Top Story, Men's Hockey

Eagles Have 10-Game Unbeaten Streak Snapped by Harvard

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Boston College men’s hockey got its 10-game unbeaten streak snapped because the Eagles didn’t capitalize on their chances and gave Harvard too many of them. Despite their No. 3 ranking, the Eagles couldn’t afford to give up an excess of power plays on the road against a Harvard team that converts on one of every four man advantages. Yet the Eagles took too many penalties, again, and the No. 11 Crimson responded by chasing BC’s normally-stellar freshman goalie Joe Woll en route to a 5-2 win on Friday night.

“I thought Harvard played better than we did tonight,” head coach Jerry York said. “They were just a little more intense, a little quicker than we were. The game changed so much in the beginning of the third period.”

The eye-patched, 1,000-game winner is right. Down 2-1, BC (10-3-1, 5-0-1 Hockey East) let the game get away from it when its two stars, Colin White and Ryan Fitzgerald, were both sent off within the first two minutes of the last period. The Crimson (5-1-1, 2-1-1 ECAC) immediately poured in two power-play goals, with Luke Esposito fighting through a scrum for a rebound tally. That gave Harvard a two-goal lead before Tyler Moy beat Woll top-shelf short side to put the Crimson up three. Sixteen seconds later, Sean Malone banged in another rebound at even strength to end Woll’s, and effectively BC’s, night.

“It happens,” Harvard head coach Ted Donato said of Harvard’s three goals in 49 seconds. “We’ve been on the other end of that too. I thought that it was a great atmosphere, and sometimes that momentum gets going and our guys were hungry around the net and we got some second and third opportunities. You never expect it but you certainly hope for it.”

The final score belies how this game was in BC’s grasp. Both teams had their chances in the first period, but the Eagles had better ones. BC had White streaking down the right side on a few rushes, but each time his teammates couldn’t feed their first-line center the puck in time to make a play. Crimson goalie Merrick Madsen also stood up big time on a BC 5-on-3 to end the period.

“They had us on our heels a bit early in the game, but we stuck with it,” Donato said. “Give them a lot of credit. They forced us to a better job defending than we had to throughout the year.”

The Crimson flipped the tide in the second stanza. BC’s Christopher Brown backhanded a rebound past Madsen halfway through the second, but Harvard’s two following goals were more representative of the run of play. Harvard threw 19 shots on goal in the second, and though Woll kept Ryan Donato and the rest of Harvard’s attack at bay for the most part with his elite size and positioning, Alexander Kerfoot finally broke the dam by scrounging together a backdoor goal on the power play to tie it up. Woll then misplayed a behind the net puck a few minutes later and it ended up in his net. The Dardenne Prairie, Mo. native claimed that he was interfered with on the go-ahead goal, but the officials disagreed upon replay review.

For the Eagles, they’ll need to figure out a way to handle the big boys by staying out of the penalty box. Their 10-game unbeaten streak came largely against unranked opponents—only No. 14 Providence found its way into the USCHO polls—and now there is a rougher stretch of foes on the horizon. If they’re anything like Harvard, BC is in for a rough time.

“They’re very good on the power play,” York said. “They make you pay for taking penalties.”

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

November 19, 2016