BOSTON (AP) — Clayton Keller scored a key short-handed goal midway through the second period and No. 3 Boston University beat seventh-ranked Boston College 3-1 on Monday night to advance to the Beanpot final.
The Terriers (19-7-2) will try for their tournament-best 31st title next Monday night when they face No. 4 Harvard. It’s BU’s 30th championship appearance in 35 years.
Clay Anderson, Tyler Moy and Luke Esposito scored in the third period and the Crimson held on to beat Northeastern 4-3 in the first semifinal. Harvard (16-5-2) is seeking its 11th tourney title and first since 1993.
It’s the third time this season that BU beat fellow-Hockey East member BC (18-10-2). The Eagles had captured six of the last seven Beanpots, including last year with a 1-0 overtime win over the Terriers.
With many in the local sports landscape still beaming over the Patriots’ historic comeback for their fifth Super Bowl title, greater Boston’s four local Division 1 collegiate hockey programs took center stage for the night in the annual tourney that takes place at TD Garden on the first two Mondays in February.
The second semifinal had a much livelier atmosphere, with the students of the two longtime rival schools — located about a mile apart on Commonwealth Avenue — chanting at each other numerous times: ‘We can’t hear you!’ ‘Why So Quiet?’ and ‘Safety School!’ were a few of the louder ones.
There was one thing they both cheered for, though: whenever any fan wearing Patriots’ clothing was shown on the Jumbotron.
BU led 2-0 before BC sliced it to one when Austin Cangelosi scored from in close 6:59 into the second, but Keller stole the puck near center ice, broke in alone and slipped a shot under goalie Joseph Woll’s pads.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson gave BU a 1-0 lead 4:29 into the first. Chad Krys’ power-play goal made it 2-0 early in the second.
Harvard had lost in the first semifinal game in each of the past three tournaments.
“It’ll be cool to come out for warmups and they’ll be more than like seven people in the stands,” Crimson senior Alexander Kerfoot said. “We haven’t played a night game yet.
For the last three years it’s been pretty demoralizing playing in that consolation game. Nobody wants to be a part of it.”
Harvard advanced to its first final since 2008, and this year’s senior class has yet to play a late game in the tournament.
“I don’t think you can experience the Beanpot until you have a chance to play in the final,” coach Ted Donato said. “I think it’s an important step for our group.”
Harvard is unbeaten in its last six games, going 5-0-1 to climb in the national rankings.
Adam Gaudette had two goals for Northeastern (11-12-5), which hasn’t won the tournament since 1988 and has just four titles overall.
“I don’t think it was anything Harvard did — no disrespect to Harvard — we didn’t skate. Plain and simple,” Huskies coach Jim Madigan said.
As has been the case for the last dozen or so years, turnout was light for the first game, and the echoes of sticks hitting pucks reverberated around a roughly third-full building.
Anderson made it 2-1 by firing a slap shot between Ryan Ruck’s pads from the left point for a power-play score at 6:39. Esposito’s goal came short-handed, making it 4-1 just under six minutes later.
NU made it 4-3 on Gaudette’s second goal with 1:33 to play, but Harvard held on.
Nolan Stevens’ power-play goal had cut it to 4-2.