BOSTON — You’ll often hear people say about sports that things are cyclical, unless, of course, you’re talking about the Beanpot.
It took 24 years for a team without ‘Boston’ in its name to win the title, but on Monday, Harvard ended a magnanimously long Beanpot drought, knocking off Boston University 6-3 in front of 15,941 at the TD Garden.
The win was the first title for the Crimson since 1993, the last time that neither BU nor Boston College claimed the title.
There have been numerous close calls, though few involved Harvard, which hadn’t reached the title game since 2008. All that made Monday’s win a little sweeter.
“Our group felt like it was their night, and they were willing to work to make sure it was their night,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “It’s been a long time coming.”
“You think about [the drought] leading up to games like this and after games like this,” said senior Alexander Kerfoot. “You hear a lot about the history and are proud to be part of the history, but going into games, you need to treat it like it’s any other game.
“We’ve learned from some of the failures we’re have and that’s part of the success we’ve had this year.”
Harvard held a lopsided edge in shots throughout the entire game but still found itself down, 2-1, midway through.
With the Crimson trying to regain momentum after BU scored twice early in the second, Harvard’s Luke Esposito redirected a shot from the left point perfectly past Terriers netminder Jake Oettinger (40 saves) to knot the game at 2.
BU might have been happy to reach intermission tied but couldn’t survive a late onslaught by the Crimson. With 1:06 remaining, Nathan Krusko roofed home the rebound of John Marino’s shot to level the period and give Harvard the lead at 3-2.
Krusko, who finished with two goals, was the tournament MVP.
A penalty on Krusko’s goal along with another just 44 seconds later to BU’s Charlie McAvoy put Harvard on a 5-on-3 man advantage that carried over to the third.
And early pressure by the Crimson translated to Kerfoot burying a rebound for Harvard’s first two-goal lead 31 seconds into the third.
Ryan Donato and Clayton Keller traded goals 33 seconds apart in the final eight minutes of the game, but that’s as close as the Terriers could get.
Rookie Adam Fox scored from 200 feet away into an empty net with 1:50 remaining.
A major part of the game was Harvard’s speed, which placed BU on its heels for the entire first period and much of the game. In the end it was a difference maker.
“[Team speed] is something that is part of our identity,” said Donato. “We wanted this game to be about us. And that’s why I felt like we were relentless and stayed with the game we wanted to play.
“I really felt we won a lot of races to the puck and, yes it’s about speed, but it’s about a level of conviction that our leaders brought that everybody else seemed to follow.”
Despite a lopsided 18-2 shot advantage in the opening period, Harvard held just a 1-0 lead. And that goal took a two-man advantage to finish.
A one-timer by Sean Malone was bobbled by Oettinger and fell into the crease, allowing Krusko to poke home the loose puck at 15:10 for a 1-0 Crimson lead.
While the Terriers were down a goal, being out attempted in the opening period, 38-4, may have seemed like a moral victory,
“We stressed that you don’t get anything for winning a period,” said Donato of his team’s attitude after the first.
Early in the second, BU bounced back. After a penalty to Harvard’s Jacob Olsen for slashing, Kieffer Bellows poked home a rebound of a Brandon Hickey shot at 1:29 to even the game at 1.
That goal turned momentum and at 15:38, a perfect deflection by Keller beat Harvard goaltender Merrick Madsen (14 saves) to give BU its first – and only – lead at 2-1.
“From start to finish we were fighting an uphill battle,” said Quinn. “Sure, we had the 2-1 lead, but at the end of the day, this is a game of want and boy did [Harvard] want it.”
“For that senior class, they want to be the group that broke the curse and leave a legacy,” said Donato of the Beanpot drought. “They did that.”
Consolation: Northeastern 4, Boston College 2
Just as Harvard hadn’t won a title since 1993, Boston College hadn’t finished fourth in a Beanpot tournament since that same year.
That, though, came to fruition when Dylan Sikura broke a 2-2 tie with 42.6 second remaining. Adam Gaudette added an empty-net goal to account for a 4-2 final. Matt Filipe scored twice for Northeastern.
It appeared Boston College took the lead late in regulation when David Cotton scored. But video review ruled Colin White had interfered with goaltender Ryan Ruck. Less than a half minute later, Sikura netted the game-winning goal.