With Thatcher Demko sick and Brian Billett on personal leave, Boston College men’s hockey needed Brad Barone to hold his own in his first collegiate start. He did, and BC still let up five non-empty net goals. If Barone played to his experience level, the Eagles could have lost by near double digits. Harvard outshot BC 10-3 in the first period and Barone surrendered just a power-play snipe and a clean Harvard breakaway. He also rejected two Crimson breakaways on the same Eagles power play early in the second, and BC scored just after that man advantage ended to make it 2-1.
“[Barone] did a nice job tonight,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “That was a very difficult situation to put him in on short notice … I admired the way Brad played. I told the team that too. That was a really good effort in a difficult, difficult situation.”
Harvard’s first line of Jimmy Vesey, Alexander Kerfoot, and Kyle Criscuolo combined for 10 points, and one of them had a point on every Crimson goal. “Our best players were our best players,” said head coach Ted Donato. Demko is BC’s best player, but beyond him, the Eagles’ best players should be in their defense. With Demko out, the defense needed to prop up Barone. The opposite happened, and BC’s best player, defenseman and captain Mike Matheson, was at his worst on Tuesday, finishing with a reflective minus-3 rating. Matheson led the way for a defense that turned the puck over in its own zone and gave up odd man rushes all night long.
Barone bailed his captain out in the game’s opening minutes when Matheson brought the puck in front of the net and turned it over his own crease. Harvard couldn’t hack it by Barone, but Matheson gave them a much easier chance late in the first when he telegraphed a D-to-D pass to Scott Savage at his own blue line. Criscuolo picked it off and walked into BC’s zone and buried what resembled a penalty shot.
“We were too quick with the puck, we gotta get back to the fundamentals,” York said.
Junior defenseman Teddy Doherty generated two assists through his aggressiveness, which led to some odd man rushes for Harvard the other way, too. That’s his game, but he left Barone hanging by not sticking to that game, and it led to Harvard’s dagger fourth goal. Doherty didn’t pinch on a loose puck along the boards in Harvard’s zone, but didn’t retreat either. Criscuolo chipped it into the neutral zone and flew into BC’s, sending a pass off Matheson’s skate. Matheson, not to be outdone, couldn’t clear the puck, nor did he move Phil Zeilonka out of the crease. Zeilonka jammed it past the helpless Barone.
“Our D corps is the strength of our team, it still is the strength of our team,” York said. “I like our D, when you talk about D zone and giving up goals, it’s really six men involved, so I’ve been pleased with our defense.”
York also pointed to Steve Santini’s injury when addressing the defense’s play, calling him “Our best defender.” Santini would have helped Tuesday, and this recent stretch of play on the back end only confirms York’s assessment, but Santini would have had to been a cross between Zdeno Chara and Chris Chelios on Tuesday night to give Barone the kind of debut that his play merited.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor