Kelly Wallace scored a pair of goals and Chloe Desjardins made 27 saves as Northeastern took advantage of a sluggish start by fifth-ranked Harvard to carry off a 4-3 victory in the opening game of the women’s Beanpot Tuesday night at Conte Forum.
The last time Boston College hosted the Beanpot, in 2011, the Eagles won the tournament. They got a jump on doing it again with a 4-1 victory over Hockey East rival Boston University in the second semifinal. BC and Northeastern will meet in next week’s championship game.
Northeastern (13-12-2), the two-time defending champion, was cruising with a 4-1 lead after two periods when the Crimson (17-3-3) came charging back.
“The thing with Harvard is they never go away,’’ said Northeastern coach Dave Flint. “When you think that you’ve got them, they just come back with goals. I was getting worried tonight that they were going to pull one of those off.’’
It was just the third loss of the season for Harvard, which saved most of its pressure for the final period. Goals by Mary Parker at 10:13 and Samantha Reber at 15:02 brought Harvard within one and the Crimson had shifted the momentum in its favor. In the final minute, with goalie Brianna Laing pulled for an extra attacker, the Crimson kept coming. Desjardins stuffed a close-in attempt from Sydney Daniels with a glove save, and stretched out to make a last-minute poke check with the Crimson swarming her net.
“Part of the reason that we’ve been playing really well toward the second half [of the season] is confidence in our goalie and knowing that she’ll be able to make those great saves,’’ said Wallace.
Northeastern, which won its sixth straight game, will get a chance to win its 17th Beanpot title next week.
The Huskies opened the scoring at 6:41 when Colleen Murphy flung a wrist shot at the net from the blue line. The wobbly shot escaped Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmayer into the top of the net.
NU boosted its lead at 12:53, with senior Brittany Esposito setting up the goal with a backhand pass out of the left corner. Wallace raced to the net to tip the puck between Maschmayer and the post. It was the 100th career point for Esposito and extended her point-scoring streak to seven games.
Harvard climbed back into the game at 3:22 of the second with a shorthanded goal, Mary Parker finishing off a 2-on-1 break with her sister Elizabeth. But NU pushed back, scoring a power-play goal on Wallace’s second goal of the game and 16th of the season, giving the senior her 17th point in 14 games and extending her point streak to seven games. Wallace’s shot from the right side deflected off a skate and into the net.
After the goal, Harvard replaced Maschmayer with Laing but NU took advantage of a deflection at 14:55 when Hayley Masters corralled the puck along the backboards and sent it toward the front of the net. The puck hit a defender’s skate and slid across the crease and into the net.
The Crimson nearly recovered. Mary Parker scored her second of the game at 10:13, finishing an odd-man rush by pushing a shot from the left side past a sprawling Desjardins. It was the fourth goal in the last three games for Mary Parker, and her 11th of the season. Harvard scratched within one on Reber’s power-play goal at 15:02.
“We made quite a game of it in the end,” said Harvard coach Maura Crowell. “I thought for sure we were going to come up with that tying goal and push this to an OT, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s a tough loss.”
BC, too, built its victory on a strong first period. The seventh-ranked Eagles (20-4-3) took a 3-0 lead in the first period on the strength of its special teams, Taylor Wasylk scoring a shorthanded goal at 6:27 and Emily Field collecting a power-play score at 14:53. The shorthanded goal was Wasylk’s third and BC’s 10th of the season, while it was just the second shortie scored on BU (18-9-1) this season.
Haley Skarupa finished off a pass from Wasylk at 19:53, also on the power play, to salt away the three-goal advantage. It was the 17th goal of the season for the team’s scoring leader. Skarupa later added her 18th with an empty-netter.
“I think our kids came out on fire in that first period,’’ said BC coach Katie King Crowley, whose team extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games. “We withstood some of their scoring opportunities in the second period and then to me, did a great job playing with the lead in the third.’’