February 5, 2013

Unsung Eagle Smith shines in Beanpot spotlight

By Andy Merritt

Bill Arnold skates over to congratulate Quinn Smith on one of his two goals against Harvard Monday night. (Dave Arnold Photography)

BOSTON – Quinn Smith had three goals in his college career before Monday night.

Now he’s got five.

Smith’s pair led Boston College to a 4-1 win over Harvard in the late Beanpot semifinal, sending the Eagles to their fourth straight final and seventh of the last eight.

The sophomore from Fairfield, Conn., doubled his goal total for the season with the strikes, which came in a runaway offensive effort from BC. The Eagles finished the game with 46 shots, overcoming a strong performance by Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard. They’ll meet Northeastern in the final on Feb. 11, the second time in three years BC and NU will play for the title.

Smith played the left wing on the Eagles’ fourth line Monday, where he’s been asked to provide some “energy” – that euphemism dedicated to players who don’t show up much on the score sheet. But he was more than happy to give the Eagles some scoring, and actually extended his personal point streak to three games.

“It means a lot,” Smith said. “You always want to try to help the team win games, and we have a lot of kids on this team who can score goals. It just so happened it was my night to get a few and help the team get a victory.”

The high-flying Eagle offense doesn’t usually rely on its fourth line to do the scoring, but Steven Whitney (Reading, Mass.), who scored his 17th goal of the year to polish the victory off, was happy to see one of the unsung players in the spotlight.

“It’s awesome. Everyone’s happy for him, everyone’s proud of him,” said Whitney after the game, as coach Jerry York reached over and gave Smith a fatherly pat on the shoulder. “Part of Quinn’s role is to bring energy to this team, and he does it every night. When he scored those two goals, it brought even more energy tonight. It was great to see.

The Eagles turned on the heat early, taking 15 shots on Girard’s goal in the first period, including Smith’s with just under 29 seconds to go. On an offensive zone faceoff, Smith found himself tied up with a Crimson player as the puck came to Patrick Wey at the point. Wey’s blast didn’t make it through the legs in front of the net, but Smith jumped on the deflection and put it past Girard to start the scoring.

“I think the first goal was a bit of a heartbreaker for us,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “We had played pretty well in the first half of the first period, had some excellent chances, and for the most part the period was even until BC got on the power play.”

Girard was incredible at times in the second period, but still came away with two more goals allowed. After the Eagles killed off a couple of Wey penalties, Smith scored his second of the night. Bill Arnold found Smith with a cross-ice pass, and the Crimson were caught flat-footed as Smith snuck it between Girard and the near post with 1:42 to go in the second.

BC’s Michael Matheson made it 3-0 less than a minute later, playing catch with Teddy Doherty on the power play before putting a rocket one-timer over Girard’s glove side shoulder.

Danny Biega finally got the Crimson on the board in the third period, firing a wrist shot from the point off of an offensive faceoff that snaked through traffic and beat Parker Milner (19 saves) with 10:43 to go, but that was all the shouting the Harvard offense had in it. The Crimson didn’t take their 20th shot of the game until the waning moments.

“I never felt safe in this game,” York said. “It was 3-0, and Biega scored from the blue line, now it’s 3-1, and if the puck goes in [for Harvard], now it’s a one-goal game. They kept me on edge.”

Whitney salted it away for BC with 5:02 to go, nicely thieving a Harvard outlet pass, racing in and beating Girard to make it 4-1.

The BC seniors head into next Monday’s final with a chance to sweep all four Beanpots in their BC careers. It’d be the longest string of consecutive titles since Boston University won six straight from 1995-2000.

“It would mean a lot to me to win four in a row,” Whitney said. “I grew up watching the Beanpot, it’s very special to me, and I know the rest of the seniors feel the same way. Northeastern’s definitely a very competitive opponent, they’re starting to get hot, and we need to be well prepared for them for Monday.”

Twitter: @A_Merritt
Email: MerrittNEHJ@gmail.com