When the Terriers (8-16-4, 3-8-3 Hockey East) fell to Harvard University 6-2, they finished fourth in the Beanpot in consecutive years for the first time in school history. It was only their seventh-ever fourth-place finish, three of which have come in the past four seasons.
With the loss, the Terriers still only have one win since the end of November and have not beaten Harvard (8-12-3) since the 2011-12 season. BU had kept it close with No. 1 Boston College in the Beanpot semifinal and tied then-No. 7 University of Massachusetts-Lowell in its past two games, but it did not bring the same intensity it showed in those two games on Monday night.
“I wasn’t expecting this today because we’ve been going in the right direction in the last two-and-a-half weeks, three weeks,” said BU coach David Quinn. “This is disappointing.”
Junior forward Evan Rodrigues put the Terriers on the board first a little more than 10 minutes into the game when he one-timed a quick pass from freshman center Robbie Baillargeon past Harvard goaltender Steve Michalek. It was Rodrigues’ third goal of the season – and first since Dec. 7 at Merrimack College.
“I think I’ve been playing better as of late,” Rodrigues said. “The chances are coming, it’s just not going in. You can’t really get down on yourself, you just have to keep going. Tonight one went in the net, and maybe next time it doesn’t.”
However, things took a big turn in Harvard’s favor after the first period. Sophomore Kyle Criscuolo, who was robbed by sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire at the end of the first, got his revenge a little over a minute into the second frame when he ripped a slap shot off the post and in on the rush. It was Criscuolo’s 11th goal of the season and it was the first of a scoring barrage from Harvard in the frame.
Right winger Brian Hart added a tally of his own with Baillargeon skating gingerly to the bench at the other end, by taking a loose puck in the slot and quickly snapping it between Maguire’s pads a little over two minutes later.
Baillargeon missed a few shifts with an apparent injury, but would later return to the game.
Before the midway point in the period, center Luke Esposito added a goal of his own and the Crimson took control of the game. Harvard outshot BU 20-11 in the period and had outshot BU 30-16 at the end of two.
Rodrigues was a part of the offense again just before the midway point in the third period, when he found trailing sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen in the slot for Oksanen’s sixth goal of the season. Oksanen added to his lead in points for BU and now has 21 on the season.
The Terriers were not even within one goal for a minute before Esposito found the scoreboard again, this time scoring on a pass that tipped off senior defenseman Patrick MacGregor’s stick and into the top corner. It was Esposito’s second goal of the game and it was a stroke of bad luck for BU’s captain.
“In my lifetime I might have done that maybe three times and I have been playing hockey for 20 years,” MacGregor said. “We were kind of on a roll there and we might have tied the game up and I kind of deflated the bench a little bit because it is kind of a freak play, but it happens, I guess.”
Left winger Jimmy Vesey added an empty-net goal from behind his own blue line and center Tyler Moy tipped a goal past senior goalie Anthony Moccia, who came in for the final few minutes of the game.
BU’s power play went 0-for-2 on the night, and has now failed to capitalize on its last 23 opportunities with a man advantage.
“We’re half a second slow on shooting the puck, we’re half a second slow on getting to the net for the rebound, we’re half a second slow screening the goalie,” Quinn said. “We’re just … especially tonight, I think tonight reflected our game in general. I just think we’re not quick enough to do anything.”
BU is now 1-4 against Harvard all time in the Beanpot consolation game, which is the only losing record BU has against any opponent in any round of the tournament. It has lost its last two Beanpot matchups against Harvard and has not beaten the Crimson in any game since the Beanpot semifinal in 2012.
“They just have our number and you can look at different things, different reasons why,” Rodrigues said. “It just comes down to winning and losing, and we have to find a way to get it done.”