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BOSTON—Heading into his team’s match against BU, Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni thought that penalties might well determine the outcome of the game.
He was mistaken. Special teams did not decide the Beanpot semifinal last night despite a fair number of opportunites for both teams. Harvard finished the night 0-for-4 with the man advantage, and the Terriers failed on all five of their chances.
The Crimson penalty killers were solid all night, clearing the puck and vigorously forechecking to halt BU attacks before they began. When the Terriers did gain the offensive zone, Harvard successfully limited shots and cut down angles. The Terriers were just as effective in killing Harvard’s power plays, with the exception of the last advantage of the game.
Playing a man up with just under 12 minutes left in the third, Harvard kept the puck in the BU zone for the full two minutes, continually blasting slap shots from the point and the circles. BU goaltender Sean Fields turned away all the Crimson’s chances to keep the game tied at 1, then held Harvard at bay for the rest of the third to preserve a Terrier victory.
Head to Head
The real key to the game may have been faceoffs, with two of the night’s three goals coming on slapshots right off the draw.
The Crimson struck first, scoring at 6:59 of the second. Sophomore Tom Cavanagh won the draw in the BU zone back to junior defenseman Kenny Smith, who was positioned at the blue line. Smith rifled a shot that, aided by post-faceoff traffic in front, whistled between Fields’ legs.
“Kenny’s goal probably was similiar to the winner that [BU] had,” Mazzoleni said. “He put it right on the far pipe, and I don’t think Fields even saw the puck.”
The Terrier’s game-winner came just as swiftly. BU sophomore David Klema won a faceoff in the right circle. Captain Freddy Meyer took the pass at the top of the faceoff circle and fired a shot that a screened Grumet-Morris never saw until the puck was passing by his stick side.
“We lost that faceoff straight up, and [BU captain Freddy] Meyer took the shot,” Grumet-Morris said. “At the last second I picked up the puck as it went by me. He put it right where he needed to.”
The crucial impact of faceoffs in the game’s outcome was a bit of a surprise even to the coaches.
“Two faceoff goals—they get a faceoff goal, we get a faceoff goal—but ours is the one that wins it,” said BU coach Jack Parker, with a slight shake of his head.
Not His Night
On the day when Noah Welch was named as one of twelve finalists for the Walter Brown Award—given annually to the best American-born hockey player in New England—the sophomore defenseman suffered one of his most disappointing games in a Crimson uniform.
Despite solid, physical play on defense, a steady presence on the penalty kill, and his normal contributions to the offense, Welch will remember the 2003 Beanpot opener against BU for the two plays he did not make.
The first Terrier goal came at Welch’s expense. Taking a pass from teammate Mark Mullen, BU defenseman Bryan Miller skated in from the blue line one-on-one against Welch. Miller faked to the outside, slid the puck between Welch’s legs and cut inside quickly. Once past Welch, Miller wristed a shot past Grumet-Morris to tie the game at 1.
Though he broke up numerous other BU breaks on net, the stop that wasn’t stuck out in Welch’s mind.
His inability to convert on a point-blank shot midway through the third period also weighed heavily on Welch in the post game press conference.
“I had one [shot] that could have made the difference,” he said.
That shot came on a 2-on-1 break, with Welch and freshman forward Charlie Johnson skating quickly into the Terrier zone.
“One of of their defensemen got caught up,” Welch said. “Charlie Johnson made a great move and had the goalie on his side. I had a whole net and I couldn’t finish.”
Welch wasn’t the only one.
“We had our chances and so did they, but we just didn’t finish,” Mazzoleni said.
But fair or not, the many plays Noah Welch made against BU are temporarily forgotten in the wake of the two he failed to make.
—Staff Writer Timothy M. McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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