BOSTON — Many around the TD Garden on Monday night were buzzing about the thought that 60 years of Beanpot history could finally be rewritten.
And then Boston College went and ruined it all.
After Northeastern’s 3-2 upset of Boston University in the opening game, many wondered if for the first time in the 61-year history of the event that the Huskies could face Harvard in the championship game next Monday.
But a two-goal performance by BC sophomore Quinn Smith and a 19-save effort by Eagles netminder Parker Milner led the Eagles to a 4-1 victory in Monday’s semifinal. The victory gave BC the opportunity to capture its 18th Beanpot and fourth straight and set up a rematch of the 2011 Beanpot final between the Eagles and Huskies.
That game was a 7-6 overtime thriller in favor of the Eagles. Northeastern is looking for its first Beanpot since 1988.
“It’s a great rivalry over the years,” BC coach Jerry York of Northeastern. “They’ve beaten BU twice and beat us once early in the season so it makes us take notice.”
Smith joined a long line of role players who have found success under the bright lights of the Beanpot. His two goals on Monday night doubled his season total and broke open what otherwise was a close game thanks mostly to a stellar performance by Harvard netminder Raphael Girard (42 saves).
“Part of [Smith's] role is to bring energy to this team,” said BC captain Steven Whitney, whose insurance tally with 5:02 remaining put the game away. “He does it every night and when he scored two goals tonight it brought even more energy to the team.”
Harvard (5-15-1) was not without its chances on the evening, particularly in the early going. Luke Greiner hit the post at 14:30 of the first with the game still scoreless. And early in the second, Alex Fallstrom was stoned by Milner on a breakaway.
And though the Crimson played the Eagles (16-7-2) tight, they struggled to close out periods, which turned out to be their Achilles’ heel on the evening.
BC (16-7-2) struck in the final minute of the first when Smith notched his first of the game, patiently roofing a shot over a stretched-out Girard with 28.8 seconds remaining for a 1-0 lead.
In the second, Harvard was unable to score on two power-play opportunities that could have evened the game. And again, the Eagles were able to strike late — this time with two goals in the final two minutes.
Smith buried his second of the night, banging home the rebound of Bill Arnold’s shot at 18:18 to make it 2-0. Then, after Harvard’s Danny Fick was whistled for holding at 19:02, it took the BC power play just seven seconds to find defenseman Mike Matheson, who one-timed a shot over Girard’s glove for a 3-0 cushion.
In the third, Harvard finally cut into the BC lead when captain Danny Biega blasted a one-timer through a screen past Milner at 9:17. But that was as close as the Crimson came, overpowered by a BC defense that limited Harvard’s chances throughout the night.
“The last couple of minutes of the periods, our game management took away any chance for us to win the game,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “I thought [Girard] was outstanding. When he’s playing like that it gives a lot of confidence up and down the bench.”