BOSTON — When Boston University made it 5-2 early in the third period, almost everybody in Agganis Arena had to believe the game was over.
After all, Harvard was winless in its last six games and had struggled to score almost all season. The Crimson were playing on the road against the No. 8 team in the nation.
Perhaps the Crimson coaches and players were the only ones who still believed that they could pull off an improbable comeback. They did just that, scoring three goals in the third to tie the game before Tommy O’Regan sprung Connor Morrison in the final minute of overtime for a breakaway goal to complete a stunning 6-5 overtime win in front of 4,259 fans.
Luke Greiner led the way with a three-point night for the Crimson, while Matt Nieto matched his goal and two assists for the Terriers.
But the biggest winners of the night might have been the O’Regan family, as Harvard sophomore Tommy had a goal and two assists while BU freshman Danny notched two goals and an assist in their first collegiate game against each other.
“After the second, we just got all fired up in the locker room,” Tommy O’Regan said. “We just said, ‘We’re going to come out and win this game.’ We had a couple of big goals and I just guess we kept buzzing into overtime.”
“Any win’s a good win,” the elder O’Regan said about playing against his brother. “The win was definitely satisfying, but it was just really good to be out there with him and it was one of the best games I’ve played in since I’ve been at Harvard.”
“Obviously, we’re pretty excited to get the win,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “I thought our guys just stayed with it. Before the third period, we talked about it and said if we just tighten things up in front of our net and play better defensively that there were chances out there. The game was pretty much up and down with scoring chances. I’m happy for the guys – they’ve worked real hard and haven’t had a lot of pucks go in the net. It’s obviously a nice win and hopefully a springboard with some real positive energy for the team.”
Meanwhile, BU coach Jack Parker was appalled at his team’s play.
After the young Terriers team enjoyed an excellent first semester, they now have played two awful games and one mediocre one since Christmas, going 1-2 in that span.
“I thought the way we played in the third period was a disgrace,” Parker said. “I thought the way Harvard played in the third period was a feather in their cap. They played so hard and they kept coming after us. But we just made it easier for them with the way that we played.
“We acted like the game was over when we made it 5-2 and then we just went to sleep and couldn’t get it back. When they scored the third goal, their bench erupted and my team just died. I don’t think I had one guy who played well – five goals and not one guy played well. I don’t remember being this disappointed in a BU team in a long time. That’s three games in a row that we’ve played poorly.”
It certainly looked like it would be an easy BU win for much of the first two periods. Harvard goalie Raphael Girard allowed all sorts of juicy rebounds and the Terriers repeatedly won battles in front of the net to knock them in. Four of BU’s five goals were from a total of about 12 feet.
The first BU goal was an especially striking example. Ryan Ruikka shot from the point before Sam Kurker took two whacks at the rebound before Wesley Myron finally knocked in the third rebound. Then in the last minute of the period, Nieto shot from the right point and Danny O’Regan had half the net to shoot at on the rebound.
Wade Megan scored yet another goal on a rebound in the opening minute of the second period, easily tapping one in. But Tommy O’Regan’s 20-foot wrist shot made it 3-1 and then his pass set up a Brian Hart power-play slap shot to make it 3-2.
BU countered with an apparent backbreaker late in the period when Ahti Oksanen kept the puck in the Harvard zone before slipping it to Nieto for a long wrist shot and a goal.
Then Danny O’Regan nudged in yet another loose puck in the crease at 1:27 of the third period, which surprisingly marked the beginning of the end for the Terriers.
Five minutes later, Marshall Everson found himself all alone with BU goalie Matt O’Connor right off of an offensive-end draw for a goal and then Luke Grenier made a nice move through the slot before beating the BU goalie less than two minutes later to make it 5-4.
“When the game got tight, we got tighter,” Parker said.
Then O’Connor gave up an excruciating goal at 16:14 when Jimmy Vesey flipped a high, slow shot at him from outside of the blue line. O’Connor blocked it, but could not cover it, and Colin Blackwell pounced on it to put it in for the 5-5 tie.
“I think we think we’re better than we are,” Parker said. “We were playing on the offensive side of the puck all night.”
That was the case in overtime, when O’Connor had to make good saves on a few odd-man rushes before Morrison’s stick-side shot on a breakaway sealed it for a stirring victory for the Crimson.