From the point, BC defenseman Isaac MacLeod fires on net only to be blocked by Harvard’s Raphael Girard, who has already stopped 14 more attempts like it.
During the first period, shot after shot went on net to no avail. The BC student section, which had let out a roar as MacLeod’s shot was released, quieted again as the rebound strayed behind the net.
Waiting for it, however, is BC’s Bill Arnold who, bringing it back around in front, crosses the puck to BC sophomore Quinn Smith’s waiting stick. The pass is too quick for Girard to follow, and less than a second later the BC student section is on its feet again, this time praising BC’s second goal of the night.
Though Harvard came into Monday night’s Beanpot final as the presumed underdog, strong goaltending from Girard managed to stall the BC offense until late in the second period.
The game started off well for Harvard, as the Crimson managed to fire off five shots on goal before BC had its first, and maintained control of the puck for around half of the first period. It took over nine minutes for the Eagles to get their first shot on goal.
It took BC into the 14th minute of the period to even up the shot count, but even through the increase in Eagle offense, Girard stayed steady. A couple big chances came for BC forward Johnny Gaudreau, who leads the Eagles in goals and points so far this season. With six minutes remaining in the period, Girard struggled to hold on to the puck and made himself vulnerable for a rebound, leaving the Harvard goalie sprawled. Somehow, on his stomach, Girard managed to hold on, keeping the Eagles scoreless.
Harvard had scoring chances, but each time the Crimson managed to break through the Eagle defense, Parker Milner was ready for them. Quick responses from the BC offense made the game into a sequence of swift, back and forth action.
With just over three minutes remaining in the first period, Harvard’s Brendan Rempel was put in the penalty box for two minutes on a holding call, but the Eagles were unable to come away with a power play goal. Seconds after the power play ended though, Patrick Wey took a shot from the point that rebounded off of Girard right back to Smith, who scored the first BC goal of the night from just outside of the crease with less than a minute remaining in the period.
The end of the first left the Eagles up by only one. Though Harvard had had the strong start, the Eagles ended up nearly doubling their shot count by the end of the period. Girard had 14 saves.
It was during the second period that BC managed to exercise some power over Harvard. Though the Crimson continued to have a few chances in the period, they were held to only six shots on goal in a strong defensive effort by the Eagles.
As the period progressed the action escalated, a surprisingly tough Harvard team trying to play to one of BC’s weaknesses: its physicality. With just under nine minutes left in the period, a Girard save quickly escalated into a scrum in front of the net.
Despite the intensified play, it appeared that the period would end scoreless, Harvard holding off two BC power plays and the Eagles killing one of their own. That is, however, until with less than two minutes to go Smith got his second of the night with the rebound goal off of Arnold’s cross. With his second goal of the night and first multiple goal collegiate game, Smith equaled his total scoring from the entire season.
Less than a minute later, another Eagle goal came from freshman defenseman Michael Matheson, adding to the crop of young players putting up points on the greater stage that is the Beanpot. The Eagles ended the period with a 3-0 lead.
In the final segment of play, Harvard came out with more pressure and was able to spend more time in the BC zone towards the beginning of the period, but they struggled to find openings. Over the course of the first ten minutes, they had only three shots on goal, the third of which, put on target by Danny Biega, slipped past Milner for Harvard’s first and only goal of the night.
True to the pattern, however, BC responded with one final goal of its own, this time by Steven Whitney, to solidify the BC victory with just over five minutes remaining.
Though the score did not go in their favor, there was a definite bright spot on the night for Harvard. Girard had 42 saves. His effort throughout the night did not go unnoticed. BC head coach Jerry York lauded his performance post game.
“We see some terrific goaltenders,” he said. “It’s never going to be easy to score goals.They make some unbelievable stops, which I think Girard did tonight. He was really very effective. Probably the most shots we’ve had for a while, but he kept the game right within reach for Harvard.”
York was proud of his team, especially Smith, a young member of the squad whose third and fourth goals of the season put the Eagles in position for the win.
“He’s a meat and potatoes, hard nosed player,” he said. “You definitely need a lot of those on your team. You need some real grinders. Every game, he gives an all out effort.”
It was not one player, however, that York credited the game to. “I thought our team played well, our PK, our power play, and a nice goal from Mike Matheson,” he said.
With the first round over, York summed up the team’s feelings on the semifinal win. “Were excited about our advancement in the Beanpot and getting a chance to play for the trophy next Monday.”
With Northeastern topping BU 3-2 earlier in the evening on a hat trick from another young player, Kevin Roy, the stage is set for a battle next Monday.
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