Paws, Northeastern University’s mascot, fell down on the ice of TD Garden during the first intermission of the Huskies’ matchup against Harvard. The mascot laid on the ice, sprawled out on all fours, seemingly helpless.
However, Paws was no indication of how Northeastern would come out of the intermission.
The Huskies’ players skated out of the locker room and hung a four on the scoreboard against its opponents from Harvard.
In the first round of the 59th annual Beanpot Tournament, Northeastern blanked Harvard 4-0 to advance to next Monday’s finals, where they will play the Boston College Eagles.
“We’re one step closer to another title,” said Northeastern forward Mike McLaughlin. The junior netted two goals on the day for the Huskies, including the game-winner that came off his first tally in the opening period. Northeastern has not won the Beanpot since 1988.
Skating shorthanded down the ice on a two-on-one, McLaughlin elected to shoot instead of passing to his fellow Husky, sniping a wrist shot under the arm of Harvard goalie Ryan Carroll, just as a Harvard power play expired. The strike provided Northeastern with its first goal of the game.
“I’ve been telling myself to shoot more,” McLaughlin said.
The junior forward’s goal came in what was an up-and-down first period, with Harvard out-shooting the Huskies 17-10 and seemingly well in the game.
Then, McLaughlin struck again in the opening minutes of the second, doubling the Huskies’ lead. He took a pass from teammate Rob Dongara and rifled a shot that deflected off Carroll, careening into the air and floating into the net off the goalie’s backside. Ted Donato, Harvard’s head coach, said the goal subdued the Crimson attack.
“After the second goal, we really couldn’t mount much of an attack,” Donato said.
Northeastern kept the Crimson off the board, playing strong in its own zone. Goaltender Chris Rawlings made 41 saves for Northeastern, consistently denying Harvard anything it threw at the net.
“A shutout is great, but I was more concerned with winning the game,” said Rawlings, who said he was able to breathe easier as the Huskies continued to pad their lead.
“Goals make my job easier,” said the sophomore from Vancouver. For the Canadian native, the Beanpot used to be an unfamiliar tournament, but he now understands the true magnitude of the games.
“Being far away in Vancouver, you don’t really know a lot about the Beanpot,” said Rawlings. “But once you get [to Boston], you find out its one of the biggest tournaments in all of college hockey.”
Now, for Rawlings and his teammates, the focus is on BC, and their coach knows just how big a Beanpot championship would be for the school.
“They would have to get [Northeastern police] and the Boston police on our campus if we won,” said head coach Greg Cronin.