NOTEBOOK: Crimson Struggle with Power Play

“Girard, Girard. It’s all your fault, it’s all your fault.”

After the Eagles’ third goal of the game, the Boston College student section heckled Girard with its traditional and well-rehearsed “sieve” cheer.

Let the record show that the Crimson’s loss was by no stretch Raphael Girard’s fault. In fact, the junior goaltender may have been Harvard’s best man on the ice Monday night.

With two minutes left in the second period, Girard and his teammates seemed poised to achieve high-scale robbery on ice. The Eagles peppered the Crimson with shots during the second frame, yet Girard stood tall in net through 29 Boston College shots on goal.

But a sharp goaltender would not be enough to carry Harvard (5-15-1, 3-12-0 ECAC) to its first Beanpot final in five years thanks to an unrelenting Eagles forecheck. Boston College (16-7-2, 12-6-1 HE) found the back of the net on its final two shots of the period as the defending NCAA and Beanpot champions rolled to a 4-1 win over the struggling Crimson.

Girard finished the night with 42 saves as the Eagles outshot Harvard, 46-20. Making his first Beanpot start, the Quebecois did show some nerves early in the contest, tripping on a post the first time he was forced to handle the puck. But the junior quickly found a groove.

“I’ve been waiting for quite awhile,” Girard said. “I was really eager to get in the game. I was really nervous at the start… But I was just trying to go out there and be as aggressive as I could and be really poised because [BC] has a lot of poised players.”

In the first, Girard turned away six shots to stop a buzzing Boston College power play. In the second, he stuffed BC captain Pat Mullane on a shorthanded break-away.

When the Eagles did break through, Girard had little chance. Boston College’s second strike of the game came on a crisply-executed cross-rink pass that left Girard stranded on the other side of the net. Seconds later, Michael Matheson found a clear shooting lane to put the Eagles up, 3-0, into the final intermission.

Despite the high shots on goal count, Girard did receive plenty of help from his teammates. Harvard skaters blocked 21 of Boston College’s 79 attempted shots.

POWERLESS ON THE POWER PLAY

It is official: Harvard has gone from first to worst on the power play.

A year ago, the Crimson led the NCAA with a 27.4 percent success rate on the power play. After going 0-for-3 with the man advantage Monday, Harvard’s power play unit now ranks 59th out of 59 D-I teams.

“I think our power play is something that we’re going to need to improve if we’re going to have some success down the stretch,” Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “We have juggled a bunch of guys in and out of the line-up, just got Kyle Criscuolo back. It’s something that we’ll continue to work on.”

The Crimson struggled to set up a focused attack during each of its three 5-on-4 opportunities. The Boston College penalty kill chewed valuable seconds off the clock with key faceoff wins and clean clears. Despite promising looks from freshman Jimmy Vesey and senior Alex Fallstrom, Harvard had some difficulty establishing the zone and cycling the puck.

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