Statistically, Boston University has the top power play in the country, scoring at a 23.8% clip with the man-advantage so far this season. This game stayed true to form, as the Terriers were 2-for-6 on the power play, including the third-period game winner from Jason Lawrence.
“The power play won the game for us,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “It’s been real good for us all year.”
BU’s penalty kill, tops in Hockey East, was not so solid, as the Terriers allowed two power-play goals for Harvard, including a five-on-three goal in the opening moments of the second period and a goal that tied it at 3 late in the third.
“I thought Harvard worked unbelievably hard throughout the game,” said Parker. “I thought we got outworked in the first period. We played better in the second, we got after it pretty well and I hoped it would take away some of their momentum. But I thought Harvard’s best period was the third.”
Still, it was penalties that eventually caught up to Harvard.
“The ones that hurt the most are the ones that come when there aren’t scoring chances,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “We took some penalties in the offensive zone. We knew coming into the game that it was BU was a team that could really hurt us on the power play. They have two really good power play lines.”
Boston University advances to the Beanpot finals next week for a remarkable 24th time in the last 26 years. Last season, the Terriers lost in the first round to rival Boston College, for a rare appearance in the early game in the Beanpot’s second week.
“I told the team before the game that we had already played in our Beanpot consolation game this decade,” said Parker. “We don’t need another one.”
This Could Be The Start of Something Big
Coming into the Beanpot this year, Harvard had won just once in 14 games (Union, 3-1). That’s not such a good record, but Harvard provided strong play, battling the No. 1 team in the country to a draw until the waning moments of the third period, and then nearly sending the game to overtime as time expired.
“That’s why the Beanpot is so special — you are guaranteed to get a great game,” said Alex Biega, who leads the Crimson in scoring and nearly sent the game into overtime, putting the puck in the net less than a second after the end of the game. “We took a big step forward, that’s for sure.”
Ted Donato’s squad hopes to repeat its performance from last year. In the 2007-2008 season immediately prior to the Beanpot, Harvard had won just once in the prior 12 games (Dartmouth, 3-1). Good play in last year’s tournament propelled the Crimson to a strong league finish, an appearance in the ECACHL championship game, and almost led to a NCAA postseason appearance.
“There are lots of things to look forward to for the rest of the season,” said Donato.
Harvard scored the first two goals of the game and tied the game at three in the third period before finally bowing to Boston University’s firepower. The Crimson have a recent history of starting well, scoring first in the semifinal game each of the last three years.
Last year, Harvard stunned Northeastern with three first-period goals before going on to win, 3-1. In 2006-2007, Harvard scored first against Boston College, but lost 3-1.
Still, starting strong is only satisfying if you also finish strong.
“I don’t think the mood in the locker room is one of moral victory because we kept it close,” said Donato. “We honestly thought we could win this game.”
With a pair of goals tonight, BU’s Nick Bonino, a sophomore who has only appeared in three Beanpot games, now has four goals, including a goal in each Beanpot game in his career.
“I have been a little snakebit,” said Bonino, who had just one goal in his last 10 games before tonight’s performance. “It’s been a little frustrating. There are some games it’s there and some games it’s not. But the puck was bouncing for me tonight.”
Youth Before Beauty
Michael Biega, sophomore, and Alex Killorn, freshman, came into the game sporting identical 3-7–10 scoring lines. After Biega scored in the first, Killorn matched him with a power-play goal in the early moments of the second. Biega almost added a second goal midway through the third period. After taking advantage of a Jason Lawrence miscue, he broke in alone on Millan and loudly clanged a shot off the post.
Biega and Killorn represent the youth movement for Harvard. Killorn has appeared in all 20 games this season, the only freshman to do so for the Crimson. Biega has played in 19 of the 20.
Another freshman starting in his first Beanpot was HU goaltender Matt Hoyle.
“When you are a freshman and you start the first game of the Beanpot, that’s special,” said Donato. “Ultimately, he gave us a chance to win, making the saves he needed to make. Tonight is part and parcel of relying on a young goalie.”
Curse of No. 1?
Earlier today, the Terriers were awarded the top spot in the USCHO.com/CBS College Sports Division I Men’s Poll. BU was ranked No. 1 for one week back in late November — and promptly dropped two games at home to Vermont.
It has taken the Terriers the rest of the season to climb back to the top spot in the polls, and just hours after that announcement, BU found itself down by two goals in the second period in the Beanpot semifinal to Harvard.
“Obviously, we don’t want to focus on that,” said Jason Lawrence, who scored the game-winner late in the third period. “We wanted to focus on getting to the Beanpot finals. That’s a goal for us from the beginning of the season.”
“We’ve been struggling a bit this year, and coming into the Beanpot and having a chance to play the No. 1 team in the nation on arguably the biggest stage in college hockey is something special,” said Harvard’s Alex Biega. “It’s tough the way it ended, but obviously the Beanpot is an unbelievable experience and we were really excited.”
The last time Harvard played a team ranked No. 1 in the nation was on Nov. 17, 2004, when the Crimson hosted and defeated BC, 3-1.
Quotables, Jack Parker Edition
“Would we like to win the Hockey East title? Would we like to win a national title? Sure. But we don’t know if we will be in those tournaments; we know we will be in the Beanpot.” — Parker, at the Beanpot media luncheon.
“I thought the game was like last night’s Super Bowl. Who is going to get the last shot? Who is going to have the last possession? It was a hell of a college hockey game.” — Parker
“I’ve been wrong more than once regarding (senior defenseman) Matt Gilroy. As a freshman, I told him not to come to BU. I told him to leave after his junior year. He’s not the kind of player to listen to his coach, thank God.” — On Gilroy, who turned down pro offers to return and play with his freshman brother Kevin at BU this season.