Boston College picked a good time to snap its streak of 25 games without beating a non-conference opponent, defeating Harvard, 2-1, in the first semifinal of the 67th Beanpot tournament Monday night.
“I thought it was 45,” BC coach Jerry York joked.
Freshman Jack McBain’s goal with 7:38 remaining gave the Eagles (10-12-3) the lead and goalie Joe Woll made sure it would be enough, recording 27 saves — including all 13 shots he faced in the final period — to get into next Monday’s championship game. Freshman Oliver Wahlstrom set the goal up with a nice backhand pass to McBain, who cut to the net and beat Harvard goalie Michael Lackey glove side.
The victory is BC’s first in the Beanpot in nearly three calendar years, dating to a title victory over rival Boston University in 2016. The 20-time winners finished last in the four-team tournament each of the last two seasons, something that had only previously happened in 1974-75, and last won a game outside of Hockey East when they defeated Arizona State, 3-1, on Nov. 13, 2016.
“We’ve had some great runs outside our conference, so I’ve been on both ends of it,” said York, whose team will face Northeastern in the title game. “You get different perspectives. Each game is a different game. We don’t play any harder against Arizona State than we would against Northeastern. There’s no magic. Just play well.”
BC got on the board first, capitalizing on a Crimson turnover to take off on a 3-on-2 break. Graham McPhee tracked down a loose puck at center ice and took off down the left side, then found freshman Patrick Giles at the point, who delivered a wrister past Lackey at 4:57.
That’s how the score would stay for the remainder of the first period, although Reilly Walsh and Adam Fox both had good looks in the final minute that Woll turned away.
“Obviously the past two years didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” said McPhee. “This year’s different. Everyone in the locker room really trusts each other.”
In the second period, Harvard (11-7-3) was forced to kill off three penalties in the first 10 minutes, but Lackey (16 saves) kept his team in the game, denying Julius Mattila’s slapper from the right with a nice kick save.
“I was frustrated with the amount of time we spent in the penalty box,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “It made it difficult for us to get any flow in the game, any kind of momentum. But our guys battled, and we had some very good looks, but Woll made the saves he needed to make.”
Minutes after Fox rocketed a potential equalizer off the left post, the Crimson evened the score. John Marino carried the puck down the right side and made his way behind the BC net, where he found Henry Bowlby streaking to the front for a one-timer with 4:23 remaining in the period.
The Crimson came out for the start of the third period and immediately applied pressure. (They’d finish with a significant shot edge: 13-8 for the period and 28-18 for the game.) Woll stopped Jack Drury’s shot from point-blank range, then smothered Casey Dornbach’s rebound attempt. Moments later, he stuffed Colton Kerfoot’s wraparound.
BC had its opportunities as well, with Logan Hutsko dishing the puck from behind the net to a cutting McPhee, whose one-timer was denied by Lackey.
“I thought McPhee played hard,” said York. “He was strong. He won a lot of wall battles for us. He was really a key in the penalty kill for our game.”
J.D. Dudek followed with a wraparound attempt of his own that caught Lackey out of position, but his shot bounced off the outside of the post.
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.