Crosstown rivals collided in front of a packed house at the Bright Hockey Center Tuesday as No. 14 Harvard hosted No. 20 Boston University in their traditional pre-Thanksgiving game. Harvard held a 2-0 lead after one period, but BU mounted a strong comeback, and Kevin Schaeffer scored with less than two minutes remaining in the third to force a 2-2 tie.
The Crimson (6-2-1, 5-2-0 ECACHL) jumped out to a quick lead after the Terriers (3-4-2, 3-3-1 Hockey East) took some early penalties. The first infraction, for elbowing, went against BU forward Ryan Weston. On the resulting Harvard power play, the Crimson controlled the puck in the BU zone and had a number of good scoring chances turned aside by goaltender John Curry. Unfortunately for the Terriers, defenseman Tom Morrow joined Weston in the box at 2:58 following a penalty for crosschecking.
With 30 seconds of a five-on-three advantage, the Crimson wasted little time in capitalizing on BU’s undisciplined play. Charlie Johnson, controlling the puck behind the net, fed a pass to linemate Dan Murphy, who was open near the top of the crease, and Murphy popped home his seventh goal of the season at 3:09 to give Harvard the 1-0 lead.
With 1:49 left on the two-minute penalty to Morrow, Harvard had at least three quality scoring chances on its five-on-four, and the Crimson power play controlled the puck in the BU zone for almost two and half minutes and exhausted the BU defenders but could not get another puck past Curry.
The Crimson continued to put pressure on Curry and BU, and again found the net at 10:25 of the first. Curry made a solid save off of a hard shot from the point by defenseman Dylan Reese, but Dave Watters fought his way past the BU defense and knocked home the loose puck from nearly the same spot as Murphy’s goal.
The even-strength score gave the Crimson a 2-0 lead. Harvard dominated the play in the first period, had three power plays, and outshot BU 20-7, but thanks to some great saves by Curry the Terriers entered the locker down only 2-0.
“John Curry played great,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “They could have had three or four goals in the first period.”
“We had plenty of chances to spread the lead,” agreed Harvard coach Ted Donato. “I thought Curry did a great job of keeping the game where it was.”
BU returned to the ice at the start of the second period sporting a two-minute power play, the result of a Watters penalty for boarding at the very end of the first period. As a result, the Terriers began the second with a more energetic, aggressive attack; on the whole, the middle frame was much more evenly matched than the first.
The Terriers appeared motivated by the way in which Harvard outplayed them earlier in the game, and from the second period on they got the better of the play.
“I think our guys were embarrassed,” said Parker. “Getting outshot 20-7 in the first period is a really embarrassing thing.”
BU pulled within one with less than three minutes left in the second on an extra effort by forward Brian McGuirk. McGuirk cut in on net from Daigneau’s left and received a cross-ice pass from defenseman Kevin Kielt, but his quick shot attempt went just wide, hitting the side of the net and rebounding off towards the boards.
McGuirk followed his shot, collected the puck and skated out around towards the faceoff circle, where he ripped a hard, odd-angle shot past Harvard netminder Daigneau. That score came at 17:11, and from there the Terriers began to press even further.
BU continued to put pressure on Harvard throughout the third, thanks in part to a number of power-play opportunities. While the opportunities didn’t directly result in any scores — BU finished the night 0-for-7 on the man-advantage, and managed only three shots during those power plays — the amount of time that Harvard spent on the penalty kill began to catch up to the Crimson defenders.
“I think we took a lot of penalties that were unnecessary,” Donato said. “We ended up using a lot of our best players in defensive situations over the last 30 minutes of the game.”
With the game winding down and Harvard clinging to a 2-1 lead, BU mounted a late surge and kept the puck in the Crimson zone. After a number of blocked shots and scrambles in front of the net, Schaeffer took advantage of a massive pileup at the edge of Daigneau’s crease and got the puck by the netminder to tie the game.
In overtime, the game opened up, and both teams had good chances in the five-minute session. Harvard forward Jimmy Frasier had a particularly close call on a puck that squirted along the goal line behind Curry before passing out the other side. Neither team was able to capitalize on its overtime chances, and the game ended tied at 2.
Both Harvard and BU will resume their schedules on Friday after a brief Thanksgiving break, and both will face a tough task when they do so. The Terriers welcome No. 13 Denver and No. 3 Colorado College for a weekend series, while Harvard travels to the North Country to face off against No. 19 Clarkson and No. 12 St. Lawrence.