The Boston University men’s hockey team got back in the win column on Tuesday night, overcoming No. 9/12 Harvard University 5-2 at Agganis Arena.
“I think tonight was probably the first game in a long time that we put together a complete game,” said junior defenseman Cam Crotty.
The Terriers (5-6-5, 3-3-4 Hockey East) had been shut out for two consecutive games ahead of Tuesday night’s contest, falling 4-0 to Sacred Heart and 2-0 to Cornell. Against Harvard (6-2, 6-0 ECAC), BU’s scoring would return in a big way.
Just 81 seconds in, senior forward Patrick Harper stole the puck on the forecheck and freshman forward Trevor Zegras took control, walking in and roofing BU’s first goal in three games.
“Getting the early goal was helpful from a confidence standpoint,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said.
Harvard drew level on the penalty kill minutes later, turning defense into offense as freshman defenseman Reilly Walsh deposited a feed from senior forward Nathan Krusko on the rush.
“[We were] a little shaky on our power play,” said O’Connell, whose team went scoreless on their five man-advantage opportunities.
BU’s lead was restored 7:30 into the game when freshman forward Ethan Phillips dangled into space and let go a shot that caromed off freshman forward Robert Mastrosimone on its way in. Junior defenseman David Farrance provided the initial feed, hitting ten assists on the season.
“I think we went to the net better,” O’Connell said, touching on a topic he has previously referred to as a potential area of improvement for the Terrier attack.
Freshman defenseman Dom Fensore came up limping after going hard into his defensive corner in the first period. He tested the injury for a shift, but could not continue.
“From what I’ve heard, it’s a bruise,” said O’Connell.
BU struck again with 2:33 left in the second period, earning a delayed penalty and working the puck around six-on-five until junior defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo and Farrance combined to set up senior forward Patrick Curry, who slammed it home from the right circle to reach a double-digit goal total for the season.
“I thought tonight we chased the game,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “I think we gave them goals too easily.”
Junior defenseman Cam Crotty extended the lead five minutes into the third period on a rocket from range, assisted by Harper and freshman forward Jamie Armstrong, recording his first assist as a Terrier.
“I think we got contributions from everyone,” said O’Connell.
Harvard got one back through a tap-in by sophomore forward Jack Drury on the power play in the final five minutes and nearly made it 4-3 shortly after if not for a sprawling save by graduate goaltender Sam Tucker to deny sophomore forward Casey Dornbach.
“[Tucker] made a huge save,” said O’Connell of the chance. “It could have been 4-3 very easily.”
With 1:13 to play, Patrick Harper completed his three-point night with a 130-foot empty-netter to put the game out of Harvard’s reach. The lone helper on the goal went to Crotty.
As O’Connell said, “the guys played well, I thought, from the start of the game to the end of the game.”
Out-shooting the Crimson 33-25, BU finished with the 5-2 victory, defeating Harvard for the first time in regular-season play since 2016.
“When you beat a top-ten team, it’s always big for confidence,” said Crotty.
According to Coach O’Connell, part of BU’s success in the attacking end resulted from a shuffling of the forward lines ahead of the game.
“I think each line got a little more spice on it,” he said.
“That might have sparked something,” added Zegras about the change.
BU will now move on to face No. 8/12 Northeastern, who comes in fresh off raising a trophy in Northern Ireland as the champions of the annual Friendship Four tournament.
“Northeastern’s going to be a tough foe; they always are,” said O’Connell.
As the Terriers turn their attention to the conference-leading Huskies, O’Connell feels confident his team is moving in the right direction.
“I think we’re starting to find our groove a little bit as far as the way we need to play,” the second-year head coach said. “I think we’re starting to learn what makes us successful.”
BU and Northeastern will meet at Agganis Arena on Saturday night at 7 p.m.