Northeastern finished in fourth place at the 60th annual Beanpot Tournament after a 3-2 loss to Harvard on Monday afternoon at the TD Garden. The Huskies have finished fourth 30 times in the tournament's history.
Sophomore Luke Eibler turned in a two-point effort with Northeastern's 15th power play goal of the game and an assist on junior Robbie Vrolyk's fifth tally in four games. Juniors Alex Tuckerman, Justin Daniels and Drew Ellement were the Huskies' other point getters in Monday's consolation game.
Second-year goaltender Clay Witt faced a barrage of Crimson pucks in his first-career Beanpot start, steering aside 36 shots in his second loss of the season. Steve Michalek upped his overall mark to 7-6-8 with 24 stops in the victory.
Northeastern was outshot, 39-26, but remained disciplined as the Huskies committed just one penalty the entire game. The Huskies converted on one of their three opportunities.
Within the first three minutes, each team traded quality blows. Junior Alex Tuckerman provided senior Mike McLaughlin with a feed from behind the net, but Harvard's defense swatted the disc away before any damage was done.
Dan Ford and Patrick McNally both clanged the right pipe from the high slot, respectively, at the 3:30 and 6:00 minute mark of the fist stanza before 1:23 of 4-on-4 action presented itself. McLaughlin and Alex Killorn were issued holding and cross-checking penalties at 8:04 and 8:42, in that order. Neither team scored within that time, but the Huskies were all over Michalek on both posts.
Harvard used the momentum from the penalty kill and channeled it into the first strike of the game at 11:44 of the first period. The Crimson gained possession thanks to Ryan Grimshaw and gave the puck to Tommy O'Regan at the top of the left circle. O'Regan zipped it through the crease where Killorn received the pass, crafted a quick deke around Witt and put Harvard on the board, 1-0.
Witt came up huge to start the second period, denying the Crimson three times in the first minute and half of the stanza. Sophomore Luke Eibler relayed the puck out of NU's zone, linking up with Tuckerman in the neutral zone. Tuckerman made the routine pass to Vrolyk in Harvard territory and Vrolyk converted the sharp wrist shot from the right slot at 4:07 to tie the game up, 1-1.
The Huskies offered up the next grade-A chance with about five minutes left thanks to the craft of junior Steve Morra and sophomore Braden Pimm. Morra made a deft move through the netural zone and slid a backhand pass to Pimm in the slot. Pimm went for the backhand, but Michalek poke checked it away to keep the game locked, 1-1.
Just under two minutes to go in the second frame, O'Regan hit Alex Fallstrom in stride on Harvard's blue line and after carting the puck the length of the sheet, Fallstrom made it 2-1. Fallstrom created separation from Northeastern and duped Witt with a perfectly placed wrist shot at 18:13.
Vrolyk near tallied his second goal of the night in front of Michalek five minutes into the third period, but unfortunately it was Harvard that attacked next with a short-handed tally at 13:44.
Valek was sent off for rouging at 12:13, but Max Everson dug a puck out of HU's end and sent it along the boards to Colin Moore. Moore relayed the puck up to Luke Greiner on the red line and Greiner beat Witt with a strong shot from the right circle at 13:44 for the two-goal lead, 3-1.
With Northeastern's power play still intact from the Valek rough, Eibler netted a wrister 23 seconds later at 14:07 to cut it back to a one-goal game. Juniors Drew Ellement and Justin Daniels worked the puck up to Eibler isolated at the blue line. Eibler flung the disc towards Michalek and it trickled through his legs after it pinballed around in traffic to make it 3-2.
Northeastern maintained pressure and eventually pilled Witt with a minute left in regulation, but Harvard kept the Huskies from forcing the game into overtime and claimed the consolation game by a 3-2 count.
Northeastern will settle into Matthews Arena for five of its last six regular season conference games starting with a pair against Providence starting on Friday, Feb. 17 at 7:00 p.m. The Huskies only game away from Matthews Arena of the regular season occurs at Boston University on Friday, March 2.
- Northeastern is now 18-23 all-time against Harvard in the Beanpot and 9-11 in the consolation game.
- Sophomore defenseman Luke Eibler scored his first goal of the 2011-12 season and second in the Beanpot Tournament. The Pinckney, Mich. native also added an assist for his second multi-point game of the season with the last occurring on Oct. 14, 2011 against New Hampshire. Eibler's goal also counted as his second-career power play tally.
- Robbie Vrolyk registered his fifth goal in four games and his first-career goal in the Beanpot Tournament.
- Sophomore goaltender Clay Witt stopped 36 shots in his first-career Beanpot start.