Both Boston University and Harvard are in the midst of disappointing seasons. BU started the season strong, defeating several high profile out of conference opponents but fell to pieces come late November, while Harvard couldn't get anything going in any aspect of their game, flopping along to a mere four wins.
Both teams found themselves in the Beanpot consolation game early Monday evening, looking for a win to breathe life into their struggling seasons. And the team least favored to do so, the team that possibly needed the win most to keep going, got the win.
Harvard notched only their fifth win of the season with a 5-4 win over BU in the Beanpot, regulating the Terriers to their first fourth place finish in the February classic since 1980.
"I thought that was a embarrassing display by my team tonight," lamented veteran BU head coach Jack Parker post-game. "Give Harvard credit for not dieing after all they have been through this year. They came back and won the game and they competed right to the end. We didn't compete anywhere near as much as we should have."
The beginning of the game didn't start out disappointing for BU, who notched a power play goal just around six minutes into the first period. Sophomore wing Alex Chiasson scored his eleventh goal of the season to get the Terriers on the board 1-0. BU would maintain a 1-0 lead though they lacked the speed and attack of previous nights, and gave Harvard three man-advantages in the frame.
The Crimson began the second down a man for a five minute major at the close of the first, but didn't seem phased by the challenge. With seconds left on BU's power play, junior forward Alex Killorn scored to get the Crimson on the scoreboard and tie the game at one all. Harvard kept attacking, and caught Terrier junior goaltender Kieran Millan defenseless to score two very quick goals - one by junior defenseman Ryan Grimshaw, the other by Killorn again. In just over a minute's time, Harvard had given themselves a 3-1 lead over BU.
After a timeout to regroup and assistance from a Harvard penalty, BU knotted things up with two quick goals from freshmen defenseman. Garrett Noonan scored on a shot to the left side of Crimson goaltender Ryan Carroll, and Adam Clendening netted one 40 seconds later.
Spending most of the third knotted up, Chiasson put BU ahead with his second goal of the evening with just over five minutes left in the game. Catching the Terriers falling back with a 4-3 lead, Harvard stormed down the ice and made use of several BU turnovers to tie the game 4-4 with a Danny Biega goal about two minutes later. Junior defenseman Peter Starett, who had the secondary assist on Biega's goal, then set up senior winger Michael Del Mauro to score the game winner at the 17:52 mark of the third. The two assists on crucial third period goals were Starett's first two assists of the season, and they came at a great time for the Crimson.
Harvard goalie Carroll ended the night with only his second win in goal this season, stopping a Terrier duluge and making 41 saves. BU goalie Millan stopped 19 shots.
BU's post-season hopes deflated with the loss to the unranked Harvard squad. They drop to 17 in the national Pairwise rankings, the standings used to determine NCAA tournament seeding. Teams want to be in the top 16 to have a chance at making the tournament without winning their league championship. BU will have a tough time battling back into that sweet sixteen given that they close the regular season playing all unranked teams.
"This was, as far as the NCAA Tournament selection process is concerned, a huge loss for us," said Parker after the game.
For the Crimson, they know they may not be spending much time in the post-season, but the third place Beanpot finish may make the remainder of the season that much easier.
"It hasn't been pretty even when we have played well, but I give the guys a lot of credit," said a content Harvard head coach Ted Donato. "I think the group has really done a great job of working hard and staying with it. I think there is a lot of optimism for the end of the season."