Losing the first round of the Beanpot left a sour taste in the mouths of Boston College men’s hockey, so they were sure to make the most of a consolation matchup against a much lower-ranked Harvard. And a four-goal second period did just that for No. 7 BC as it took home third place in the Beanpot with an emphatic 7-2 win over the No. 18 Crimson.
Though the Eagles (17-8-1, 10-6-0 Hockey East) ended with a dominant scoreline, they weren’t always so sure of a win. Harvard (11-8-4, 9-4-3 ECAC) struck gold right away when Matt Boldy went to the box two minutes in, and the Crimson peppered Spencer Knight with shot after shot on the power play. Harvard’s persistence finally paid off as Casey Dornbach scored his 11th goal of the season to give the Crimson a quick one-point lead.
But after last week’s disappointing finishes, the Eagles desperately needed to turn things around. Similarly to the Eagles’ last meeting with the Crimson, BC was in search of a come-from-behind finish to earn a much-needed victory.
BC nearly countered right away, but Harvard goaltender Mitchell Gibson got in the way with his right pad to keep the Crimson in the lead. But the near-miss seemed to be all BC needed to stoke the flames under the Eagles’ skates, and just minutes later, Julius Mattila handed it off to captain David Cotton, who fired past Gibson to tie the game at one apiece. With his assist, Mattila became the 82nd member of BC’s 100-point club.
The score stayed level for most of the first period until BC finally took its first lead with under two minutes to go in the frame. Jack McBain took a shot that looked as though it would go far wide of the goal until the stick of Harvard’s Marshall Rifai got in the way and the puck hit twine once again heading into the first intermission.
Even after the exciting final-minute goal for the Eagles before the break, the start of the second period looked as though it would be as uneventful as the first 10 minutes of the game. But Logan Hutsko was determined to energize the threadbare crowd. Five minutes into the second frame, Hutsko snuck a backhander behind Gibson, and the Eagles took a familiar 3-1 lead.
Unlike the Eagles’ 3-1 lead in their last Beanpot matchup, this one stuck, and Harvard stayed at arm’s length for the rest of the night.
For a moment, though, it seemed as though Harvard would have a chance to close the gap. Graham McPhee went to the box, and the Eagles’ penalty kill unit faced the top-scoring power play unit in the nation for the first time in the period.
Unfortunately for Harvard, though, the Crimson power play unit was no match for the Eagles, who lead the nation in shorthanded goals with 11. First, Alex Newhook, the Hockey East co-rookie of the week, earned a tally on a shorthanded breakaway with 7:38 left in the frame. Then, just over a minute later, when the penalty-kill clock had two seconds left, McBain tapped the puck in from the slot to take a dominant 5-1 lead and blow the match wide open.
But Harvard wasn’t ready to give up yet, and 13 seconds after McBain’s second goal, R.J. Murphy cut the Eagles’ lead to three. Then, just as the final period expired, BC took back its four-point lead as Boldy hit a one-timer from Newhook.
Even with a significant lead, the Eagles kept up a high-pressure offense, spending much of the final period in the Crimson zone. McPhee set the tone for the period as his shot rang off the pipe just two minutes into the frame, and BC never stopped looking for the back of the net.
BC iced the game as the freshman line showed off, and Mike Hardman hammered home a pass from Boldy, earning the 2019 12th overall draft pick a multi-point night.
The Crimson penalty kill unit looked like a new team in the final minutes of the matchup as two Harvard players shared the box with three minutes to go, and BC had a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. Harvard packed its weakened defense behind the puck, though, and the Eagles couldn’t capitalize any more on the night.
Though the Eagles didn’t get to play in the title game as they had hoped, a dominant performance over a ranked team is beneficial for seeding in the postseason.
“We’re disappointed we’re not playing for the trophy at 8 o’clock tonight—we don’t want to shy away from that fact—but that’s what we want to do: win trophies,” said Eagles’ head coach Jerry York after the game. “We’ve got those two goals: win trophies in our own league, but we’re also trying to qualify for the national tournament.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor