BOSTON -- Beanpot fans couldn't have asked for much more in Tuesday night's tournament opener at TD Garden.
It took a bit longer than expected but junior Danny O'Regan scored his 18th goal of the season 2:18 into the second overtime to lift No. 3 Boston University to its first Beanpot win in 1,093 days - a 4-3 triumph over No. 6 Harvard.
"It was a phenomenal opening to the Beanpot," BU head coach David Quinn said. "Harvard is a heck of a hockey team, well-coached. ... We were kind of expecting a one-goal game or a game that would come down to the last minute. I certainly didn't envision double overtime, but I'm proud of our guys."
For the winning goal, senior Evan Rodrigues sent a centering pass out to the Needham, Mass. native junior for a high shot over the shoulder of Harvard senior Steve Michalek. The goal lifted BU to its first championship game appearance since 2010.
"I've been lucky enough to play with Evan for a while now," O'Regan said. "I know he's a great player, so I just kind of put my head down, went to the net and knew he would find me. He did just that."
Michalek set a new Beanpot record and his career-high mark with 63 saves, becoming the first Crimson goalie to reach the 60-save plateau since Grant Blair in a 6-6 tie against Boston College on Dec. 21, 1984.
The first period was not the most aesthetically pleasing, but the teams played some excellent back-and-forth hockey and finished in a 1-1 tie.
BU killed off a pair of penalties in the fifth and 15th minutes of the frame before taking a 1-0 lead at the 16:50 mark. Rodrigues fed a pass through the net mouth where classmate Cason Hohmann was on the spot to bang in a loose puck for his fourth goal of the season.
Just 1:15 later, Crimson junior Jimmy Vesey beat BU freshman defender John MacLeod wide and fed a loose puck to classmate Kyle Criscuolo on a rebound in front.
Harvard scored the first two goals of the second period to take a two-goal lead before the Terriers responded to tie the game at 3-3 entering the final regulation break.
After a nine-game absence, sophomore Alexander Kerfoot made his presence felt just 22 seconds into the second as he sent a pass from Criscuolo behind BU junior goaltender Matt O'Connor for his fifth goal of the season.
Kerfoot's classmate Sean Malone, in the Crimson lineup for just the fourth time this season, also found the back of the net in the second. At 8:28, a loose puck found its way to the Buffalo Sabres prospect in the high slot for a long shot that beat O'Connor who was not well positioned for a shot.
The Terriers scored twice in less than five minutes at the close of the second, led off by a rebound effort from freshman Nikolas Olsson at 15:34. The Wakefield, Mass. native sophomore Nick Roberto missed a breakaway high on Michalek to start the play before junior Matt Lane centered for him to set up the goal.
BU tied the score with 23.5 seconds remaining in the second as Hohmann benefitted from a turnover and fed junior Ahti Oksanen for his 17th goal of the season and second in four games.
They didn't know it at the time, but it was certainly one of the longest games Hohmann would ever played but the senior assistant captain said they are the moments for which a hockey player lives.
"Obviously, we were getting pretty tired out there after two overtimes," Hohmann said. "We've been training for these moments all season long and all summer long, so we were definitely conditioned out there. ... We just knew we could battle, roll our lines ... for no matter how long the game was."
Neither side found the back of the net in the third period or the initial overtime session, despite BU holding a 34-14 shots on goal edge in those two frames.
O'Regan lifted the Terriers to their first win over Harvard since Feb. 6, 2012 with the winning goal, subsequently giving him his first victory over Harvard senior brother Tommy in their sixth meeting.
"I thought we really had a lot of resiliency and resolve today," Quinn said. "There was a point early in the second where it looked like a pond hockey game and we were giving up way too many odd-man rushes, and then I thought there was a point where we really settled down and started playing responsible. It allowed us to creep back into the game."
With its fifth consecutive win, BU improves to 8-1-3 since the start of December and will make a short trip north to UMass Lowell on Friday night. Harvard resumes ECAC play with a road pair against longtime New England rivals Yale and Brown.