BOSTON—Coming out with a bang, the Harvard men’s hockey team slammed in three goals within the first seven minutes of last night’s semifinal game of the Beanpot Tournament to seal a 3-1 victory against Northeastern at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Last night’s win marks the Crimson’s first victory in the opening round of the Beanpot in a decade. Appearing in the final round for the 25th time, the Crimson is now looking for its eleventh championship title.
“I’m really excited for our team and happy for our seniors that have a chance to play for the title in front of a big crowd next Monday night,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91.
With seven seniors on the team who have never appeared in the Beanpot championship, Harvard had extra motivation to reach the final round. Eager to seize their last chance at the Beanpot title, the Crimson’s elder statesmen ere largly responsible for Harvard’s offensive outburst.
Senior Paul Dufault gave the Crimson momentum early in the first period, finishing off classmate Jon Pelle’s rebound to put Harvard ahead, 1-0. Senior co-captain Mike Taylor slammed in the next goal, putting it in the right corner past Northeastern’s netminder Brad Thiessen. Boosting the Crimson’s lead, sophomore Doug Rogers finished off a play initiated by senior Alex Mientel and Taylor.
Overall, four seniors earned points for tonight’s goals.
“My class especially, we really wanted this one tonight, probably more than any game I’ve played in my career,” Taylor said. “We were able to get that through to the younger guys, and we were able to come out with a big team effort tonight.”
BOUNCING BACK FROM BROWN
The Crimson entered last night’s game after a disappointing 4-2 loss to bottom-of-the-barrel Brown on Feb. 1. Harvard’s defeat came on the heels of a nine-game winless streak that had only recently ended with a Crimson victory against Dartmouth on Jan. 27.
Although Harvard seemed to be a strong contender to win the ECACHL title at the beginning of the year, winning four in a row and besting long-time rival Cornell, the Crimson’s recent losses have set the team behind in the playoff race. The Crimson is currently short of fourth place – and the ECACHL playoff bye – by four points.
When the whistle blew to start last night’s game, Harvard had a long way to go to repair the damage to its record and to reestablish itself as a solid competitor.
“I think that definitely is part of the motivation,” Taylor said. “[Northeastern] can get the press—that’s fine. But we knew we had to come out and let our play do the talking for us and gain us respect because we hadn’t been earning it as of late for our play.”
Although Northeastern was favored to win last night’s match-up, it quickly became clear that the Huskies were outmatched.
Maintaining a strong defensive front, the Harvard blueliners severely limited the number of Northeastern’s scoring opportunities, allowing only 19 shots. The Crimson defense has not allowed more than 20 shots in three consecutive contests. Sophomore goalie Kyle Richter made 18 saves against the Huskies.
“I thought our defense did an outstanding job,” Donato said. “And although Kyle may not have faced a great number of shots, I don’t think there’s any question he made two or three big saves for us to keep us in the position that we were.”
Showing off their American pride, the Harvard Lowkeys sang the national anthem to kick off the first round of the 56th annual Beanpot…Although the Crimson is entering the championship round of the Beanpot with a sub-.500 record, there’s still hope for the title. Harvard has taken home three Beanpot championships while holding a losing record…The Huskies completed eleven games without a loss in November and December and broke a four-game winless streak against No. 15 Massachusetts before entering last night’s game
—Staff writer Courtney D. Skinner can be reached at email@example.com.