By Jacob Lintner
BOSTON – The game won’t count for either team’s record, but in a season where they are fighting to get back to .500, the Terriers (10-13-3, 8-7-2 HEA) will be fighting for their pride when they take on the No. 17 Harvard Crimson (12-7-3, 9-5-2 ECAC) in the Beanpot Consolation Game on Monday, Feb. 11.
“It’s going to be banged out,” head coach Albie O’Connell said. “It’s going to be a lively crowd. But our guys like playing in that. The more fans, the more excited they get to play in the game.”
The teams skated to a 2-2 draw on Jan. 8. BU netminder Jake Oettinger picked up his first and only collegiate point with an assist on Joel Farabee’s game-tying goal in the third period of that contest.
Since their last meeting, these teams have gone in near-opposite directions. The Terriers, who began the new year 4-1-1, have dropped their last four, including a 1-2 overtime loss to Northeastern in the Beanpot Semifinals to put them in the consolation game.
Harvard, meanwhile, has won five of their last six, their lone loss a 1-2 setback against Boston College in their first game of the Beanpot tournament. Most recently, they cruised past Union 5-3 last Friday. In that game, junior Adam Fox (19-80-99) matched his career high with four assists and now is one point away from the century mark in a Crimson uniform.
Harvard (No. 17 in the USCHO poll) has scored nearly four goals per game (3.83, to be precise) in their recent hot streak, which includes wins over No. 9 Clarkson and No. 20 Union. That scoring outburst has been fueled by Harvard’s dominance on special teams. The Crimson were 3-3 on the penalty kill in their 5-3 win over Union on Friday, and they are now 10-10 on the PK in their last three games.
Harvard is also the best team in the nation when they’re a man up, converting on 27-75 (.360) of their power plays on the season after scoring on all four of their power plays against Union. They’ll face BU’s 18th-ranked penalty kill unit, though, which is successful on 84 percent of their 4-on-5 situations.
The Terriers are facing a ranked opponent for the sixth game in a row, and this will be their fifth straight game without captain Bobo Carpenter, who could be out for another week, according to O’Connell, after being “roughed up” in a Jan. 25 win over No. 12 Arizona State.
In Carpenter’s stead, BU has gotten a ton of production from Farabee and Shane Bowers, whose taken over Carpenter’s spot as the first-line center. Farabee (2g, 3a) and Bowers (1g, 2a) are both on three-game point streaks entering Monday’s 4 p.m. tilt at TD Garden. The Terriers are going to have to keep feeding their top-line underclassmen to keep pace with Crimson’s potent offense.
This game will also feature two of the nation’s top goaltenders. Oettinger and Harvard’s Michael Lackey are part of a six-way tie for 15th in country with a .923 save percentage, but their numbers run counter to their teams’ performances as of late. Oettinger hasn’t had a save percentage lower than .920 in a game since Dec. 7, 2018, while Lackey is coming off his two worst games of the season – .889 and .880 against BC and Union, respectively.
It’s always a battle between two bitter rivals in the Beanpot, and the winning team is going to be the one that better hides the cracks in their own façade. Whether it’s Harvard’s suddenly porous goaltending or BU’s big missing piece, the storylines are going to play themselves out at the Garden, and you can listen to every minute of the game at mixlr.com/wtbusports.