BOSTON — It wasn’t exactly an 86-year championship curse like the Red Sox finally broke in the 2004 World Series, but Harvard had a pretty big drought of its own.
However, that drought ended Monday for the No. 3 Crimson, who earned a 6-3 win over No. 4 Boston University at TD Garden to capture its first Beanpot title since 1993.
Oh, and how sweet it was for Harvard.
“This is a group that has really kind of tackled making sure that our culture was right and has great leadership,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “And I think this was something that they really wanted. They wanted to leave this kind of legacy that they were the group that was going to break the curse, so to speak.
“I’m really happy for them. I’m happy for all the guys throughout the lineup, but for that senior class, I think there’s a special spot for me with all they’ve done off the ice to really represent our university and our hockey program.”
It appeared as though the Crimson was well on its way to a win after scoring first and outshooting BU 18-2 in the first period. But the Terriers woke up in the second and scored two straight goals to take their first, and only, lead. That didn’t faze Harvard, though, as it scored four of the next five goals over the final two frames to seal the historic win.
Just how historic was it? Well, not only was it Harvard’s first Beanpot victory since 1993 and its 11th overall, but it also became the first team other than Boston College or Boston University to win the championship since that same year.
In short, the victory was a long time coming for Donato, who took over the program 13 seasons ago, and the Crimson.
“Well, I didn’t think it was going to take 13 years, I’ll tell you that much,” Donato said. “But it’s funny. Hey, I grew up in Boston. I’ve played a million street hockey games. … It’s one of these things that, as you get older and become a coach and you start to see kids graduate and they move on, it’s a tournament that connects people.
“… I’m really happy for our program, and I’m happy for the players most of all. They’re the ones that earned it, and they’re the ones that really set their sights on doing the things that would give us a chance to win.”
Let’s take a look at a few more notes from Harvard’s big night and Northeastern’s 4-2 win over Boston College in the consolation game.
— Two major awards are handed out at the end of the Beanpot. Harvard freshman Nathan Krusko, who scored two goals and had an assist, was named Beanpot MVP, and BU goalie Jake Oettinger earned the Eberly Trophy with his tournament-best .913 save percentage.
— While Oettinger allowed five goals — Harvard’s final tally was an empty-netter — he still made 40 saves in a tremendous effort in net. Harvard goalie Merrick Madsen had a quiet night in comparison, making 14 saves on 17 shots.
— Four Boston Bruins prospects played in the final, and they had mixed results. Harvard’s Ryan Donato had the best night with a goal on a pretty individual effort in the third period. Donato’s teammate and fellow B’s prospect Wiley Sherman got on the box score with a two-minute minor for boarding.
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Charlie McAvoy (two) combined for three penalties for BU. Both players registered one shot.
–Dylan Sikura was the hero for Northeastern. The junior winger netted the consolation’s game-winner on a pretty wrist shot with 43 seconds remaining in regulation. After the game, he admitted emotions were running high, but gave all the credit to his teammates.
“There were definitely a lot of emotions,” he said. “It was a good play by (Zach) Aston-Reese, the defense stood down and I don’t really know how they got me the puck, but they did and I had a nice look there.”
— Northeastern came into Monday night’s matchup at the bottom of the Hockey East standings with a 6-9-3 record in the conference (12-12-5 overall). Head coach Jim Madigan hopes a win over a team of Boston College’s caliber can catapult the Huskies heading into postseason play.
“I thought we played smart. I thought we played hard,” Madigan said. “We stuck with our game plan and I think our kids showed a lot of patience and poise. They found a way to make a play at the end of the game, they really showed their resiliency. We’re looking at this game as a jump start into our last four games and into the postseason.”
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@Cam_McDonough