For much of the 2014-15 campaign for the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team, the story has been the same: Play with undying determination and tenacity, even when faced with a deficit.
BU (17-4-4, 11-2-2 Hockey East) head coach David Quinn echoed that sentiment after his team knocked off No. 4/6 Harvard University in double overtime of the 63rd Beanpot Tournament semifinal on Tuesday at TD Garden, 4-3. So when it took more than 22 minutes of extra time to knock off the Crimson (12-6-2), it was the latest chapter — a fitting one — in the Terriers’ wild season.
“A phenomenal opening to the Beanpot. Harvard’s a heck of a hockey team,” Quinn said. “We were kind of expecting a one-goal game. The game, though, came down to the last minute, and we certainly didn’t envision double overtime.
“[I’m] just really proud of our guys. I thought we really had a lot of resiliency and resolve today.”
Junior forward Danny O’Regan notched the game-winner off a one-timer at the 2:18 mark of double overtime to give BU its first trip to the Beanpot championship game since 2012 and a shot at its first Beanpot title since 2009.
The win also marked the Terriers’ first victory over Harvard since 2012. BU will compete for the Beanpot crown next Monday, facing off against Northeastern University, who defeated No. 11 Boston College, 3-2, in Monday night’s other semifinal game.
BU came roaring back in the second period after trailing 3-1, but needed nearly 43 more minutes to beat the Crimson. With O’Regan’s goal, the Terriers finally wore down Harvard goaltender Steve Michalek, who recorded a Beanpot-record 63 saves.
“I thought we were very patient,” Quinn said. “It can get frustrating, when you get a lot of shots and some chances, all of the sudden, you can press and get frustrated. I thought we did a good job of not getting frustrated and not pressing and being patient, and I thought we just stuck to doing the things that we need to do to score a goal, and we did it.”
With 3:10 left in the first period, senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann struck first for BU, off a crisp pass from his fellow assistant captain, senior Evan Rodrigues. But 1:15 later, Harvard forward Kyle Criscuolo connected to tie the game.
Twenty-two seconds into the second period, Harvard forward Alexander Kerfoot gave Harvard a 2-1 lead off a BU turnover. Eight minutes later, defenseman Victor Newell extended Harvard’s lead to two goals when BU junior goaltender Matt O’Connor was too far out of the net.
Sophomore forward Nick Roberto had a breakaway attempt, which went wide. Junior forward Matt Lane subsequently scooped up the loose puck, looped it around the net to Roberto, whose shot bounced off Michalek’s pads. Freshman forward Nikolas Olsson rang home the rebound, though, to cut BU’s deficit to 3-2 with about 4:30 remaining in the second period.
Then, with 23.5 seconds left in the second frame, junior forward Ahti Oksanen tossed in a puck from the slot, delivered to him from Hohmann, to tie the game at 3-3.
Just a little over 43 minutes later, O’Regan won it for BU with an assist from Rodrigues, whose two assists in the game extended his point streak to 10 games (23 points). The goal gave BU its fourth overtime win this season.
Of course, the exhausted Terrier squad might have liked to end the longest game in Beanpot history a little sooner — and had plenty of chances to, outshooting Harvard 40-14 in the third period and extra time combined. But it knew no matter the length of the game, the team had a chance.
“We just knew that we could battle, and we could roll our lines. We had trust in each other,” Hohmann said. “We knew we could battle for however long the game lasted.”