Boston College has offensive weapons every season. Whether it’s an elite forward, such as sophomore Johnny Gaudreau, or a gifted defenseman, such as freshman Michael Matheson, the Eagles rarely have trouble finding the back of the net.
In Monday night’s Beanpot semifinal game against Harvard, it wasn’t the high-scoring contingent that shined in the Eagles’ 4-1 victory, which sends them to the championship game for the fourth straight season. It was a humble sophomore left wing who normally plays the role as fourth-line checker and penalty killer.
On one of the biggest stages in Boston sports, Quinn Smith potted BC’s first two goals and helped his team advance to play Northeastern for the coveted trophy.
Smith couldn’t have picked a better time to have his first two-goal game for the first time since his USHL days in Youngstown.
His output equaled the total he scored in the first 24 games of the season. He now has five goals in 56 career contests.
“It means a lot,’’ said Smith, a 21-year-old native of Fairfield, Conn. “You always want to help your team win games. We have a lot of kids on this team who can score goals. It just so happened that tonight was my night to get a few and help the team get a victory. When I came in as a freshman, we had an unbelievable team so it was really hard to crack that lineup. Coaches basically just stayed on me and the players stayed on me and the captains just said, ‘Work hard, your time will come.’ ’’
It certainly did.
No. 5 BC (16-7-2) increased its winning streak over Harvard in Beanpot play to 10 games.
It has been an extraordinary run for the Eagles’ seniors. The six of them improved their record in the Beanpot to 7-0. The seniors, who are 2-0 against Harvard in first-round play, enter next week’s championship game with a 2-0 record against Northeastern.
There is plenty of incentive against the Huskies. It was NU that ended BC’s winning streak at 19 games dating to the NCAA championship game. NU beat the Eagles in the season opener although BC won the other two meetings.
Against Harvard, Matheson and senior right wing Steven Whitney scored the other goals for BC. It was Whitney’s 12th third-period goal of the season, tops in the nation.
“Just being able to play with the players I’m playing, whether it’s Johnny Gaudreau or Bill Arnold or Pat Mullane or Kevin Hayes, they’re all great players,’’ said Whitney. “They all have the ability to get me the puck and I just try to shoot it when I get it.’’
BC put the hammer down on Harvard in the late going of every period.
With just 28.8 seconds left in the first, Smith got the Eagles on the board when he scored on a rebound.
The faceoff was in the right circle of the Harvard zone and sophomore left wing Michael Sit was tossed from the circle. Senior right wing Brooks Dyroff stepped in and won the draw clean back to senior defenseman Patrick Wey. Wey fired a shot from the right point, which goaltender Raphael Girard (42 saves) stopped but Smith picked up the puck in the slot, waited a second, and then found the top left corner of the net for his third goal of the season.
Harvard nearly took the lead earlier in the period at 14:30 when senior center Luke Greiner took a shot from the left circle that struck the right pad of BC goalie Parker Milner (19 saves), ricocheted off the left post, and then caromed across the crease, striking Milner’s left skate before bouncing out of harm’s way.
Smith doubled BC’s lead on his second goal of the contest. With 1:42 left in the second, junior defenseman Isaac MacLeod fired the puck down from the right point. Arnold collected it and threw it in front. It pinballed out to Smith in the left circle and he beat Girard to make it 2-0.
Matheson made it a three-goal lead during a power play at 19:09 of the second to put Harvard in too deep a hole. Matheson one-timed a shot past Girard from the right circle that beat the goalie into the top right corner.
Harvard captain Danny Biega closed the gap to two goals when he scored from long range at 9:17 of the third but Whitney closed it out when he took advantage of a failed clearing attempt by Harvard and snapped a shot over the blocker of Girard.
Harvard has lost eight games in a row, has gone 1-13-1 in the last 15, and dropped to 5-15-1. The Crimson, who host Dartmouth Friday, hope to use the consolation game against Boston University next Monday to generate a spark for the stretch run. The Terriers are the only team Harvard has beaten since Nov. 16.
“It’s definitely been difficult,’’ said Biega. “We’ve faced a lot of adversity. It takes its toll at times but a lot of guys, we’re all sticking with it and we’re all showing up to the rink with a good attitude. No one’s feeling bad for us. We’ve got to dig ourselves out of this hole we’re in right now and I really think we’re making good steps and good strides towards doing that.’’