Beanpot Recap – Harvard 4, NU 3

Harvard's Sean Malone (17) reaches for a loose puck as Northeastern goalie Ryan Ruck tries to cover during the third period of a Beanpot hockey tournament game in Boston, Monday. Harvard defeated Northeastern and advance to the championship game.

Photo credit – Charles Krupa, Associated Press

BOSTON – The Northeastern Huskies dropped their first game in the 65th Beanpot to the Harvard Crimson on Monday night, by a score 4-3 on Monday night. The loss left Northeastern at 11-12-5 on the year and ensured that the Husky faithful will see the infamous Beanpot drought reach an even 30 years next February.

Much of the first half of the game felt like two teams feeling each other out; action came in fits and starts as teams traded chances up and down the ice and endured frequent stoppages of play. Neither team seemed able to find a rhythm. The game stayed scoreless deep into the second period, until Alexander Kerfoot broke through. He potted his 10th score of the year by redirecting a puck flung from the point by Viktor  Dombrovskiy with 6:10 left in the second period. It was a tough puck to track, and a tough break for Ryan Ruck who saved 16 of 17 shots through the first 40 minutes and looked quite good doing it. Northeastern was able to tie it up with a pretty, power play tap-in goal from Adam Gaudette with just 1:52 left in the second period. That goal was on the powerplay, with assists from Garret Cockerill and Zach Aston-Reese, and extended their Huskies’ streak to seventeen games straight with a powerplay goal.

The wheels quickly came off for the Huskies in the third period. The Crimson scored three goals in a five minute stretch, starting just shy of 8 minutes into the period. NU was unable to get a clean clear and a full change late on the penalty kill and paid dearly when Clay Anderson found the puck in the high slot. Anderson’s slap shot beat Ruck through the legs for his second goal of the year. Tyler Moy followed with his 12th goal just two minutes later, forcing it in during a scrum in front of the net. Finally, Luke Esposito delivered the eventual game-winning goal (his 8th) another two minutes later on a Northeastern power play. Alexander Kerfoot fired a wrist shot on Ruck from the top of the circle, with few players around them, and Ruck could not control the rebound. The puck hit him in the chest, popped out over his glove and into the air, and settled on the ice for Esposito to put it home on a wide-open net.

To the Huskies’ credit, they did not go quietly. With about six minutes to go, they capitalized on another power play with excellent passing from Cockerill  Aston-Reese, and a strong tip home from the newly-returned Nolan Stevens. Then, with 1:33 left in the game and the goalie pulled, Northeastern posted its own goal from a netfront scrum. Adam Gaudette beat Merrick Madsen for his second goal of the night and 19th of the season. Unfortunately, one extra attacker goal was not enough for NU. The Huskies came tantalizingly close to tying the game (it wouldn’t be a Beanpot otherwise), but their final chance trickled through the crease just wide of an open net in the final minute.

Northeastern now moves on to the “Northeastern Invitational” next week – the Beanpot consolation game that the team has now appeared in 48 times in 65 tournaments (!!). They’ll take on Boston College, but that game doesn’t truly matter at this point. With the Beanpot lost and an at-large bid nearly out of the question, it is now all about Hockey East and whether the defense and goaltending can find a groove in time.

If there is a bright spot for Husky fans, it’s the fact that Harvard will finally get its turn in the Beanpot final. The Crimson have 10 Beanpot titles, compared to Northeastern’s 4, but their recent Beanpot history is almost as depressing as NU’s. Harvard hasn’t won the coveted trophy since 1993 and – get this – is playing in just its second final since 1998 (the other being a 6-5 overtime loss to Boston College in 2008). I look forward to seeing what kind of crowd Harvard draws next week in its first final in 9 years. More importantly, though, I’m hoping a very good Crimson squad can knock off the Terriers and claim the first non-BU, non-BC Beanpot championship since 1993. The Beanpot is fun, but the domination by BC and BU is absurd. The two teams have won 23 tournaments in a row and 50 of 65 overall. A Harvard win would be sorely needed new blood, even if it’s not the Northeastern win many (including this blog) dream of.

You can hear Coach Madigan’s post-game press conference, with Adam Gaudette at his side, here: