Men’s Ice Hockey: Boston College Faces Harvard in Beanpot Opener

By: Dan Shulman

Boston College vs. Harvard (Beanpot – First Round) February 1, 2016

ABOUT THE TEAMS – All-Time Series: BC leads 72-45-5

HARVARD: Location – Cambridge, MA; Mascot – Crimson; This Year’s Record – 12-4-3 (8-3-3 ECAC), 2-1-0 on neutral ice, 52-74 in Beanpot Tournament; Fun Fact – Harvard has already won two in-season tournaments; The Shillelagh Tournament and The Mariucci Classic

BOSTON COLLEGE: Location – Chestnut Hill, MA; Mascot – Eagles; This Year’s Record – 17-4-4 (10-1-4 HEA), 0-2-0 on neutral ice, 76-50 in Beanpot Tournament; Fun Fact – BC has never finished fourth in a Beanpot under Jerry York

PREVIEW PODCAST:

PREVIEW

After combining to win the first five Beanpot titles, the Boston College Eagles and the Harvard Crimson will face-off in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament for the first time since 2013.

Boston College coach Jerry York recently earned his 1,000th career victory against the UMass-Amherst Minutemen in an 8-0 thrashing by the Eagles as eight different players scored.

Prior to Monday’s game, the Eagles traveled to Notre Dame for the second leg of a home-and-home series, with Thatcher Demko recording his eighth shutout of the season in a 4-0 victory.

Harvard defeated Cornell at Lynah Rink in Ithaca, New York last weekend 6-2, with six different goal scorers finding the back of the net. The Crimson are fresh off a 4-1 win against Princeton at the Bright Center. Jimmy Vesey scored a pair of goals in the victory.

“There’s always an excitement and in our case a pressure to want to do well,” said Harvard Head Coach Ted Donato. “We haven’t the success that we’ve wanted. You can’t think two steps ahead, you just have to focus on the first game.”

The last time the two teams met was the 2015 Beanpot Consolation game, with the Eagles winning 3-2 in overtime. Harvard held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, but the Eagles, behind Matthew Gaudreau, tied the game to force overtime. It only took 1:16 for Ryan Fitzgerald to give the Eagles a third place finish in the Beanpot.

This season, Boston College is led by a talented group of freshman, paced by Colin White and Miles Wood. White leads the team in goals (15), assists (18), and points (33) this year. Wood has eight goals and 18 assists this season in just 23 games. He is one of the nation’s leaders in PIM with 64 this season.

Defensively, captain Teddy Doherty and junior Ian McCoshen have been the Eagles’ best blue-liners this year. Doherty is a two-way player with 18 points on the year. McCoshen has 15 points this season and is a team-high +24 this season.

In net for BC will be Thatcher Demko. The junior net-minder missed two games in early January, and returned to record his first shutout since November against UMass. Demko boasts a .939 SV% and a 1.64 GAA and eight shutouts in 23 games this season.

“BC is super talented, very well coached, and have some great players,” said Donato. “It’s a tremendous challenge and one we’re excited about.”

On the other side, Harvard has seen a strong showing from its top line this season. Jimmy Vesey, Kyle Criscuolo, and Alex Kerfoot have combined for 34 goals and 43 assists.

The blue-line unit is led by Clay Anderson and Desmond Bergin. The two have combined for 17 points this season and are both +11 on the year, tied for the team lead.

In goal for Harvard will be Merrick Madsen. The sophomore has posted a 1.85 GAA and a .936 SV% this season. In 15 games, he has four shutouts and is an impressive 11-1-2 on the year.

Being the only ECAC school in the Beanpot is a bit of a challenge, according to Coach Donato.

“We haven’t played at TD Garden like the other teams do in their playoffs,” said Donato. “There’s a little more familiarity between the other teams but we in most years play these teams anyways. The reality is, it’s a one-game series times two and you have to beat the team that you’re playing.”

Puck drop between BC and Harvard is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. and can be seen live on NESN. The game will also be available on TSN in Canada.

PREDICTION

Harvard hasn’t won a Beanpot since 1993, but this year is the best chance they have to win since then. With Jimmy Vesey playing at a Hobey Baker level, and goaltender Merrick Madsen standing strong between the pipes, Harvard is a true dark horse, and could give the Eagles a run for their money.

THREE KEYS TO THE GAME

  1. Harvard Power Play, BC PIM

The Eagles lead the nation in PIM averaging around 16.3 per game. Harvard has one of the nation’s top power plays at 31.9%. BC has struggled to stay disciplined and against a team like Harvard, they cannot afford to take penalties.

  1. Second Period

Harvard has allowed 17 goals in second periods this season, the most in any frame. BC is +24 in the second, their highest margin. This could be a crucial period in the game, and a chance for BC to give themselves a cushion or to crawl back into the game.

  1. Goaltender Battle

Demko and Madsen have been solid all season, with both posting a GAA under 2.00 and a save percentage above .930. The game may be low scoring and could even be decided by the goaltenders.

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