Top Dogs Down Crimson by Goal

Open Mike
Jessica A. Pledger

Sophomore Michael Biega found an open shooting lane in the first period and slammed home the puck to put Harvard up 1-0. The Crimson challenged BU to the end, but could not hold on to the early lead. The Terriers, ranked No. 1 in the country, won 4-3 to a

It would have been an upset for the ages, perhaps even more stunning than the men’s basketball team’s defeat of then-No. 17 Boston College one month ago. But time ran out before the Crimson could conjure up one last miracle, as the Harvard men’s hockey team fell 4-3 to No. 1 Boston University (20-5-1) last night in the first round of the annual Beanpot tournament. In front of 17,565 fans on the biggest stage of Boston area hockey, the Crimson (5-12-4) made a strong showing against its top-ranked foes, but junior Alex Biega’s would-be tying goal found the net a split-second after the clock expired in the third period.

“I thought it was a great hockey game,” said Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91. “I’m very proud of our guy. We battled not only to the last second, maybe to the last extra half-second.”

The contest’s dramatic ending brought the climax of a frame marked by high tensions, as the squads entered the final period knotted at 2-2.

Allowing its opponent no early shots on goal, Harvard had the first opportunity to break the tie when sophomore Michael Biega found some separation and blasted a shot off the crossbar nine minutes in.

The squandered chance proved costly a few minutes later. Immediately after winning the faceoff, BU’s Zach Cohen pushed the puck past Crimson freshman goalie Matt Hoyle to give the Terriers their first lead of the game at 11:25.

Cheered on not only by its small student section but also by Northeastern supporters, Harvard refused to give in and responded just three minutes later. On the fifth and final power play for the Crimson, Biega wristed a hard shot on goal from between the faceoff circles, and sophomore Pier-Olivier Michaud’s deflection dribbled between the BU netminder’s legs to tie it at three all.

A Harvard hooking penalty with just over two minutes to go gave the formidable Terrier power play a chance to flex its muscles. Taking advantage of the penalty, Terrier Jason Lawrence found space in the left faceoff circle and unleashed a devastating slap shot over Hoyle’s left shoulder, sending the BU fans into a frenzy.

Despite pulling its goalie with a minute left, the Crimson could not muster an equalizer to send the game into overtime. Amidst the confusion after Biega’s desperation attempt, the final ruling from a video-replay review declared that the puck went in after time had expired.

The Terriers escaped with the win over the underdog, but not without a few scratches.

“That’s why the Beanpot’s so special,” Biega said. “You’re guaranteed to get a great game. It was close, it was tough, but I think our team really battled through it, and we took a step forward, that’s for sure.”

Aggressive from the start, Harvard certainly showed no signs of being intimidated by BU’s ranking.

Crimson freshman Alex Killorn opened the first period with a solid chance to score, and later two saves by Hoyle helped kill the first Terrier power play.

Having neutralized its opponent’s attack, Harvard made the most of its own scoring opportunity 11 minutes into the frame, when a soft wrister through the five-hole from sophomore Michael Biega gave him his fourth goal of the season. The younger Biega took a pass from freshman Eric Kroshus in the left circle and maneuvered his way through the defense to put the Crimson ahead.

Lackluster play by BU combined with Hoyle’s solid performance in goal kept the Terriers scoreless for the rest of the period, despite two more power plays. The Harvard netminder seemed unaffected by the pressure of his first Beanpot appearance, stopping a flurry of shots in a dangerous sequence right before the first intermission.

Also crucial were the two BU penalties committed during the last 12 seconds of the frame, which set up the Crimson’s 5-on-3 man advantage to start the second period.

Barely a minute into the power play, Killorn came through with an unassisted shot over the Terrier goalie’s right shoulder, opening up a commanding two-goal Harvard lead.

But BU responded in impressive fashion, as forward Nick Bonino erased the deficit with a pair of goals 1:43 apart, the first a one-timer from the left side off a pass out of the corner. After a subsequent Crimson hooking penalty, Bonino took a backside pass from captain Matt Gilroy and scooped a backhand past Hoyle.

The next Terrier power play was successfully killed thanks in part to a sprawling save by Hoyle, and neither team found another opening the rest of the period to set up the memorable finish.

After having outshot BU 9-7 in the first period, Harvard managed only seven shots to the Terriers’ 17 in the second.

—Staff writer Dennis J. Zheng can be reached at