Sports, Top Story, Winter, Hockey, Men's Hockey

In Overtime Heartbreaker, No. 10 Harvard Outlasts BC in 2023 Beanpot Semifinals

As Boston College men’s hockey trailed No. 10 Harvard by two goals with under five minutes to play in the third period of the 2023 Beanpot semifinal, BC’s student section—who proudly cheered through almost three periods—was silent. 

That is until Nikita Nesterenko gained possession of the puck and dribbled through four Harvard players, potting the puck past Harvard goaltender Mitchell Gibson. Nesterenko’s goal with 4:02 left to play brought the Eagles within one goal, and gave life back to the crowd. 

After BC pulled goaltender Mitch Benson for an extra skater with 1:41 to play, freshman Cutter Gauthier lined up for a shot. Gauthier launched the puck past Gibson to tie the game at 3–3 and send BC’s student section into a frenzy. 

BC held the momentum heading into overtime, but with just 1.5 seconds left, Harvard stripped BC of any chance at Beanpot glory. 

Marek Hedjuk shot the puck past Benson with 1.5 second to play, and just like that—behind a chorus of bellowing fans—the Eagles (9–11–6, 5–7–5 Hockey East) dropped a heartbreaker to Harvard (16–6–1, 13–4–0 ECAC) in a 4–3 overtime loss at TD Garden. BC will play in the Beanpot consolation game on Monday, Feb 13.  

“We definitely let an opportunity slip by,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. 

After the first puck drop, It took just seconds for the Crimson to display its offensive prowess. Puck handling in the offensive zone, Harvard center John Farinacci sent a pass to defenseman Jack Bar, who slotted a wrist shot into the back of the net just 51 seconds into the game. 

While the goal was overturned after officials determined Harvard had too many men on the ice, the message was clear—Harvard was playing quickly and with aggression. 

“Obviously wasn’t the start we wanted,” Brown said. “Harvard was the much faster team in the first period. They pinned us in our zone, most of the first. We were fortunate the goal got called back. It was basically just weathering the storm in the first.” 

After an exchange of possessions, the Crimson found another opening 11:25 into the period. Casey Severo led the puck directly to the right wing, where Hejduk received the puck and chipped it over Benson’s left shoulder to give Harvard a 1–0 lead. 

The second period started with a BC power play. Officials called freshman defenseman Lukas Gustafsson for holding just over a minute into the period, and Harvard wasted no time taking advantage of being a man up. 

Matthew Coronato—who ranks third on the Crimon’s roster in points this season—fired a one-timer right above Benson’s blocker to extend the Crimson’s lead to 2–0. 

Just under six minutes into the second frame, officials sent Harvard’s Mason Langenbrunner to the box for goaltender interference after he collided with Benson. Benson was visibly shaken up after the play but remained in the game, and the Eagles went on their first man advantage of the contest. 

Shortly before the penalty expired, Mike Posma notched BC’s first goal of the game to bring the Eagles within one. Posma tapped in the goal at the right post after Gustafsson cradled the puck toward the crease. 

Just two minutes later, officials called Coronato for boarding, marking Harvard’s second penalty of the period. 

But the Eagles’ power play was cut short, as officials called Colby Ambrosio for hooking, causing BC to lose seven seconds of the power play and gifting the Crimson a power play of its own. 

Harvard did not let this chance go to waste, as Coronato—fresh out of the box—slammed home his second goal of the night, putting the Crimson up 3–1 with less than eight minutes left in the second period. 

Despite the deficit, the Eagles stormed out in the third frame looking for more, launching 11 total shots in Gibson’s direction within the first five minutes of play.

After peppering Gibson with shot after shot—the Eagles outshot Harvard 48–25 in the game—BC finally broke through with Nesterenko’s slippery goal. And just moments later—after recording just two goals in his past seven games—Gauthier took the shot that was heard throughout the entire arena, on Boston’s biggest stage. 

“When you’re behind, you’re always a little more desperate,” Brown said. “It’s an easier place to come from to play that kind of hockey.” 

The Eagles entered overtime with momentum, coming off a game-altering, two-goal third period with the support of a deafening student section. 

“Third period we got our legs moving, did a much better job sustaining offense, keeping pucks in the zone, and, you know, we’re able to come back with a good push,” Brown said.

For the majority of overtime, both teams failed to convert on their 3-on-3 matchups. 

But the Crimson regained possession of the puck after BC rushed toward Havard’s net, and

there was just one man for Alex Laferriere and Hejduk to beat. With less than five seconds to go, Lafferriere fed Hejduk the puck with a cross-ice pass, and Hejduk slotted home the game-winner, as BC students returned to silence and filed out of TD Garden. 

“Overtime is overtime,” Brown said. “You know, we gotta manage the clock. We gave up a two on one [in] the last shift of regulation and then again in overtime and you just can’t do that. … It’s been too many times [we] are excited about the push we made in the third, but we have to be more consistent with that kind of hockey.”

February 6, 2023