The last time Harvard won the Beanpot, goaltender Kyle Richter was a few months shy of his seventh birthday. When the Crimson take on Boston College in tonight's championship game at TD Banknorth Garden, the sophomore will try to give his school its first title since 1993.
Last Monday night, Richter made 18 saves as Harvard scored three times in the first 7 minutes 2 seconds and beat Northeastern, 3-1, in a semifinal contest.
"It was a great game for everybody on the team right from the start of the period," said Richter. "We're going to take that in stride obviously, and this week we've been focusing ahead and really just focusing on ourselves and how we can play. We're definitely preparing for BC but more importantly preparing how we can put in a solid 60 minutes."
Richter said the scoring flurry against NU gave his team a boost and the Crimson hope to employ the same strategy against the high-scoring Eagles.
"It's always a nice surprise for sure," he said about the early trio of tallies. "Especially because statistically we'd been a low-scoring team and more of a defensive-minded team, so three goals right off the start was a nice positive for us and it built momentum and took away Northeastern's, which is what they've thrived on all year - high emotion and high momentum. We look to do that against BC, to take the wind out of their sails right away."
The Crimson played at Union Friday night. They got ahead, 3-0, in that one also, but struggled in the last five minutes and hung on to win, 3-2. Union had 16 of its 26 shots in the third.
"It was a great game for us until the last five minutes or so," said Richter with a laugh. "Union was pressing hard and they got a lucky bounce for their first goal. The guys kept their composure, though, and we held tight to keep the win.
"That was their first loss at home in league play so we were definitely excited to beat them. They were a hot team and we knew we had to come out right from the start, which we did again, like we did against Northeastern, so it was a good all-around effort."
Coach Ted Donato said he believes Richter has the skills to help shut down the BC attack.
"I think he's had a real good year for us," said Donato. "He's really taken a step forward. He got off to an all-world start for us in the first 10 games where he was leading the country in goals-against average and save percentage, all the key goaltending numbers. Lately, he's played very well.
"He's a guy who is very athletic. When he's on, he makes a lot of things look easy and makes two or three big saves that enable us to win games. He has certainly come up with the big saves when we've needed them, and that's a great characteristic."
Northeastern rebounded well from its flat loss to Harvard, beating Merrimack Friday night by a 4-2 score. The Huskies took a 3-0 lead into the third period. Goalie Brad Thiessen wound up with 31 saves, including 18 in the final frame. That victory gives NU 13 for the year, 10 in Hockey East. That matches the team's overall win total from last year and is one more league win than in 2006-07. The Huskies have an equal number of goals for (66) as goals against, and it is the same as they had through 25 games last season. The only difference is that NU is four wins ahead of last year's pace . . . Boston University also bounced back after losing to BC in their Beanpot semifinal, knocking off UMass-Lowell, 6-2, Friday night. Junior right wing Brandon Yip had a career-high four points (one goal, three assists) against the River Hawks as BU improved to 9-14-4 overall and 8-8-3 in league play. BU and Northeastern square off in the Beanpot consolation this afternoon at 5. In their only meeting this season so far, the teams battled to a 2-2 overtime tie at Matthews Arena Nov. 10.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at Marrapese@globe.com.