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Harvard, Boston College Advance in Beanpot

by Angela Stefano / Boston Bruins
Game One: Harvard 3, Northeastern 1, Final

Boston, MA -- The TDBanknorth Garden fortified its claim as the center of the Hub of Hockey last night, as it hosted the nation’s most renowned collegiate in-season tournament. The first round of the 56th annual Beanpot Tournament saw Boston’s Best fighting for bragging rights and the pride that comes with the title of Beanpot Champions.

The 13th-seated Northeastern University Huskies met the Harvard University Crimson for the 10th straight year in the Beanpot during the night’s first game and although their fans were being out-cheered by those in the makeshift NU Dog House, the unranked Crimson put the Huskies behind, 3-0, in the first period. 

Center Paul Default scored the first goal of the night, netting the puck over NU’s Brad Thiessen’s glove hand off a pass from right-winger Jon Pelle.

With a little help from Steve Rolecek, Crimson captain Mike Taylor put Harvard up 2-0 with a puck stuffed into the short side of the net at 6:29.

“That was just part of our forecheck,” Taylor said.  “We always try to forecheck teams hard, that’s one of the strengths of our team.

“That is the result of staying off the guy and taking the puck to the net.  Which is something we did pretty well tonight.”

Less than a minute later, Doug Rogers capitalized on a rebound from a shot by left-winger Alex Meintel, closing the scoring for the period.

“[The seniors] especially, we really wanted this tonight, probably more than any game in my career, and we were able to get that through to the younger guys and come out with a good team effort,” Taylor said.

Both teams played a physical, penalty-marred first 20 minutes and he Crimson garnered three penalties, while the Huskies were assessed two more.

The second period saw the Crimson defending their lead with a smart, tightly checked, hockey game. At the close of 40 minutes, Harvard had vastly outshot the Huskies, with 31 shots on goal to NU’s 12.

“We didn’t want to jumpstart their offense, so we were determined not to turn the puck over,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato.

“I give them a lot of credit,” said Norteastern head coach Greg Cronin after the game.  “They played a very smart game.

“They didn’t give us a lot of scoring chances.  They were fundamentally sound in the defensive zone.”

It was the goalies who really got to show off their skills during the period.

Perhaps energized by the previous period, Thiessen robbed the Crimson of a goal at 1:29 with a quick skate-to-post move that kept his cage puck-free. Then, Harvard goalie Kyle Richter defended his shutout against a shot at 17:15 from Northeastern left-winger Ryan Ginand with a nice pad stop.

“Our defensive did an outstanding job,” said Coach Donato.  “Although Kyle may have not faced a great number of shots, I don’t think there is any question that he had two or three big saves for us to keep us in the position that we were.”

Ginand had his revenge, however, when, off a pass from Taylor, he finally pushed the puck into Richter’s net with just under 30 seconds left, making the score 3-1.

The third period was uneventful until, on a point-blank power play shot from Northeastern’s Tyler McNeely, Richter made an incredible paddle save with 14:44 left on the clock.

Defending a two-goal lead, Harvard continued with their conservative style of play. They minimized mistakes in their own end and made it difficult for Northeastern to get across the blue line and outlasting NU to complete a 3-1 victory.

“They were passing real hard from the beginning, and they were able to get their chances in,” said Thiessen.  “They went to the net real hard and played a great game.”

Next Monday will be Harvard’s first Beanpot championship game in 10 years.  The Crimson last won the trophy in 1993.
Game Two: Boston College 4, Boston University 3, Final OT

Boston, MA -- The second game of the night pitted the 2007 Beanpot Champion Boston University Terriers against their rival Boston College Eagles for the 19th time in the first round of the Beanpot.

Just 4:40 into the first period, Terrier John McCarthy took advantage of a rebound off his first shot, getting the puck past Eagles goalie John Muse to put BU up 1-0.

The game was chippy from the get-go, and a scuffle in front of the players’ boxes even before the halfway point led to penalties for roughing for both teams.

A five-on-three in favor of BC ensued after another penalty to the Terriers, and at 9:54, Anthony Aiello put the Eagles on the board to tie the game at one.

Unhappy with a tie score, center Benn Ferriero netted the puck once more a mere 10 seconds later to put the Eagles in the lead, 2-1.

Goalie Brett Bennett kept the Terrier net safe for the rest of the period, most spectacularly against a breakaway shot from BC’s Matt Lombardi.

Just 1:41 into the second period, Muse stopped a BU shot from the faceoff circle to his right, diving to the ice in a scrambling save.

But at 3:30, just under two minutes later, center Nick Bonino used a pass from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to tie the game at two, tripping over a BC player in his post-goal excitement.

With a BC player in the box for charging, BU’s Pete MacArthur capitalized on the man advantage, putting the Terriers up 3-2 with 11:16 left to play and ending the scoring for the period.

Early in the third period, BC’s Nathan Gerbe found a loose puck in front of the Terriers net, stuffing it through Bennett’s pads to tie the game at three.

BU dodged a bullet when a power play goal for the Eagles at 5:19, scored by Andrew Orpik, was disallowed upon review because teammate Brian Gibbons entered the Terriers crease before the puck.

“I didn’t have much room to operate in there, and I thought it was going to be a goal,” said Bennett after the game.  “It really helped me out mentally [that it wasn’t a goal], just the thought that we still had a shot at winning.”

“We clearly thought there was going to be a goal for us,” said BC head coach Jerry York.  “When it goes the other way, your reaction sometimes can be a real downer, but our team actually came on from that point on.”

As the final 20 minutes of regulation wore on, the play got desperate and the saves got fancier. At the end of 60 minutes, the game was headed into sudden-death overtime for the 20th time in Beanpot history.

Hard-hitting play and great saves continued from both teams in the extra session, until a defensive breakdown on the BU end left Gerbe wide open in front of the Terrier net.

He gathered a pass from Gibbons and, at 7:15 in OT, sniped it home for the win to send his team to the Beanpot Championship for the 28th time.

“It was a quick shot at the net, and Gibbons did a great job at deflecting the puck across the hash marks there, and I just tried to shoot the puck as quick as possible,” Gerbe said.

“It was a tough goal,” Bennett said.  “It hurts, obviously, because you want to be in there for the guys and give them a win and not give up a goal in overtime.”

“To advance past [BU was] a hard, hard chore in front of our team,” York said.  “I was very impressed with how hard they played.”

“You get what you deserve sometimes, and I think BC deserved to win tonight,” Terriers head coach Jack Parker said.
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