BOSTON — Beanpot fans had to wait an extra day for the 2015 Beanpot to begin, so waiting another period-plus to find out the result seemed like nothing.
Boston University’s Danny O’Regan buried a feed from Evan Rodrigues at 2:18 over the second overtime to propel the Terriers to a 4-3 victory over Harvard in the opening semifinal of the 63rd Beanpot.
Semifinals: Feb. 3
• Third place: Boston College 3, Harvard 2 (OT)
The winning goal came after a Harvard turnover by Harvard’s Kyle Criscuolo with Rodrigues, coming off a school-record six assists on Friday against Massachusetts, reading the play then freezing Harvard netminder Steve Michalek to find O’Regan.
“I just put my head down and went to the net,” said O’Regan of the game-winner. “I knew [Rodrigues] would find me. That’s exactly what he did.”
The goal spoiled a record-setting performance by Michalek, who finished the game with 63 saves. It was not only the most saves in a Beanpot game, but it also was the most in a game by any Harvard netminder in the program’s 116-year history.
For the first time since 1983 and just the third time in the tournament’s illustrious history, the Beanpot was delayed by a day after the city of Boston was hit with more than a foot of snow. Combined with a storm the Tuesday prior and Boston accumulated more than 40 inches in the last seven days.
After weathering those storms outside the building, each team had to last through some on-ice storms at different points in Monday’s game. BU fell behind 3-1 midway through the second and survived multiple Harvard bids to extend the lead. Harvard then survived a blizzard of shots to begin the third period when the Terriers got the first 11 shots of the period over 11-plus minutes.
By game’s end, though, the Terriers held a lopsided 67-34 shot advantage, including a 60-22 margin over the game’s final 64:18.
According to BU coach David Quinn, a break midway through the second with the Terriers down two helped change the tide.
“We settled down during a TV timeout and talked about the fact you don’t need to get two goals in one shift,” said Quinn. “You just have to be more responsible and trust each other. As the second period went on, we started playing more responsible and smarter hockey.”
Boston University had opportunities to jump on top early in the game, most notably a Matt Grzelyck shot that clanged the inside of the goalpost but stayed out. And even though BU finally jumped on top at 16:50 of the first on Cason Hohmann’s fourth goal of the season, Harvard wasted little time answering on a Criscuolo marker just 1:15 later.
In the second, Harvard took control early. Just 22 seconds into the frame, Alexander Kerfoot, back after missing nine games with injury, took advantage of a BU turnover, redirecting a Criscuolo pass home for the 2-1 Crimson lead.
At 8:28 during a delayed Terrier penalty, Sean Malone one-timed a loose puck home for a 3-1 lead. The ensuing power play gave the Crimson more opportunities, but BU netidner Matt O’Connor (31 saves) was stellar keeping him team close.
That effort paid dividends before the period ended. Nikolas Olsson finished off a frenzy in front of Michalek with a shot to the top corner at 15:34. Then BU got the equalizer with 23.5 seconds remaining in the period when Ahti Oksanen blasted home his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
After BU’s early shot barrage in the third, Harvard did got its first shot at 11:15. It then fired two additional shots off the ensuing faceoff, the second from the stick of Seb Lloyd with BU netminder O’Connor down and out. The play was followed extensive video review with the puck appearing to be on top of the goaltender near – and possibly over – the goal line, but not in a conclusive position to rule a goal.
After that, the ice became balanced for the remainder of the third, each team with five shots over the final eight minutes and change.
In the first overtime, both teams had great opportunities to win the game. Michalek’s left pad robbed Rodrigues on a Jack Eichel setup at 3:02 for the Terriers and Harvard defenseman Brayden Jaw made arguably the frame’s best save when Michalek was down and out, diving in front of a wide-open shot attempt by O’Regan at 7:40.
Harvard’s bid came in the form of a breakaway for Tyler Moy. Alone from the redline in on O’Connor, Moy lost the puck as he tried to shot and by the time linemate Brian Hart fired the puck in, the net had come off its moorings.
Donato, proud of his team’s effort in the game, admitted fatigue was setting in by game’s end, particularly for Michaelek who said he was experiencing cramps in the extra frames.
“It looked to me like we ran out of gas a little bit,” said Donato. “We had a couple of our guys who haven’t played a lot recently (Kerfoot and Malone, both returning from injury). We asked a lot of [them]. Our speed was limited by us being tired.
“We had some opportunities to make the outcome different. I’m proud of our guys performed and stuck with it throughout the game.”