Sports, Winter, Men's Hockey

No. 2 Eagles Defeat No. 20 Harvard 4–1 Behind Three Third-Period Goals

The introduction of instant replay, video review, video assistant referee (VAR)—whatever your favorite sport calls it—has been one of the biggest changes in sports in the 21st century. The retroactive changes to calls, or extended officiating, strive to get calls right, but sometimes at the cost of stopping the flow of the game.

In no game was that more apparent than in Boston College men’s hockey and Harvard’s Sunday matinee matchup at Bright-Landry Hockey Center in Cambridge, Mass. Three out of the five goals scored in the game, along with another that was called off, went to replay review, and the review time totaled about 20 minutes. Each goal was close, and both squads benefitted from the reviews.

One of these reviews came on Cutter Gauthier’s game-winning goal—not on the goal itself—but on a previous catch-and-keep-in play from Lukas Gustafsson. After about 10 minutes, the referees decided that the puck did not cross back over the blue line and Gauthier’s goal stood to put BC ahead 2–1 in the third period.

“I don’t think looking at them, even after the fact, that there was a ton of easy, obvious calls,” Harvard head coach Ted Donato said. “So all in all, I think, as a player and as a coach, you hope that they get it right.”

Thanks to a three-goal third-period outburst that started with Gauthier’s score, No. 2 BC (11–2–1, 4–1–1 Hockey East) defeated No. 20 Harvard (1–3–3, 1–2–3 ECAC) 4–1. Freshman goaltender Jacob Fowler also tallied 24 saves in the victory. 

Fowler has allowed just two goals in his last three starts.

The game got off to a sleepy start, with neither team able to score or get anything going. Harvard recorded six shots on net while BC only managed five in the first period. 

“It started like an early afternoon game, there wasn’t a lot going on,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “Most of the first two periods, a couple spurts here and there, but for the most part, it looked like there just wasn’t a ton of energy in the building.”

In contrast to the first, the second period was filled with action—and reviews. The first bit of action came at the 4:33 mark when officials waved off Gabe Perreault’s goal due to goaltender interference.

Ryan Leonard finally broke the scoreless tie with less than two minutes left in the frame on a tip, but the goal was really all Charlie Leddy. Leddy made an athletic play to keep the puck in the zone by leaping in the air and grabbing the puck against the boards. Just a few seconds later, Leddy fired a shot into traffic in front of the net, which Leonard tipped in.

“Two or three great keep-ins from the blue line,” Brown said. “It was excellent. [Jacob] Bengtsson went down right away, first shift, probably 15 seconds in, so Charlie got thrown in with a lot of ice and he responded very well.”

But just 30 seconds later, Harvard’s Zakary Karpa tipped in a puck of his own, knotting the game up 1–1 as the second period came to a close. The referees reviewed the play for interference just like Perreault’s, but determined that Karpa was out of the crease as he screened Fowler, so the goal stood.

The third period was packed with even more drama. 

Gustafsson’s keep-in led to a tic-tac-toe showing of tape-to-tape passing for BC that led to Gauthier’s goal. First, Andre Gasseau made a high-to-low pass to Oskar Jellvik, who passed it across the crease to Gauthier, who rarely misses when the goaltender is moving. Gauthier made no exception, delivering BC its second lead of the game with 11:31 left to go.

Then, Jack Malone found a streaking Colby Ambrosio just before the Harvard blue line, who charged in on net and put the puck past goaltender Derek Mullahy. The catch, however, is that Ambrosio also bowled over Mullahy and into the Harvard net in the process. This play led to another lengthy review, but it was ruled a goal, giving Ambrosio his first of the year and BC a 3–1 lead with 9:56 remaining.

“Hopefully this will get [Ambrosio] to relax, and we know he’s a good offensive player, so we’d love to see him get more consistent on the scoresheet,” Brown said.

Leonard put the cherry on top with 3:43 left thanks to a sneaky Gustafsson play. The goal marked Leonard’s ninth of the season.

“I said this after the first five games because [Leonard] had so many great chances that he just didn’t score,” Brown said. “We figured it was gonna turn for him and it has.” 

Gustafsson was serving a minor penalty for roughing, but as he came out of the box, he made a move toward the Harvard zone. Gasseau found him on a stretch pass, and Gustafsson skated in on net with Leonard to his right. Gustafsson shot for a rebound, which Leonard found to cap the game off and finish a run of three unanswered goals for BC in the third period.

“You don’t want to always have to rely on your A game to win,” Brown said. “If you play soundly, you can win with a B game or a C game by not beating yourself first, and I thought this weekend was the best we’ve had so far.”

November 26, 2023