The Women’s Beanpot is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and Boston University would like to lead the celebration of the oldest women’s hockey tournament in the country.
BU, which won the title in 1981 when it was a club team, is still looking for its first title as a varsity program.
Northeastern, which has won 16 titles, dominated the early years before Harvard (14 titles) took a turn at the top and then, beginning in 2006, it was Boston College (seven titles).
BU is still looking for a way in.
The Terriers (11-14-6) took a step in the right direction Tuesday, defeating Harvard, 3-2, in the first semifinal game Tuesday night at Boston College’s Conte Forum.
Two-time defending champion BC (25-2-3) followed in lockstep, riding a pair of first-period goals from freshman Daryl Watts and a hat trick from junior Makenna Newkirk to a 5-2 victory over Northeastern (13-4-3) in the second semifinal.
“It’d definitely be such an honor,’’ said senior Rebecca Leslie about the prospect of finally winning the Beanpot. “Playing for the program, I’ve seen some great players come through here but we haven’t had our luck in the last few years.”
“Being a senior, that’s one of the biggest goals we have, to win a Beanpot,’’ Victoria Bach said. “We really came out flying at the start of the game.’’
Bach got her first goal at 3:48, breaking loose at the blue line, moving deftly around a Harvard defender, and lifting a backhand shot over Crimson goalie Beth Larcom for her 33rd score of the year.
She was back for her 34th at 5:55, spinning around in the slot to get her stick on a rebound and popping it past Larcom. Bach’s 99 career goals are the most in BU history.
When Jesse Compher gave BU a 3-0 advantage at 6:09 with a power-play shortside shot from the right circle, it appeared a romp was on.
But Harvard hung around and got one back at 14:03 when Brooke Jovanovich pounced on the rebound of Ali Peper’s shot from the blue line, lifting a backhander past BU’s Corinne Schroeder.
The Crimson had a chance to close within one with a power play late in the period, but had to wait until the second to cash in on the man advantage. After BU’s Breanna Scarpaci was sent to the box for body checking at 3:09, Harvard set up and looked for an opening. With only three seconds left in the power play, Kat Hughes sent a pass to Chelsea Ziadie at the center blue line, and she floated a shot past Schroeder that made it 3-2.
“Very disappointed in the start and the ultimate outcome,’’ said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “You can’t spot somebody a hat trick basically and expect to come back and win some of these games, everybody’s too good.’’
Harvard, which was outshot, 32-26, played with a short bench — only 14 skaters.
Third-ranked BC has an offense that cannot be contained. The Eagles boast three players in the top 10 nationally in scoring, paced by Watts, who is tops in points (71) and goals (36 in 30 games).
Northeastern did not go away, but regrouped and scored twice in the second period to tie the game. Andrea Renner notched her fifth of the season on a one-timer from the right circle that went between the pads of BC goalie Katie Burt. Shelby Harrington then shoveled the puck into the net out of a scrum at 10:34.
BC regained the lead at 13:08 when Newkirk and Kenzie Kent worked a pretty give-and-go, Newkirk notching her 17th goal of the season.
Newkirk iced the game at 14:43 of the third, roofing a shot from the right circle, then completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal at 18:51.
As BC coach Katie Crowley noted, it was the younger Eagles who shined in the first period, and the veterans who came through in the third.
“We just stuck to our systems and we trusted each other,’’ said Newkirk, who may just be BC’s secret weapon. In five career Beanpot games, Newkirk has four 3-point games.