Playing for the third place in the Beanpot--especially when the contest doesn't count in the ECAC standings--is akin to taking an hourly in a pass-fail course: it means almost nothing, but doing well certainly can't hurt.
Last night at Boston Garden, the Harvard hockey team--looking for a little satisfaction and the distinction of giving Boston Univeristy its first last-place finish in the tournament since 1963--found both. The 6-11-1 (5-7-1 ECAC) Crimson (who face Princeton tomorrow night in the next game that counts) broke open an uninspired confrontation with four third-period goals to overwhelm the Terriers, 7-4.
Freshman leading scorer Mark Fusco (10-12-22) sparked the Crimson with a goal and three assists and senior right wing Tom Murray notched three points to break out of a brief slump. But the unexpected arrived when Harvard's two senior co-captains finally grabbed a piece of the action.
In only his second start of the season. goalie John Hynes--aiming to reaffirm the Beanpot reputation he gained during last year's heartbreaking 4-2 loss to the Terriers--stopped 24 of 28 shots.
And with Harvard up 5-4 and 1:50 remaining, Carter hit the Terrier net with a slow-motion slap shot for an insurance goal. Dave Burke added an empty-net marker at 19:55 as the icemen notched their eighth third-place Beanpot finish.
With the teams tied at three goals apiece and 12:53 left in regulation, defenseman Fusco beat B.U. goalie Jeff Weisman with--what else--a slapshot from the point. A Greg Britz wrist shot followed a minute later to make it 5-3, Harvard.
B.U. center Mark Fidler closed the gap to 5-4 at 13:52, but the Terriers' well-documented Beanpot magic had departed a week earlier.
Not that either team came out roaring.
There's something about an acute shortage of fans that puts the brakes on Beanpot competition, and both the Terriers and the Crimson started sluggishly as the sound of scraping skates echoed through the sparsely-populated Garden.
After 11:08 of ambivalent play, highlighted when B.U. left wing Grant Goegan missed an open net, Murray became the first upperclassman to score for the Crimson in three games. Taking a set-up from Fusco at the blue line, Murray took his time and waited for Weisman to make the first move before slipping the puck by on the short side.
Neither squad could break through as the faithful streamed in and the tempo picked up until 9:13 of period two, when left wing Daryl MacLeod, last year's tournament MVP, neatly tipped a pass to linemate Paul Miller between Hynes's pads to knot the game at one.
Freshman Jim Turner retaliated for Harvard 1:12 later, converting Greg Olson's precision cross-cease feed for his fifth goal of the year.
But the 2-1 advantage proved short-lived as Terrier captain Tony Meagher blasted a loose puck through Hynes from five feet out with 7:15 to go in the middle session.
The third period began much like the first, with neither team taking the initiative. With both sides ostensibly intent on prolonging their less than emotion-filled encounter into overtime, Harvard's Greg Olson and B.U.'s Fidler traded tallies at 5:44 and 6:28 to keep the contest even at 3-3. Then the Crimson decided that a little consolation was better than none.