It’s not often that the early semifinals are the most dramatic of the night, but that’s exactly what we experienced last Monday.
The Crimson made easy work of the Eagles early in the first game but had to endure massive pressure in the third period to win 4-3 in overtime.
Harvard got to work early, putting one past Mitch Benson that was eventually nullified, but stuck by when Marek Hejduk scored in the middle of the first with a smooth top shelf finish. From there, the Crimson kept the offense going when a deflection from Mike Posma to get BC on the board was booked by two power-play goals from Matthew Coronato, each scoring one-time blasts from the left circle.
In the third, the Eagles busted, beating Harvard 22-2 in that period. Eventually, they broke through Gibson for the second time when Nikita Nesterenko danced through the defense with a smooth individual performance five minutes from time. Then Cutter Gauthier equalized at 3-3, 1:31 on the clock.
In back-and-forth overtime, it was Hejduk who pulled off the heroics, ending a one-timer by 1.5 seconds on a 2-on-1 counterattack with Alex Laferriere.
HARVARD HOCKEY STORY 🚨🚨
MAREK HEJDUK SEND THE CRIMSON INTO THE FINAL WITH 1.5 LEFT IN OT
📺NESN #GoCrimson | #OneCrimson pic.twitter.com/AdGub1FpbP
— Harvard Men’s Hockey (@HarvardMHockey) February 7, 2023
At the nightcap, Northeastern capitalized on a sluggish BU start and late clutch performance from Devon Levi to earn the 3-1 win and avenge last year’s championship loss.
Aidan McDonough started in the first minute with six minutes to go by picking up the top left corner from inside the left circle from a nice Huskies pass. Jakov Novak doubled the lead to just 1:48 in the second when he conceded on the doorstep.
As the Terriers pressed, Matt Brown put them on the board, pulling the keeper 1:51 left, but it was to no avail. Levi stood tall as he stopped 25 shots in the final two periods, including 15 of 16 in the third, and Hunter McDonald added his first career goal from the empty net with 30 seconds remaining.
Something with that clutch gene.#HowlinHuskies pic.twitter.com/ZHXhjoOu6x
– Northeastern Men’s Ice Hockey (@GoNUMhockey) February 8, 2023