Fourth-ranked Boston College earned its third consecutive Frozen Four berth and fifth overall Saturday, skating over and around an unconvincing fifth-ranked Harvard team, 3-1, before 920 at Conte Forum.
Both teams knew the winner of the NCAA quarterfinal matchup would get a trip to Minneapolis next weekend, with the top-ranked juggernaut from Minnesota likely their next opponent (the Gophers won in triple overtime Saturday night). At times, they played as if they were thinking about the trouble ahead.
Nonetheless, the Eagles were able to take advantage of their opportunities, and Harvard was not. Facing a wobbly Crimson defense and a freshman goalie who was fighting the puck, BC (27-6-3) got two easy goals before Alex Carpenter punctuated BC’s effort with a nifty tip to make it 3-1 at 15:04 of the third period. Harvard (24-7-3) mustered its strongest offense late in the third but BC’s Corinne Boyles (30 saves) was unyielding.
“I thought our first forecheckers were great, on every line, which really helped keep them in their zone when we needed to,’’ said BC coach Katie King Crowley. “And I thought that led to our goals and led to the positive energy.’’
Harvard started off with a power-play goal at 16:00 of the first period, Mary Parker’s wrist shot from the right circle finding its way between Boyles’s pads.
But BC got the score back a minute later when Haley Skarupa carried the puck into the Harvard zone, tried to maneuver around a defender, and ended up pushing the puck toward the net. Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmeyer put her glove down to cover the puck, but it slid underneath.
BC grabbed another goal at 2:11 of the second when Caitlin Walsh’s soft wrist shot from the right dot got past Maschmeyer to the far side.
“Our kids really beared down and created some of those opportunities themselves,’’ Crowley said, “whether they were pretty or not.’’
“I thought BC took advantage of their opportunities when they were presented to them,’’ said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “They handled the momentum shifts of the game better than we did.
“Again, you create your own luck with your hustle and the tempo of your game and we just didn’t have it today. We were just a step behind or hesitant or whatever it was and they made it very difficult for us in our own end.’’
Maschmeyer (1.35 goals against average) was named most outstanding player at the ECAC tournament a week ago and Harvard entered Saturday allowing just 1.15 goals per game, second best in the nation.
“It was not our day,’’ said Stone.
BC’s defense frustrated the Crimson.
“We were picking up a lot of sticks, blocking a lot of shots, just getting our sticks on pucks,’’ said Boyles. “They were trying to get shots and they were going wide or up because we were in their way. The defense definitely made my job easier.’’
BC was outshot, 31-24, but persistently pressured the Harvard defense. Carpenter, the Hockey East Player of the Year as a sophomore, set up the goal that she scored, winning a faceoff to the left of Maschmeyer and getting the puck back to Blake Bolden at the right point. Bolden flung a shot at the net, and by then Carpenter had moved in front. She got her stick on the puck to tip it past Maschmeyer.
“I knew if I shot it, it was probably going to get blocked,’’ Bolden said. “I saw [Carpenter] busting her butt to get to the net so I just threw it at her, and I knew most likely she would put it in the net.’’
BU 5, Clarkson 3 — The third-ranked Terriers (27-5-3) advanced to the Frozen Four for the second straight season and second time in program history. The Hockey East champions will carry a nine-game win streak into Minneapolis, where they will face No. 8 Mercyhurst in the semifinals on Friday night.
BU tallied three times in the third period at Walter Brown Arena, with Sarah Lefort accounting for two goals, including an empty-netter with 59 seconds remaining. Marie-Philip Poulin and Jenelle Kohanchuk each had a goal and an assist for the Terriers.
Kerrin Sperry stopped 34 shots by the sixth-ranked Golden Knights (28-10-0). Clarkson’s Erica Howe had 22 saves.
Mercyhurst 4, Cornell 3 — Jenna Dingeldein’s goal 4:49 into overtime took down the second-ranked Big Red (27-6-1) and sent the visiting Lakers (29-6-1) into the semifinals.
Minnesota 3, North Dakota 2 — Rachael Bona’s goal at 18:51 of the third overtime gave the host Gophers their 47th consecutive win dating to last season. Minnesota (39-0-0) beat North Dakota (26-12-1) for the sixth time this season.
Elmira 1, Middlebury 0 — The Soaring Eagles (24-5-1) denied the Panthers (20-8-2) their fourth Division 3 national title as Lauren Sullivan made 30 saves in the final in Superior, Wis. Taylor Steadman scored in the second period.