Northeastern could rest easy Tuesday night knowing the white whale had been slain.
At least, the first whale was. And it was really a Crimson whale. More on that later.
Northeastern defeated Harvard in the opening round of the 2017 Beanpot by a score of 4-1 in Matthews Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Scoring opened just 59 seconds into the contest when freshman Paige Capistran’s shot from the point was deflected by Halle Silva to put NU on the board. Later in the period redshirt senior Paige Savage took a tough angle shot that snuck past Crimson goaltender senior Molly Tissenbaum, and that would prove to be all the scoring the Huskies would need.
Junior Lexie Laing of Marblehead, Mass., notched the lone tally for Harvard midway through the second period, tossing a backhand shot over sophomore goaltender Brittany Bugalski’s shoulder to cut the lead in half. NU responded with another goal from Savage, and then junior McKenna Brand tacked on her 22nd of the year to make it a three-score lead and to continue pacing the nation in goals.
Moby Dick - with a lot of Captain Ahabs
For Northeastern associate head coach Jeff Pellegrini and assistant coach Nick Carpenito, this game was part of the revenge tour theme of this year’s tournament. With every team out to prove something, Carpenito was able to record his first ever win against Harvard, dating back to his days coaching at Union. Pellegrini, a former coach at Harvard, also felt a bit of pride in the victory.
The entire Northeastern team has had their struggles against Harvard lately, and after some early- to mid-season issues hindered their progress, a statement win like this was enormous.
“I like how we started our scoring in the first minute,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said. “That’s been one of our Achilles’ heels this season, starting slow.” NU is 15-2-1 when scoring the first goal this season, and with a +18 goal differential in the third period, they can really shine when they play a full 60 minutes.
Harvard’s Spiraling Season
As if the 3-16-3 record was not indicative enough of the problems plaguing Harvard, their roster woes are even worse. The Crimson dressed a total of 14 skaters yesterday. 14! Their three lines of forwards contained one full line of defensemen, and their five defensemen took a number of shifts with different partners in different situations.
None of this is really the fault of Harvard or head coach Katey Stone. The team’s injury issues have created the impossible task of competing in a conference with several ranked opponents and in a tournament where two competitors appeared in the NCAA tournament last year. After last night’s loss, it is difficult to say when things will look up.
Stone was upset with the way her team began the game. “It was a very disappointing effort right off the bat,” she said, noting that their rough opening frame caused them to play catch-up all night. When asked about her depleted roster, she offered little in the self-pity category, and proclaimed the team needed to adopt the “next man up” mentality.
Barbito’s Brutal Truth
If you did not get to listen to or watch either of the Beanpot games, you missed out. The Boston College-Boston University game featured three periods of back and forth play, including a dramatic extra attacker finish for the Terriers. The nightcap was an exercise in the quirks of hockey - Harvard finished the game with 29 shots on goal, 13 coming in the third, and yet had only one goal to show for it. It will be a bittersweet consolation game for the Crimson and Terriers, who find themselves in the same position in the tournament as last year.
As mentioned, every team has something to prove in this tournament. Next week the Huskies hope to exact revenge on an Eagles team that has hung over their heads for years, while the Eagles attempt to prove their elite status without the heavy hitters of last year’s near-perfect team. First periods have been problematic all season for the Huskies, but with the groove they have hit lately, Boston College will need to put up a tough fight.
Never one to brag, but after successfully calling the outcome of both games last week, I can say the following with certainty: regardless of the outcome, this year’s Beanpot final will be one of the best individual NCAA games of the season. Period.
The revenge tour Beanpot concludes as Boston College and Northeastern square off in the final on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at historic Matthews Arena.