By: Matt Dresens
BOSTON — This game was not for the faint of heart and quite frankly, if you didn’t enjoy this game, you just don’t like sports. A minute and 55 seconds into the second overtime, Ty Amonte ended this marathon game between Harvard and BU off a bad-angle wrist shot that beat Harvard goalie Merrick Madsen high over his shoulder to propel the Terriers into their fourth straight Beanpot final.
For Amonte, it was just his fourth goal of the season, but it all started with a heads-up play. From just inside the Harvard blue line, Amonte picked up a loose puck and rather than just dump it back down in the corner, he chose to take it out of the zone and regroup with speed through the neutral zone.
“I got the puck, and I was going to make a backhand saucer pass to Dante [Fabbro], but I knew coach would have cut my head off,” Amonte laughed at the post-game press conference. “So, I just turned it up ice, and we have been talking a lot about beating guys down to the hash marks and taking the puck wide, so I just did that. I just wanted to get the puck on net because I know we have been trying to do that and it went in. It’s a good feeling.”
In the first overtime, both teams had multiple chances to end things. For BU, a Dante Fabbro point shot was tipped on its way through and Madsen was somehow able to keep the puck from going in after it had already popped up in the air and went behind him.
Harvard, on the other hand, had a power play chance just prior to the Fabbro bid, as Amonte was called for holding. Thanks to Jake Oettinger, who was even stickless at one point during the kill, the Terriers survived. Both teams skated back an forth trading chances with a stretch that lasted seven minutes without a whistle.
After BU took a 1-0 lead back in the first period on a Logan Cockerill power play goal from Drew Melanson and Brandon Hickey, Harvard dominated the second frame. The Crimson outshot BU 20-4 in the middle stanza, but only could find twine once. That was off the stick of Ty Pelton-Byce out in front on a pass from Ryan Donato.
“The second period was about as bad a period as we have played all year,” stated Coach Quinn. “We talked in between the second and third periods and we felt very fortunate that it was a 1-1 hockey game. We had to make a decision. Do you want to play at 4:00 next Monday? Or do you want to play at 8:00?”
Brandon Hickey sure looked like he would rather be back for the nightcap, as he struck just 32 seconds into period number three. Jordan Greenway hit Hickey out of the corner with a pass to the left point. From there, Hickey took two strides and shoveled a backhander on Madsen that was kicked out. Luckily for Hickey, the rebound came right back to him and from the edge of the crease, the pitching defenseman made no mistake on this backhand bid.
The lead was short-lived, though. Just 1:32 later, Jack Badini roofed a rebound off a Nathan Krusko shot as the public address was still announcing the Hickey goal.
Despite the quick Harvard response, BU controlled the play for the most part in the third and outshot the Crimson 12-4.
“I thought in the third period we started playing the brand of hockey we have been over the last month,” said Quinn.
“We were doing the right things in the third period and in overtime, and it led to a nice goal,” added Captain Brandon Hickey. “I’m really excited to be headed back to the finals, and Northeastern is a good crosstown rival so it’s going be a lot of fun to go out there in that atmosphere.”
Jake Oettinger was simply fantastic. He finished the game with a season-high 47 saves, including 17 in the third period and overtime.
“Obviously our goalie stood tall when he had to, said Quinn. “He was huge in the second period, made some big saves on the penalty kill in overtime.”
Way back in what seems like another semester now, Northeastern dropped Boston College 3-0 in the early game. That means it will be the Huskies and Terriers in a rematch of the 2015 final next Monday. The NU shutout marks the first time Northeastern has blanked BC in the series since 1988, the year the Huskies last won the Beanpot.
With the win, BU extends their win streak that dates back to January 19th to six games and their unbeaten streak to eight games. Before the Beanpot Championship game, BU will have to finish off their extended home-and-home series with UMass on Friday night at Agganis.