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NU 4, Harvard 0

Some bad memories erased by the Huskies

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By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / February 8, 2011

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A relative newcomer to Boston, Mike McLaughlin remembered getting a quick indoctrination in the importance of the Beanpot during a 2008 recruiting trip to Northeastern University.

“When I came on my visit here, Northeastern lost to Harvard,’’ McLaughlin said. “It kind of stuck in my mind. [Tyler] McNeely and all the [Northeastern] seniors, they stressed that point. I don’t think it matters who you play. You just want to play your game and make it to the second game.’’

A 5-foot-9-inch, 175-pound junior center from Seaforth, Ontario, McLaughlin did precisely that in guiding the Huskies (9-11-6) to a 4-0 whitewashing of the Crimson (4-18-0) last night at TD Garden. McLaughlin, who had underachieved last season, scoring just one goal, led the way for Northeastern, scoring the first two goals, including a flukish one at 1:47 of the second period that ricocheted off the shoulder of Harvard goaltender Ryan Carroll and sparked a three-goal flurry.

“I’d been telling myself a lot lately to shoot the puck more, particularly this year because last year I didn’t have a lot of luck,’’ said McLaughlin, who has nine goals this season. “I seemed to hit a lot of posts and miss the net, so this year I’ve just been telling myself to shoot the puck and I saw a lane and it just bounced off the goalie and went straight in the air.’’

The puck sailed over Carroll’s head, landing behind him in the crease, and trickling across the goal line.

“We played a semblance of our game in the first period,’’ said Harvard coach Ted Donato, whose team entered the Beanpot on the heels of a 1-0 loss at No. 3 Yale Friday. “But after the second goal where they got a little bit of a bounce, you know, we really couldn’t mount much of an attack after that.’’

It was one of those shots that, a year ago, might not have found its mark. But this season, it seems, McLaughlin seems to be benefiting from a little puck luck.

“It’s been a relief this year, especially scoring early in the season,’’ McLaughlin said. “It’s kind of taken the weight off my shoulders and given me confidence and, yeah, scoring two goals tonight hopefully is going to help me out down the stretch.’’

It boosted the confidence of sophomore goaltender Chris Rawlings (8-9-6), who recorded his fifth shutout of the season and fourth in his last seven games, turning away 41 shots.

Northeastern earned its second trip to the Beanpot championship in three years, and seeks its first title since 1988.

The last time the Huskies made it to the final in 2009, they suffered a 5-2 loss to Boston University.

“Two years ago in the finals, you talk about goofy plays and pucks bouncing up in the air, but the BU-Northeastern game was a great game,’’ said Northeastern coach Greg Cronin, whose team entered the Beanpot on the heels of a 4-3 setback to Merrimack Friday.

“BU scored three shorthanded goals and a power-play goal and that just doesn’t happen, it’s never happened in the Beanpot,’’ Cronin said. “Last year, we played a terrific game against BU in the first round and [Alex] Chaisson shoots the puck and it squeezes through Chris’s shirt and trickles in the net just like McLaughlin’s did.

“Unfortunately, those were the memories for a lot of Northeastern people over the last 20 years. The near misses.’’

The Huskies, though, were determined to purge the painful memory of the Beanpot loss to Harvard three years ago when they struck for two more goals in the second. Senior center Steve Silva tallied his sixth of the season at 10:53 and freshman right winger Brodie Reid scored his fifth of the year on the power play at 16:19 in which he converted from the left circle off a pretty point-to-point pass from senior Wade MacLeod (two assists) one second after NU’s 5-on-3 man advantage had expired.

“Guys like Tyler and Wade and all the rest of the team, it was in their minds,’’ said Rawlings. “But that was in the past. Now it’s completely different. We’re not too worried about what happened in the Beanpot [three] years ago. It’s a new year and we’re going out and playing.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.