BOSTON -- Boston University coach Jack Parker knew he had an ace up his sleeve coming into the Terriers' first-round Beanpot game against Harvard, and that was his senior goaltender, Kieran Millan. But he got dealt a matching ace with junior Wade Megan, who stepped up big time on the big stage at TD Garden on Monday.
As a result, the No. 1-ranked Terriers (17-8-1; 13-6-1 Hockey East) capitalized on Millan's solid netminding (29 saves) and Megan's two clutch second-period goals to grab a 3-1 win over Harvard and propel BU to its 26th Beanpot final in the past 29 years. They'll face Boston College for the crown.
A year after the Crimson (7-7-9; 6-4-7 ECAC) tagged an embarrassing 5-4 come-from-behind loss on BU, marking the first time the Terriers had been swept from the historic tournament in three decades, Parker's troops made certain that there would be no photo finishes for Harvard this February.
"Obviously, we're frustrated. They were able to get out ahead of us early," Crimson coach Ted Donato said. "And Millan made it awfully tough for us to get back into it."
Parker said he was surprised that both teams failed to bring the intensity that normally characterizes a Beanpot game, saying the early game was "a bit of a sleepwalk."
"Neither team seemed to be that engaged," he said, adding that Millan was the difference, just as he had been in BU's 4-3 win at Harvard on Jan. 14.
"We were fortunate to get out of here with the W, and we're fortunate to get to the Beanpot final," said Parker. "The object is to win a championship. The object is to keep winning. We did that."
Like the Crimson have done 14 times this season, Harvard had to fight from behind after surrendering the early lead. BU's Alex Chiasson tested Harvard netminder Steve Michalek with a nifty move cutting across the crease, but the freshman stopped him.
Fourteen seconds later, though, BU sophomore Matt Nieto put the Terriers up 1-0 on a sweeping wraparound. Collecting a feed from wingman Chiasson, Nieto drove hard behind the Harvard net before banking a shot off Crimson captain Ryan Grimshaw's leg and behind Michalek at 8:14.
The deficit was nothing new for Harvard, and the Crimson had already come back 11 times this season when giving up the first goal, recording four wins and seven ties in those games. And they kept firing away at Millan. The senior from Edmonton, Alberta, seemed unfazed, calmly stuffing a clean breakaway by Harvard freshman sensation Colin Blackwell at 17:50, then stopping Blackwell's snap shot bid in the opening minute of the second.
"We got some good looks at their goalie, and he came up with the big saves," Donato said.
Harvard's hole got deeper at 7:30 of the second. Sahir Gill collected a failed clearing attempt in the high slot and snapped a pass to Sean Escobedo, who shanked his one-timer. Megan, though, was stationed by the side of the net and slapped the puck between Michalek's legs for a 2-0 Terrier lead and the eventual game-winner.
Megan put the game out of reach 6½ minutes later. Picking up a feed from Gill, the junior drove to the net from the left boards, and using linemate Cason Hohmann as a decoy, deftly shifted the puck onto his backhand and roofed a shot over Michalek's glove to put BU up 3-0.
Harvard finally solved Millan at 15:27, when Marshall Everson hit Alex Killorn with a terrific feed in the low slot, and the red-hot senior from Montreal deposited the puck past Millan's blocker for a power-play strike and his 15th on the season.
Shortly afterward, Donato yanked Michalek in favor of sophomore Raphael Girard. The sophomore from Quebec stayed in net the final 22 minutes, but the Crimson couldn't get another puck past Millan. The Crimson stormed the BU zone over the game's final 10 minutes, but Millan and his BU defense held fast.
The win puts the Terriers into the Beanpot final for the 49th time in the tournament's 60-year history, with a chance to capture their 30th crown. Parker, meanwhile, ran his BU coaching record in the Beanpot to 58-19 overall, and 33-6 in the opening round.
"Last year left a bad taste in our mouth," Megan said. "We
knew we had to play a good game today and this team was in our
Brion O'Connor covers college hockey for ESPNBoston.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.