February 6, 2012

Megan leads BU over Harvard in Beanpot opener

By Andrew Merritt

BOSTON – At the dawn of the new year, Jack Parker regretted that he’d have to demote Wade Megan to the third line as Boston University got over some injury problems. 

Junior forward Wade Megan tallied twice in BU's 3-1 victory over Harvard on Monday. (Dave Arnold Photography)

“Whatever line he’s played on has been productive,” the BU coach said. “I remember thinking to myself after Christmas, it’s too bad we have to put Wade Megan back on the third line, he doesn’t deserve to be there, he’s been playing so well.

“And then it turns out I had a couple exits stage right,” the coach said wryly in reference to the departures of Charlie Coyle (Canadian major junior) and Corey Trivino (arrested, dismissed), “and all of a sudden we needed him back on the first line.”

There were zero regrets about that Monday night at TD Garden.

Megan scored two goals in a little over six minutes to propel BU to a 3-1 victory over Harvard in the evening’s first Beanpot semifinal, and on to next Monday’s final against the winner of the Boston College-Northeastern nightcap.

Matt Nieto staked the Terriers to an early lead, and 7:30 into the second period, Megan scored his first, stuffing a pass from Sean Escobedo between Harvard goaltender Steve Michalek’s left leg and the post, making it 2-0.

Six minutes and 32 seconds later, Megan chopped a puck away from a Harvard player to Sahir Gill, who fed it back to him along the wall in the left corner. Megan walked out untouched and seemingly unnoticed, roofing a backhand shot over Michalek’s left shoulder to give BU a 3-0 lead.

Alex Killorn put the Crimson on the board with 4:33 to go in the second after Marshall Everson picked Alex Chiasson’s pocket and fed him for a strike, but Harvard got no closer, and extends its Beanpot title drought to 19 years.

“We had some opportunities, some breakaways, some good looks,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato, who is 3-16 as the Crimson bench boss in the Beanpot, with just one appearance in the final. Credit to (BU goaltender Kieran Millan), he made some big saves.”

Millan (29 saves) indeed provided two of the game’s biggest highlights. Shortly after Nieto opened the scoring in the first period, Megan gave the puck away to dangerous Harvard freshman Colin Blackwell (North Andover, Mass.), who went in alone on Millan and very nearly beat him on the forehand. But Millan managed to stretch back with his left leg and deny the tying goal.

Millan also made a pair of saves with less than a minute left and Harvard buzzing with an extra attacker. The first shot appeared to go off Millan’s mask back to the slot, giving Alex Fallstrom a grade-A chance, but Millan swallowed up Fallstrom’s following shot to keep the score 3-1.

“I really felt that if we just somehow could have gotten that second (goal),” Donato said, it would have kind of taken some momentum and made the game a little bit different.”

Different is exactly what BU was looking for after two years of frustration. Had the Terriers lost Monday night, it would have marked the first time since 1983-85 that BU had gone three years without a Beanpot title – something that borders on sacrilege for the program that owns the most tournament titles (29).

Megan and his eight fellow juniors are the most tenured BU players who haven’t lifted the squat silver pot on the second Monday in February. Not only that, the Terriers were coming off one of their worst Beanpot performances in recent history, having lost in last year’s consolation final – the first time in 48 years BU didn't win at least one Beanpot game.

“Definitely, last year kind of left a bitter taste in our mouths,” Megan said. “We wanted to play in the late game next Monday, and we knew this team was in our way, so we had to play a good game.”

The Canton, N.Y., native and South Kent School product had just one point in his first two Beanpots – a goal in last year’s first-round loss to BC. Monday night, though, he was a presence throughout, taking a game-high five shots, blocking one shot and finishing with a plus-1 rating.

“He’s a very hard worker, doesn’t care what line he’s on, and he’s going to get a lot of ice time,” Parker said. “He’s out there for every (penalty kill), he plays every single power play. He’s having a terrific year.”

Andrew Merritt can be reached at MerrittNEHJ@gmail.com