BOSTON -- Redshirt junior Clay Witt turned aside all 27 Harvard shots as Northeastern advanced to the 2014 Beanpot final with a 6-0 victory against Harvard on Monday at TD Garden.
Freshman Mike Szmatula had a goal and two assists to pace six multi-point scorers for the Huskies, who advanced to the Beanpot final for the third time in the past four years.
Northeastern will make its 16th appearance in the Beanpot final on Monday, Feb. 10. The Huskies are looking to snap a 25-year drought dating back to the program's last Beanpot title in 1988.
Sophomore Kevin Roy, senior Braden Pimm, freshman Dalen Hedges and sophomore Colton Saucerman each recorded a goal and an assist, while freshman John Stevenstacked on a pair of helpers.
The Huskies went 3-for-10 on the power play in a penalty-filled game that featured 31 infractions and 76 total penalty minutes. Northeastern killed off all seven Harvard power plays and outshot the Crimson (6-12-3) by a 38-27 count.
The real story of the game was Witt, who played 60 minutes of flawless hockey to pick up his fourth shutout of the season. The national leader in save percentage looked comfortable throughout the game, making both routine and highlight-reel saves look easy.
Witt was called into action just two minutes into the first period when Harvard's Tyler Moy created a scoring chance with some hard work in the Northeastern zone. After wining a battle along the low boards, Moy emerged with the puck and drove hard to the net on the backhand. Witt stayed with the play as Moy attempted to cut across the crease, and then made the stop in tight before finding the rebound as it fluttered in the air and landed dangerously on top of the net.
Harvard netminder Raphael Girard (21 saves) then matched Witt with a nice save of his own, gobbling up a blast from freshman Matt Benning on the first of five NU power plays in the opening period.
Northeastern continued to press and eventually found a goal on a brilliant solo play by Hedges. After a faceoff in the Harvard zone, Hedges scooped up a loose puck and circled behind the Crimson goal. The Harvard defense sagged off, allowing Hedges to continue his arc into the low slot. Hedges waited patiently, before ripping a hard wrister over the glove of Girard to make it 1-0 Huskies just 5:57 into the contest.
Harvard nearly tied things up minutes later when Sean Malone's shot from the right circle trickled past Witt and skittered toward the goalline. The puck would have likely crossed the plane if not for Benning, who alertly spotted the disc and scooped it off the line to keep Northeastern in front.
The Huskies went back to work at the other end and padded their lead at the 12:08 mark after some pretty passing on a five-on-three power play. Hedges and Roy exchanged passes at the top of the right circle, before Roy spotted Stevens joining the play off the bench. Roy then dropped a soft feed back to the charging Stevens, who deftly gave it right back to Roy for a one-time blast from the right faceoff dot that beat Girard to make it 2-0. The goal was Roy's fifth power-play tally of the season and sixth career Beanpot goal.
Northeastern carried its 2-0 lead into the second period and quickly tacked on another insurance tally when Szmatula forced a turnover at center ice and skated in two-on-one with redshirt junior Torin Snydeman. Szmatula waited until the last moment before dishing a pass across the goal-mouth for Snydeman to fire home just 31 seconds into the frame.
Pimm increased the lead to 4-0 less than four minutes later, cashing in on a tic-tac-toe passing play on a four-on-four. Saucerman initiated the goal with an aerial pass across the crease to Szmatula, who skillfully gloved the puck down before dishing a backhand feed back across the slot to Pimm for the tap-in at 4:22.
The Crimson came close once again midway through the period, but Witt stood tall with a series of tough stops, including three saves off Luke Esposito, Kyle Criscuolo and Alexander Kerfoot on a frantic scramble in front.
Feeding off the play of their netminder, the Huskies again found the back of the net in the first minute of a period, striking 16 seconds into the third on another power-play opportunity. Collecting a feed from Roy in the left corner, Stevens threw the puck back to the point for Saucerman. The sophomore tip-toed the blue line before throwing a soft wrister toward the net that found its way through traffic and inside the left post to push the score to 5-0. The goal chased Girard, who was replaced by Steve Michalek (11 saves) for the final 19:44 of the third period.
A late five-minute power play handed the Huskies their sixth and final goal as Szmatula cleaned up a rebound off a shot from Pimm with 3:13 remaining.
No. 2 Boston College 3, Boston University 1
BOSTON -- Junior forward Johnny Gaudreau scored one goal and added an assist, extending his point streak to 22 games, and goaltender Thatcher Demko stopped 27 shots to lead No. 2 Boston College to a 3-1 victory against Boston University in the semifinal round of the 62nd annual Beanpot Tournament on Monday night at TD Garden.
Boston University put the pressure on early but the Eagles were able to answer defensively before taking an early 1-0 lead at 4:04 of the first period.
BC took advantage of a tripping call on BU’s Patrick MacGregor, scoring 13 seconds into the power play. First-year forward Ryan Fitzgerald took control of the puck along the right boards and cycled it to classmate Scott Savage on the blue line. Savage sent a cross-ice pass to Teddy Doherty who found Fitzgerald at the right faceoff dot. Savage dropped down and lifted a wrister inside the right post, beating BU goaltender Matt O’Connor glove side for his ninth goal of the season.
The Terriers held a 10-5 advantage in shots in the opening stanza, but it was the Eagles who took a lead into the first intermission.
BC doubled the margin at 1:20 of the middle stanza when college hockey’s top line connected for yet another goal. Gaudreau skated into the slot where he was bumped off the puck, but Bill Arnold scooped it up and sent a backhanded pass from the goal line between O’Connor and a diving Terrier defender to Kevin Hayes who buried the puck into an open net for the game winner.
Boston University had its best chance of the first period at 12:10 when MacGregor fired a shot from the top of the slot, but Demko made a kick save and sent the puck wide to the boards to preserve the two-goal lead.
Danny O’Regan and Nick Roberto broke out on a 2-on-1 that proved to be the Terriers greatest scoring opportunity of the second period, but Savage used a well-timed poke check to disrupt the play just enough that Roberto was unable to fire off a shot.
BU nearly cut BC’s lead in half after a holding call on Isaac MacLeod at 17:10 of the middle stanza, as the Terriers peppered the net with shots on the power play, but Demko and the Eagles’ defense stood strong to keep the Terriers off the board through two periods of play.
Despite not putting a shot on net during a five-minute power play after a hitting-from-behind penalty on Doyle Somerby, the Eagles still outshot the Terriers 15-9 in the second period.
Boston University had a golden opportunity to find the back of the net at 4:09 of the third period when Demko was out of position and the puck skittered loose inside the crease, but neither Kevin Duane nor Matt Lane were able to fire a shot on the open net for the Terriers. Michael Matheson finally cleared the puck to get the Eagles out of danger.
The Terriers pulled within one at 6:43 of the third period with a goal by Robbie Baillargeon.
O’Regan skated behind the BC net and sent a pass that hit Baillargeon in stride, skating left to right from the blue line, and the freshman center ripped a shot from the inside edge of the right circle that found its way past Demko’s outstretched glove and into the net to make the score 2-1.
Gaudreau concluded the scoring at 19:29, pocketing his 24th goal of the season into the empty net to settle the score at 3-1.
Demko won his sixth consecutive game and improved to 9-1-2 on the season.