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NCAA Tournament Northeast Regional: BC Continues Worcester Success, Downs Harvard

Boston College advanced to the Northeast Regional title game with a 4-1 win over Harvard on Friday at DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., a building in which the Eagles have now won 11 straight games.

Matt Dewkett

WORCESTER, Mass. -- A hallmark of Boston College head coach Jerry York's teams has been playing biggest in big games.

The Eagles endured a three-game Hockey East quarterfinal series with Vermont before falling to Northeastern in last Friday's semifinal round.

It was do or die for BC this time, and it delivered.

The Eagles played a complete game in their biggest game to date, advancing to play for a Northeast Regional title with a 4-1 victory over crosstown rival Harvard on Friday night at DCU Center.

"Winning is difficult, but winning at this level is extremely difficult," BC head coach Jerry York said. "I thought Harvard posed a lot of problems for us tonight. ... But I thought we limited a lot of their offensive chances. I thought Thatcher (Demko) played outstanding in goal for us."

With the victory, the Eagles move to the regional title game to face Minnesota Duluth in Saturday's 9 p.m. regional title contest. The teams have met twice before in the NCAA Tournament, most recently in a 4-0 BC victory four years ago for a regional title.

The Eagles jumped on the scoreboard first at the 7:59 mark as sophomore Alex Tuch jammed away at a loose puck at the top of Harvard goaltender Merrick Madsen's crease.

Freshman Miles Wood did all the work en route to junior Austin Cangelosi's 19th goal of the season at the 18:58 mark of the frame. Wood down the wing and around the net from the right side, putting the puck on goal for Canglelosi to tip home BC's second goal of the night.

With junior Matthew Gaudreau out of the lineup due to injury, the Eagles had to do some line shuffling. York moved Tuch to a line with junior Ryan Fitzgerald and freshman Colin White, and it paid dividends in a fourth consecutive game with a point for Tuch.

"Matty is a big asset that we lost for the weekend when he had an injury against Northeastern," Tuch said. "But I think we had a really good and hard week of practice, so the lines didn’t matter much to us as long as we were working hard."

Demko was equal to the task on all 12 Harvard shots on goal in the opening frame, but no save was better than his extended kick save on Harvard's Kyle Criscuolo with 16.3 seconds to play.

The Crimson dumped the puck in from just inside the blue line, but the puck took an odd bounce off the back wall and landed right on Criscuolo's stick.

"This was an outstanding game for him, but he’s had a number of these type of games over the course of the year," said York, whose team is in the midst of an 11-game winning streak at DCU Center. "You get to NCAA’s and you expect him to play well. He’s become a real leader for us and I thought he made some outstanding saves tonight."

Tuch extended the Eagles' lead with his second goal of the game and 17th of the season just 1:59 into the second period. The New York native and Minnesota Wild prospect took a beautiful outlet feed from defenseman Scott Savage, coasted ahead of the Harvard defense, and beat Madsen under the crossbar to his glove side.

The Crimson made it a game again at the 9:50 mark of the middle frame as sophomore Seb Lloyd cut the deficit to two goals, taking advantage of a turnover. Classmate Jake Horton sent a backhand pass to Lloyd, who cut to the front of the net and flipped a great shot over Demko for his seventh goal of the season.

It was a goal that brought head coach Ted Donato's Crimson team back to life, but the Eagles proved to be just too tough in what wound up as their 27th win of the season.

"They made some key plays early in the game and some big saves later in the game to keep us at bay and not allow us to come back," said Donato, whose team finishes the season with a 19-11-4 record. "I thought (BC) played an excellent game."

The Eagles played stifling defense in the final frame, holding Harvard to a handful of shots for much of it and nine for the duration.

The Crimson had chances with Madsen pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage, but Cangelosi finished his third two-goal game of the season at 17:33. He broke out of the offensive zone off a feed from Chris Calnan and landed his 20th marker of the year into an empty net.

Friday's game was a tough end for a Harvard senior class led by co-captains Jimmy Vesey and Kyle Criscuolo. After an ECAC title last year and a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, things are looking bright for the Crimson looking ahead.

"The program has accomplished a lot in the past two years and it will only keep doing better things. We are very proud," Criscuolo said. "This game still hasn’t sunk in, but we are very happy with what we have accomplished."