UPDATED: February 24, 2015, at 12:23 a.m.
BOSTON—Entering Monday, Jerry York had yet to finish last at the annual Beanpot Tournament over the course of his 21-year tenure as head coach of the Boston College men’s ice hockey team.
On the other end of the spectrum, Harvard took the ice on Monday having brought up the rear in 11 of the 20 latest iterations of the annual tournament. In the consolation game of a Beanpot that has been anything but traditional, history held serve, as the No. 9/10 Eagles (19-10-3, 10-6-1 Hockey East) skated away with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory at TD Garden.
After heavy snow postponed the second round of the tournament from Feb. 9, Monday’s contest marked the latest Beanpot game to be played since 1978. So naturally, BC took control of the game with a storm of its own.
After generating just 10 shots on target in the first two periods, the Eagles came alive with 17 in the final frame and overtime. Following an equalizer from sophomore forward Matthew Gaudreau midway through the third period that tied the game at two, BC sent the No. 16/15 Crimson (14-10-3, 10-7-3 ECAC) packing 1:16 into the extra frame.
Looking to make something happen behind the Harvard net, Eagle senior forward Destry Straight spotted sophomore forward Ryan Fitzgerald alone by the left pipe. After being denied by the post on his first attempt, Fitzgerald collected his own rebound and forced a shot past junior goaltender Steve Michalek to hand the Crimson its second overtime loss of the tournament.
“I really didn’t have any issue with our effort,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “I thought we played very well and had plenty of chances, [but we] needed to be able to score to put them away…. [The Eagles] hung in there, they made the big saves when they had to, and obviously they were able to get the game-winner.”
For the Crimson, it was as though Groundhog Day had been postponed as far into February as the game itself. The contest followed practically the same script as Harvard’s Beanpot opener—a 4-3 overtime loss to Boston University—beginning with a pair of goals for sophomore forwards Alex Kerfoot and Sean Malone in the second period.
After BC was whistled for boarding, one of seven Eagles’ penalties on the night, Kerfoot took advantage. Creeping up the slot upon receiving a pass from junior defenseman Desmond Bergin, the forward utilized some skillful stick work to avoid his defender and ripped a shot over BC goaltender Thatcher Demko’s right blocker to even the score.
“Harvard played with the puck an awful lot early, [and] part of it was because we took a lot of undisciplined penalties,” York said. “Our penalty killers play a lot of five-on-five shifts, so they were just worn down by those situations.”
Less than two minutes later, Malone gave his side its first lead of the evening, batting a pass from junior forward Jimmy Vesey out of the air and into the back of the net. With the score, the Crimson finished with as many goals (two) in the middle frame as the Eagles did shots.
But the similarities between the two contests did not end there, as Harvard watched its lead vanish midway through the third period. When BC junior defenseman Teddy Doherty rocketed a shot on net, for a brief moment it appeared as though the Crimson might go off-script, as sophomore defenseman Victor Newell came up with the stop of the game, covering for a scrambling Michalek in the heart of the crease.
But following the shot block, the puck made its way back to the point, where Eagles sophomore defenseman Steve Santini fired it right back at the junior netminder. Michalek made the initial save, but Doherty got his stick on the rebound, enabling the puck to make its way to Gaudreau, who tapped home the equalizer.
Michalek, who won the Eberly Award for recording the highest save percentage of the tournament, stopped 24 of the 27 shots that came his way on the night, bringing his Beanpot save total on the year to 87. But for the second time in as many tries, the junior found himself on the losing end of the contest.
Although neither side was playing for a trophy, the consolation matchup carried significant postseason implications. The loss dropped Harvard into a tie for 17th in the Pairwise rankings, creating a major obstacle for the team in its quest for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“I think our players understood the importance of the game with the Pairwise,” Donato said. “We had already played Boston College earlier in the season, but obviously they’re a team that’s amongst the teams under consideration, as are we.”
“[The contest] has a huge impact,” York added. “This [was] a big jockey-positioning game.”
—Staff writer Jake T. Meagher can be reached at email@example.com.
—Crimson staff writer Jake Meagher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MeagherTHC.
The Rivalry Is Old, But BU Has EdgeWhen Boston University faces off against Boston College in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament Monday at the Boston
Tough Ending for Streaky HarvardThe 2008 Harvard men’s hockey team’s season was a rollercoaster. A flying start to the year that included wins over
Overheard in Minneapolis: Women's Ice Hockey's Frozen Four Press Conference
NOTEBOOK: Men's Hockey’s Beanpot Hopes Crushed by Special Teams
Massachusetts Connections Abound as Harvard, BC Meet in Worcester