BOSTON — Not even a few minutes into Monday night’s consolation game at the 67th annual Beanpot Tournament at TD Garden, and it was evident that one team clearly understood what was on the line.
It was not the one representing Hockey East.
The Boston University Terriers turned in another disappointing performance in what’s become a season with far too many of them in a 5-2 loss to the No. 18 Harvard Crimson. Doomed by a slow start in which BU was outshot 32-14 in the first two periods, the Crimson outplayed the Terriers in every metric imaginable.
“Harvard played a really good game, but I can’t say that for our club,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said.
“We were more competitive in practice yesterday than we were tonight. Lack of focus, lack of care. Pretty poor first two periods. Third period, we came to life. It was nice to see some of the captains and the leaders get on some of the other guys about how they were competing and how they were playing. Harvard’s a good hockey team, and you can’t play a Division I hockey game and expect to win when you don’t show up, especially [with] a start time of 4:30.”
David Quinn, who has since gone on to become the head coach of the New York Rangers, struggled in his first year at the helm of the Terriers back in 2013-14 when he took over for the legendary Jack Parker, leading the team to a 10-21-4 record before putting up four straight 20-win seasons, NCAA Tournament berths and appearances in the Beanpot final.
The well-liked O’Connell, who was a standout as a player with the Terriers and then returned as a coach in 2014, seems to be on track for a similar disappointment in his first year as bench boss. Barring a miracle run in the Hockey East Tournament, BU is hopelessly out of contention for an NCAA Tournament berth, with Monday’s loss putting the Terriers at 10-14-3 with seven regular season games remaining.
The Beanpot consolation game meant little in the way of any sort of tangible takeaway for Harvard, but was a must-win for its position in the Pairwise rankings that are so crucial for teams needing an at-large tourney berth. The Crimson played like it, fighting off a late third-period charge by the Terriers that cut their deficit to 2-1 with 13:49 remaining in regulation on a goal by Patrick Curry.
Too little, too late.
“They had more of a care factor in their game,” O’Connell said.
“They were more competitive; they were skating harder, they were stopping on pucks and we were skating by pucks and hoping it was going to be easy. We wanted a nice game of shinny, and they wanted a real hockey game. You can’t come out and play a good hockey team—or even an average hockey team—if you’re not ready to compete. Normally, at this time of year, the team that competes harder usually has the better chance, and we didn’t quite do it. It’s frustrating, because that’s probably one of the only things we talked about, was showing up on time and being ready to go.
“They were lackadaisical walking out to the ice, and then just our first shift … It wasn’t a good first period, and the second was worse. The third, we showed signs of life. We tried to mix some of the lines up and get something going, and I thought we played pretty well through stretches of the third. But you can’t win 20 minutes of a hockey game.”
Boston University sits seventh in the 11-team conference with an 8-7-2 record in Hockey East play. The team finishes its slate with all in-conference games, starting Friday night with a home-and-home series against UConn that concludes the next night at Agganis Arena. Perhaps for this series, we’ll see return of sorely-missed senior captain Bobo Carpenter, who has been out of action since Jan. 26.
Mike Ashmore has 17 years of experience covering professional and college sports. You can follow him on all social media channels at @mashmore98.