Boston College men’s hockey took on Harvard University in a Beanpot semifinal game on Feb. 1. Each team was whistled for two penalties, but BC managed to convert on both power play opportunities and limit Harvard each time. It was a tight game, but after 60 minutes of competitive hockey, BC claimed a 3-2 victory to advance to its ninth Beanpot final of the last 11 tournaments.
Main Takeaways from the Game
Resiliency: The Eagles struck first when Casey Fitzgerald slipped a shot past Harvard’s Merrick Madsen less than two minutes into the first period. BC didn’t celebrate for long, however, as the rest of the first period would be largely dominated by the Crimson. Just under 10 minutes into the period, Ryan Donato netted the equalizer on a breakaway. Five minutes later, freshman Adam Baughman scored his first collegiate goal to give the Crimson a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
But the Eagles showed their resilience in the second period, coming out fired up and ready to play. BC took advantage of Harvard’s first two penalties of the game, scoring on both power plays to reclaim the lead. In the third period, they bounced back from a slashing call on Austin Cangelosi and killed the penalty without any real danger to preserve their 3-2 lead. In the final minutes of play, Harvard desperately tried to even the score, launching shots at Demko and keeping the pressure on. So far this season, BC has had some shaky third periods. The team has erased multiple-goal deficits to win games. It’s squandered multiple-goal leads to lose games. Against Harvard, the Eagles didn’t falter. They put pressure on Madsen and kept up the defensive intensity.
Winning the Special Teams Battle: Penalties and power plays ended up determining the outcome of the game. BC’s victory stems directly from its ability to take advantage of its own power plays while killing Harvard’s.
Coming into the night, Harvard averaged an 85.5 percent kill rate and an impressive 31.9 percent power play percentage. BC had an 86.1 percent kill rate and converted on 19.6 percent of their power plays. Based on these statistics, some might think Harvard would score power play goals on the Eagles. Instead, the Eagles won the special teams battle. Each team committed two penalties, but BC killed both of Harvard’s power plays and scored on both of its own.
Harvard coach Ted Donato praised BC for its special teams play.
“They won the special teams game going two-for-two on the power play,” he said. “They did a good job against our power play, which has been pretty successful all year … I give BC a lot of credit for that.”
Van Kula Suited Up: BC’s backup goaltenders haven’t been able to stay healthy this season. Concussions and ligament injuries have limited the playing time of Chris Birdsall, Alex Joyce, and Ian Milosz. Roughly half an hour before the start of the game, college hockey journalist Scott McLaughlin tweeted that BC’s backup goalie would be Chuck Van Kula, a student manager.
Van Kula, a freshman, played high school hockey at St. Joseph’s Prep in Pennsylvania before becoming a manager of the varsity hockey team at BC. He did suit up for the game, and Jerry York said that he was ready to go in if Demko sustained an injury.
“It’s either him or me,” York joked.
Crowd Control: As the minutes trickled down toward the start of the first period, waves of Eagles fans made their way to their seats. Harvard’s student section remained almost completely empty. By the time the puck dropped, the BC faithful were loud and rowdy, while Harvard had only a handful of fans on its side. The lack of a strong fan presence is typical for Harvard, especially for the early game of the Beanpot, and the imbalance between the student sections was notable all night. Throughout the game, Eagles fans made their presence known. They often broke out into choruses of “Let’s go Eagles” and “We are—BC!”
During breaks in play, the fans cheered raucously when people in BC gear were shown on the Jumbotron, and TD Garden was filled with booing when Harvard fans got screen time. Several times throughout the night, the Harvard marching band chanted “Let’s go Harvard!” Whenever this happened, the BC student section immediately drowned them out with a louder chorus of “Let’s go Eagles!” After BC’s three goals, its fans’ cheering filled the entire Garden with noise. The overwhelming support from the student section created an atmosphere similar to Kelley Rink, and this Beanpot semifinal game almost felt like a true home game for the Eagles.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor