It was one of those nights when you walk out of the Boston Garden wondering why certain things had to happen the way they did.
If only Brian Petrovek hadn't misjudged a Boston University deflection at 5:54 of the third period.
If only a "mystery goal" hadn't magically appeared behind Petrovek nine minutes later to catapult the Terriers to a two-goal lead over the Crimson.
If only Dave Bell's desperation buzzer drive had managed to elude B.U. goaltender Brian Durocher in the frantic finale of last night's opening round of the Beanpot Tournament.
If only B.U. hadn't won, 6-5.
Facing the awesome combination of the nation's No. 1 college hockey team and the I-just-had-an-exam-this-afternoon blues, Harvard's rapidly developing hockey squad gave it a good go at the Garden last night, only to come up one goal and a few seconds short.
That margin was particularly painful in light of the frustrating events of the final period, which saw the Crimson explode dramatically in the early minutes, to wipe out a B.U. lead and assume command of the game.
Trailing 3-1 as the period opened, Harvard's underdogs pumped some life into a sluggish game when Kevin Burke tallied with just over one minute gone and Paul Haley followed with another score about 60 seconds later.
Burke took a pass from forward Gene Purdy and swooped in on Durocher at the 1:12 mark, stuffing it between the goaltender's pads and cutting the margin to 3-2.
After Petrovek robbed B.U.'s Mike Eruzione at point-blank range at the other end of the ice, Haley grabbed the puck at mid-ice, skated just inside the Terrier blue line, and rocketed the game-tier by Durocher at 2:23.
Unusual Garden Crowd
An unusually subdued Garden crowd came to life with that one, and visions of upset danced in Crimson fans' heads. But the fates were not about to allow this one to get away from the Terriers, and the Crimson netminder was their first victim, three minutes later.
Harvard's Jim "Sonny" Liston got the puck rolling for the Terriers at the 4:06 mark, when he was nabbed by the referees for holding. Liston spent the next minute and 48 seconds in the sin bin, his stay shortened by a cheap but important B.U. goal at 5:54.
With the Terrier power play winding its way down, apparently unsuccessfully, B.U.'s Mike Fidler redirected a slow shot toward the Crimson goal. The next frame in the picture sequence shows people standing on their feet, the red light is on, and Petrovek and the rest of those present wondering about the one that got away.
As if that weren't bad enough for Harvard's cause, the Terriers were the recipients of another shocker nine minutes later, sending them off to what seemed an insurmountable 5-3 bulge.
Few people who were there can tell you how it happened, but at 14:02 the puck appeared behind Brian Petrovek, and jubilation reigned on Commonwealth Ave. once again.
There were a few B.U. players knocking around the goalmouth at the time, specifically Ricky Meagher, who got credit for the goal, and Bill Buckton and Mike Eruzione, who got assists.
Harvard's Jim Liston picked up a few Brownie points for trying to scoop the puck out of the goal before anyone saw it, but most of the 11,118 spectators were already discussing the magical properties of the black disc.
Terriers on Their Way
So it was 5-3, and the Terriers were on their way, somewhat fortuitously, to their 15th win in 17 starts. But the odd happenings were not quite over, and with just three minutes left on the clock, Harvard's Bill Hozack made it 5-4 with a spectacular backhand drive past Durocher.
It isn't too often that hockey fans are treated to a goal after an open net score, but once Mike Eruzione slid the puck into a deserted Crimson cage at 19:29 to make it 6-4, Harvard went to work again.
After Jim Trainor and Haley moved the puck into the B.U. zone, Dave Bell took a pass in front and sped one by Durocher. Nine seconds left, B.U. 6-5.
Harvard had one gasp left, a 50-foot drive by Bell at the buzzer which carromed off the pads of Durocher, and the wild one was over. The Crimson had dropped their first game in eight outings and fell to 6-5-2.
B.U. had jumped to a quick lead in the opening period on the strength of goals by Terry Meagher and Bill Buckton in the first five minutes of action, and a goal by Harvard's Todd Nieland at 7:26 capped the scoring in the stanza.
With 1:16 remaining in the second period, B.U.'s Ken Kuzyk made the score 3-1 on a breakaway, and the stage was set for the magical mystery tour of the final 20 minutes.
The game was uneven in excitement and interest, but one thing was apparent: the caliber of the two participants has been equalized, and the ECAC's are not far off.
Paul Barrett's two goals powered Boston College to a 5-3 win over Northeastern Monday night in the opening round of the Beanpot Hockey Tournament at Boston Garden.
Freshman goalie Paul Skidmore of B.C. made 27 saves, many of them in the third period as Northeastern scrambled in vain for a comeback.
Fran Huck had two goals for the losers, including one with only three and a half minutes to go in the finale.