While the figures on the videoboard at the TD Banknorth Garden stood at 00:00, for a crowd of 17,565 hockey fans, time itself seemed to stand still.
The Garden was silent with anticipation, as everyone in the arena breathlessly waited to find out if Crimson junior defenseman Alex Biega’s goal — which would have tied the game at four goals apiece — passed Boston University (BU) goaltender Kieran Millan before time expired. Although initially called a goal, game officials consulted with the replay booth to make sure the call should stand.
Minutes later, BU Terrier players and fans burst into celebration, as Biega’s goal was called off, foiling the Crimson’s bid to upset the No. 1 men’s hockey team in the country.
Just eight minutes and 19 seconds into the game, “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” rang loud, proud, and in tune from the Stadium’s upper balcony, courtesy of the Harvard University Band. The Harvard fight song celebrated Crimson sophomore forward Michael Biega’s fourth goal of the season, and a 1-0 lead over BU, who just hours before was named the nation’s new No. 1-ranked team.
The second period started with another Crimson goal, from freshman forward Alex Killorn, on a 5-on-3 power play to extend Harvard’s lead to 2-0.
But determined to respond to adversity like a top-ranked team should, the Terriers barked back with two second period goals, erasing Harvard’s hard-earned lead.
Continuing to play with a hot stick, BU scored again at the third period’s 11:25 mark, giving the Terriers their first lead of the game. And despite Pier-Olivier Michaud ’11 scoring his fourth goal of the season to tie the game once again, a crucial hooking penalty with just over two minutes remaining in the game put the Crimson down a man and vulnerable to BU’s potent power play attack. The Terriers quickly converted, going up for good, 4-3.
Despite falling short against BU (20-5-1) — who owns the most tournament championships amongst the four Beanpot teams (24) — if there is such thing as a moral victory, the Crimson surely earned one.
“[BU’s] a tremendous hockey team and I thought it was a great hockey game,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “I’m very proud of our guys. … There were a lot of things for us to grab onto and we’ll look towards the end of our year to see what we can accomplish as a team.”
Alex Biega, who needed just a few more seconds to convert on the equalizer, echoed his coach’s words. “That’s why the Beanpot’s so special, you’re guaranteed to get a great game. It was close and it’s tough, but I think our team really battled through it, and we took a step forward, that’s for sure.”
On Monday (Feb. 9) at 5 p.m., the Crimson will face the No. 12 Boston College (B.C.) Eagles (11-9-4) in the tournament consolation game. Last year the Crimson fell to the Eagles in the Beanpot Championship game 5-6 in overtime.
Women’s hockey throttles BU, 8-0
The last time the Harvard Crimson women’s hockey team scored eight goals in a game, they were on a familiar stage. After losing a triple-overtime thriller to No. 10 B.C. in the 2007 Beanpot semifinal, Harvard took out their frustration on Northeastern a week later, 8-0, in the tournament’s consolation game. That season was the only year since 1996 the Crimson did not reach the Beanpot championship game.
This year, eight goals made sure the Crimson stayed out of the consolation game. In their 8-0 shutout of BU on Tuesday (Feb. 3), seniors Sarah Vaillancourt and Jenny Brine dismantled the Terriers, as both recorded hat tricks during Harvard’s scoring eruption. Vaillancourt also added four assists, and finished with a season-high seven points.
“We were as good as we’ve been all year. We played some good hockey tonight,” said Crimson head coach Katey Stone. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we like the way we’re playing right now.”
Harvard now has No. 7 B.C. standing in the way of the Crimson’s 13th Beanpot title — they will be facing the Eagles at Matthews Arena next Tuesday (Feb. 10) at 8 p.m. And for Vaillancourt and Brine, it will be the last time the senior co-captains will be able to play for one of the most coveted trophies in all of women’s hockey.
“The senior class knows the importance of the Beanpot, the history of it with Harvard hockey, and I think it’s our job as seniors to especially let the freshmen know how big of a deal this really is for us,” Brine said.