All year long, this game has been circled, starred, and underlined with an arrow pointing to it in sharpie for the Eagles.
BC's game with Harvard in the Beanpot, a matchup that ends up happening most seasons like BC/BU does in men's hockey, always seems to have NCAA tournament implications. Harvard's early season winning streak propelling them to #2 in the nation, ahead of BC for much of the year, meant it would mean just a little extra this time around.
Harvard has tripped up just a bit since that initial run, falling to #5 in the Pairwise rankings, but with the difference between 2-5 in the standings razor thin -- the difference between home ice in the NCAA tournament and not at 4-5, and the difference between avoiding Minnesota until the NCAA finals or not between 3-4 -- Tuesday came around with the game every bit as important as expected.
The game itself certainly didn't disappoint. It played out exactly -- and I mean exactly -- how you could have predicted it. Harvard is known for its defense, giving up just 0.90 goals per game this year coming into the contest, and a low scoring affair seemed to be in order.
And low scoring it would be. The game went scoreless into the third period until Harvard's Mary Parker scored 5 minutes in to put the Crimson up 1-0 on a sloppy goal. The puck was JUST out of reach of BC goalie Corinne Boyles, and Parker flipped it up over the sprawling Eagle 'tender.
But the Eagles responded. Just two and a half minutes later, BC executed a textbook one-timer when Emily Field threaded a perfect saucer pass from deep into the corner onto the waiting stick of Dana Trivigno in the slot. Trivigno rifled home the equalizer for her eleventh tally of the year.
The game would stay knotted at 1 until just 3:48 remaining in the game. The Eagles had just killed a penalty a minute or so beforehand, and Lexi Bender got possession of the puck at the left point. Unmarked, she started skating in toward the goaltender and Harvard apparently thought she wasn't a threat or something, because she made it all the way to Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmeyer (I absolutely had to copy and paste that name) before even getting touched. Taylor Waslyk put home a rebound sending the Eagles bench into a frenzy.
Harvard's late push to tie the game came up short as BC did a masterful job of keeping the Crimson from having any meaningful chances, and the game would end 2-1.
The Eagles will now face Northeastern next Tuesday night at Matthews Arena, after the Huskies took down the #3 ranked Terriers (HAHAHAHAHAHA) by a score of 4-1 in the evening semifinal in what was a pretty big upset.
BC further tightened its grasp on the #2 spot in the Pairwise rankings, while Harvard held steady at #5 and BU dropped from #3 to #4.
- BC didn't have a single power play chance on the day. Harvard played disciplined hockey, though the refs did appear to swallow the whistles a bit in the game -- which made for a very entertaining contest.
- More importantly, BC only had three penalties. This was partially because of the refs swallowing their whistles, but it was still good to see. One penalty in particular, the one late in the third, was a necessary one after a turnover in the slot gave Harvard an excellent scoring chance. BC takes quite a few penalties and it has, at times, kept lesser teams in games. BC can match up with almost anyone 5 on 5, and are far and away the best power play team in Hockey East. They need to continue to stay out of the box.
- Skarupa is back! After missing the last 4 games with a separated shoulder, the freshman phenom was back on the Eagles' top line. Her presence was defnitely missed, as Skarupa was creating plays like she hadn't even left. Having her back was absolutely necessary if BC wants to make a run at the undefeated Gophers and the National Championship. #Skarupacalifragilisticexpialidocious
The Eagles take on the Friars Saturday at 7pm at Schneider Arena in Providence before next week's Beanpot final.