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Coming into the Beanpot consolation game, the Harvard men’s hockey team was in shambles. The Crimson held an abysmal 4-18-1 record, and just a week earlier, the team had been steamrolled by unranked Northeastern, showing no life in a 4-0 loss.
Against No. 15 Boston University for third place, victory—let alone a close contest—seemed like a longshot.
But suddenly, after a season of frustration, everything clicked.
In a back-and-forth game at TD Garden, Harvard came out on top, coming back late to shock the Terriers, 5-4, in a Valentine’s Day thriller.
The game didn’t begin the Crimson’s way. Less than six minutes in, the Terriers slapped the puck past senior goaltender Ryan Carroll to get on the board. It looked like Harvard was headed for yet another loss.
“When [BU] scored, we got a little déjà vu feeling,” sophomore forward Alex Fallstrom said. “But we didn’t want a repeat of the Northeastern game. Losing against Northeastern was the worst thing ever.”
And so, the Crimson responded with its most impressive 73-second span of the 2010-2011 season.
Junior forward Daniel Moriarty’s game misconduct penalty at the end of the first period gave the Terriers a one-man advantage for five minutes, but Harvard did more than just kill the power play. Four minutes into the second period, Fallstrom passed to junior forward Alex Killorn, who put the puck in the back of the net to tie the score at one apiece. Just 54 seconds later, from the slot, junior defenseman Ryan Grimshaw added another goal to the Crimson’s total, giving the underdogs the one-goal advantage.
Nineteen seconds after Grimshaw’s score, Fallstrom found Killorn, who beat the BU goaltender once again.
“Between the first and second [periods], it really just felt like this was a game for us to win,” sophomore forward Marshall Everson said. “I thought that confidence showed right away when we scored those three goals.”
Harvard’s lead proved to be short-lived. At the 12:24 mark in the same period, the Terriers notched a power play goal to cut the lead in half. Less than a minute later, BU found the back of the net once more, tying the score at three. Neither squad managed a goal for the rest of the period.
The stalemate reigned through much of the third frame until the Terriers took advantage of another power play at the 14:05 mark.
The Crimson answered quickly. Just 1:52 later, sophomore defenseman Danny Biega, the team’s leading scorer throughout the season, snuck a shot from the point through a host of players and past the goaltender.
But Harvard wasn’t finished quite yet.
With just 2:08 left on the clock, co-captain forward Michael Del Mauro grabbed the rebound off of a shot by sophomore forward Conor Morrison and hit the puck past the goal line, giving the Crimson the important lead with little left on the clock.
In the remaining time, BU used everything in its arsenal to try and even the contest at five goals each. With 1:20 to go, the Terriers pulled their goalie and frantically fired shots at goal. In fact, in the period, BU outshot Harvard, 20-9.
But in the end, it wasn’t enough, and as the buzzer sounded, Harvard maintained its one-goal lead to earn the huge upset.
“We built a lot of momentum throughout the game, and even though they scored on us a couple times, I felt like we were the stronger team throughout the game,” Fallstrom said.
Despite the game’s high scoring, Carroll played an integral part in the team’s victory, making a season-high 45 saves. His play helped to neutralize the Terriers’ 20-shot advantage over the Crimson.
On the offensive end, Killorn led the way with two goals, while Biega had three points on the night with two assists and one score.
Harvard’s performance in the Beanpot contest was in stark contrast to the Crimson’s play less than a month earlier, when BU handily beat the squad, 5-2.
So for Harvard, the Valentine’s Day victory had larger implications than just a third-place finish in the Beanpot.
“The way we had a comeback a couple times, and the resiliency we showed was very important, not just for that game but [also] for the whole season,” Everson said.
“The BU win was a really big turning point for our season, especially since BU is one of the top teams in the country,” Fallstrom added. “It really showed that we could compete.”
—Staff writer Robert S. Samuels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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