three goals, none of them were [Richter's] fault.” He added that all six guys on the ice could’ve done some things differently, but it was clear that his displeasure was with his top goaltender.
Once Richter was lifted, backup Ryan Carroll put forth a yeoman’s effort, stopping all 17 shots he faced before being lifted for an extra attacker with 55 seconds remaining. That effort, though, was for naught, given the deficit.
The Eagles got on the scoreboard at 8:39 of the first when Cam Atkinson, just minutes after ringing a shot squarely off the right post, buried a shot high on Richter’s glove side.
Less than three minutes later, BC extended the lead when Paul Carey fired a Ben Smith pass from the slot at 10:55 for a 2-0 lead.
Harvard answered, though. With BC’s Chris Kreider in the box for holding, Michael Biega feathered a shot from the point that Daniel Moriarty, who camped out in the goal crease during power plays the entire game, deflected over Milner’s shoulder to draw the Crimson within a goal at 14:34.
Harvard held a 10-7 advantage in shots in the opening 20, but the difference in goaltending gave the Eagles the 2-1 advantage.
BC regained its two-goal lead at 2:56 of the second. As a penalty to Harvard’s Alex Killorn was expiring, Steven Whitney skated through the slot on the rush and grabbed space and fired a shot that beat Richter cleanly only to ring off the left post. Jimmy Hayes, though, continued to drive the net and took two swipes at the puck, the second one beating the junior netminder for a 3-1 BC lead.
That spelled the end of the night for Richter, who finished the game with just six saves in 22:56.
When Carroll was forced into action, he immediately was tested. He stood tall, stopping six BC shots over the final 17:04 of the frame, including a breakaway by Brian Gibbons with 4:17 remaining.
It appeared the game might be clear sailing for the Eagles in the third, until BC’s Patrick Wey fanned on a clearing pass in front of Milner and Biega was Johnny on the spot, picking up and then patiently holding the puck to find room underneath the rookie goalie at 8:01.
From there, though, Milner’s “win the game” mentality was at its best, and the rookie earned his fourth straight win to begin his career.
For Harvard, the team heads to break on a sour note, having not won since its season opener at Dartmouth on October 30. Donato, though, isn’t completely down on his team, feeling they turned in a solid effort on Wednesday night against a good hockey team.
“I expect that we’ll continue to improve and we’ll find ourselves on the right side of some of these games,” said Donato. “There’s a lot of reasons to think that that will be the case.”
BC still has one game left before its break and will face Providence on the road on Saturday night. A win in that game would give the Eagles 10 wins prior to the break for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign.
“We’re playing better as a club,” said York about his team that began the year 3-3-2 before exploding for six in a row. “We’re getting great efforts from a number of different people.”