BOSTON — For a consolation game, it perhaps had more postseason implications than the final.
No. 10 Boston College took down No. 16 Harvard 3-2 in overtime Monday to claim third place at the Beanpot tournament, delivering yet another critical blow to the Crimson’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Semifinals: Feb. 3
• Third place: Boston College 3, Harvard 2 (OT)
The fact that the game had such important ramifications wasn’t lost on the teams.
“Before it was just playing a 4:30 game, looking ahead to who’s next on the schedule,” said York, noting that the game was just something teams would collectively wish “let’s get this thing over with.”
“We stressed the fact that probably girlfriends and families will be here, no TV timeouts, but it’s just hockey out here,” York added.
“I think our players understood the importance of the game with the PairWise,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “We had already played at BC earlier in the season, but obviously they’re a team under consideration, as are we, and we knew the game was important. Over the last few years teams have understood these games are important even though they might not have the same coverage or media attention as the final does. They count just the same.”
Once again, York dodged a last-place finish (the Eagles have yet to lose the consolation game under York), while Ted Donato’s Crimson sank to fourth for the fifth time in his 11-year tenure.
“I didn’t have any issue with our effort,” Donato said. “I thought we played very well, had plenty of chances to put it away, but I give Boston College credit.”
Even by consolation game standards, there were few souls in the building when the game began. A sleepy atmosphere gave way to a tepid first period, with a total of four shots through the game’s first 10 minutes.
Boston College (19-10-3) managed to break through against the run of play, cashing in with Alex Tuch banging in a rebound 15:06 into the first period.
But the Crimson (14-10-3) rallied from a second-period deficit to score back-to-back goals in a three-minute span. BC took five penalties in the period, with Harvard cashing in on one — part of the scoring spurt to put the Crimson in the lead, and putting Thatcher Demko (33 saves) on his heels.
First, Alex Kerfoot sneaked in a wrist shot blocker side in transition. Then, on the power play, Sean Malone banged in a centering pass from Jimmy Vesey, knocking it into a vacant net from the back door.
“I thought we’d have the penalty situation solved by now,” York said. “It’s too late in the year for us to be talking about penalties.”
Despite all the opportunities on the power play, including three additional stints in the period, Harvard came up empty the rest of the night.
“I thought we created plenty of chances and carried the play for a good amount of time, but they hung around,” Donato said.
Matt Gaudreau tied it for BC near the midway point in the third period, knocking in a rebound created by Steve Santini’s shot from the point.
The Eagles kept the accelerator going through the remainder of regulation, controlling possession and nearly winning it on several occasions, only to be turned away by Michalek’s heroics.
But even Michalek couldn’t prevent the tight shot from slipping through in overtime.
“Harvard played with the puck an awful lot early,” York said. “Part of it was that we took a lot of undisciplined penalties early. Our penalty killers play a lot of five-on-five shifts.”
But the Eagles seemed to settle things down, which played a large part in securing the win.
“Our play was much better late in the game,” York said. “We were more disciplined as a club.”
If the Eagles can make discipline a regular feature of their game, their postseason future might look even brighter.