Boston University coach David Quinn really believed his team had turned a corner after a period of time when he wasn’t sure what he would get on a nightly basis.
But the Terriers took a step backward Monday, dropping a 6-2 decision to Harvard in the 62d Beanpot Tournament consolation game at TD Garden.
BU (8-16-4) actually led, 1-0, after the first period on a goal by Evan Rodrigues at 10:42. But the Crimson erupted for three goals in the middle period. Kyle Criscuolo (one goal, two assists) tied it at 1:14 and Brian Hart put them ahead for good at 3:33. Luke Esposito, a freshman center and Criscuolo linemate, scored the third Harvard goal at 6:59 to make it 3-1.
BU closed the gap to 3-2 at 7:20 of the third when defenseman Ahti Oksanen potted his sixth of the year.
However, only 37 seconds later, Esposito struck again. Jimmy Vesey made it a 5-2 lead at 17:46 and Tyler Moy closed it out at 19:34.
Harvard junior goaltender Steve Michalek had 25 saves and improved to 3-5-1. BU starter Sean Maguire had 31 saves in 56:59 of play. Senior Anthony Moccia mopped up for the final 2:14 and had one save.
“I thought [Harvard] was the better team, they played harder,’’ said Quinn. “Even though we were up, 1-0, I thought they really took charge of the game. It’s disappointing for us. I thought we made a lot of progress in the last three weeks. I know the wins and losses didn’t show it but I could feel a little bit of momentum and a little more purpose to our game. We played more responsible. I thought we really reverted back to what we looked like three weeks ago.’’
Consolation games are difficult because there are few fans in the building and there is a deflation in knowing you aren’t playing for a trophy.
“We all know it’s a tough game to play but that’s no excuse,’’ said Quinn. “I wasn’t expecting this because we’ve been going in the right direction over the last 2½ or three weeks. I was disappointed with our lack of preparation. Obviously, we haven’t beaten Harvard in two years and that should be incentive enough. In fact, we haven’t won an awful lot in the last few months.”
The Crimson are hoping to use the win as a springboard. As mediocre as the season has been so far at 8-12-3, there are plenty of chances to turn it around.
“We’re a young team and we’re constantly improving,’’ said Harvard coach Ted Donato, whose team also beat BU soundly, 7-4, Jan. 4. “As far as our league goes, there are 12 points, six games left, and we have an opportunity to move up in the standings.
“Most importantly, we’re trying to get some momentum so we’re playing our best hockey at the end of the season.’’
Hayes is MVP
BC senior right wing Kevin Hayes was named most valuable player of the tournament. He scored the first goal in the Eagles’ 4-1 win over Northeastern in the championship game. He also potted a goal in the semifinals against BU . . . BC freshman Thatcher Demko earned the Eberly Award as the best goaltender in the tournament. Demko (29 saves Monday) finished with a .966 save percentage, second best in the 62 years of the tournament . . . During BC forward Johnny Gaudreau’s 24-game point streak, the junior has 22 goals and 50 points . . . With the victory, Jerry York tied John “Snooks” Kelley for most Beanpot titles as BC coach with eight. York and Kelley are tied for second in all-time Beanpot titles behind former BU coach Jack Parker (21).
For the first time in the tournament’s history, BU finished fourth in back-to-back seasons. It’s only the seventh fourth-place finish all time for the Terriers. It was the largest margin of defeat for the team since a 5-0 loss in the title game in 1962 against Harvard . . . Harvard won back-to-back games for the first time this season. The team shut out Dartmouth last Friday . . . The Crimson have back-to-back victories over BU in the Beanpot for the first time since 1993-94 . . . Rodrigues scored his first goal since Dec. 6 against Merrimack. In his next seven games, Rodrigues had zero points, although against BC in the Beanpot semifinals, Rodrigues had an excellent game and several good scoring chances.Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.