PROVIDENCE, R.I.-The Harvard men's hockey team wasn't quite robbed.
Let's just say the Crimson was molested.
Harvard (4-0-1, ECAC 4-0-1) barely escaped from Providence with a 4-2 victory over Brown (2-3-0, 2-3-0) after battling both the Bears and lousy officiating all night.
"Sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes you don't," Harvard goalie Allain Roy said. "I'm really confident with those guys out there. In the last two minutes, we got the bounces."
Not only did the Crimson come away with the win, but it also came away with sole possession of the ECAC lead, grabbing a one point advantage over Clarkson.
"Our game plan was to come out and play physical and not let Harvard get its transitition game going," Brown forward Joey Beck explained. "But we didn't get into the game until halfway into it and by then we had spotted them three goals."
Heading into the third period with a tenuuous 3-2 lead, the Crimson struggled against the physical and aggressive Bears. Harvard's offense failed to put Brown away despite four power play opportunities, including three 5-3 situations.
The Crimson made key mistakes throughout the game including bad penalties, errant passes, poorly timed forechecks and looked placid during the final period.
As Brown picked up the pace--pressuring the Crimson net and forechecking well--Harvard finally came alive halfway through the third period.
Unfortunately, the referees showed more than a little support for the home team.
The most egregious call came at 9:04 of the final period. On a power play, junior forward Matt Mallgrave slapped in a pass from roommate Steve Flomenhoft into the left corner of the net.
The goal, which would have put the Crimson up a comfortable 4-2, was called off because the net was off its moorings.
The net did go off the moorings, but the referees failed see that it was pushed off after the goal. Needless to say, a whistle was only blown after the goal had scored.
It wasn't until 19:53 that Harvard could finally breathe easily when senior forward Jim Coady scored an empty-net goal to secure the victory.
Brown netminder Brett Hay-wood put in an impressive performance recording 29 saves.
Roy notched 20 saves in the winning effort for the Crimson.
Not only did Harvard manage to win its fifth game in six tries, but, more significantly, it also matched its total number of road victories last year by taking its third away contest from home.
Harvard continued to apply the pressure on Brown in the second period. Early in the period, Burke chased Bear defender James O'Brien around the net, Brian Farrell stole the puck from O'Brien and then beat Haywood to his right to put the Crimson ahead, 2-0. All of Harvard's twelve fans on hand at Brown's Meehan Auditorium rose to a rousing 'sieve'chant.
As in the first period, Harvard skated circles around Brown's lackadaisical, lackluster lines. The game began to heat up physically as well, with Crimson and Bears skaters exchanging stiff forearms and bone-crushing checks. Harvard's defense continued to dump the puck out of the zone, and Roy came up with several key saves.
The Crimson went up 3-0 as freshman Ben Coughlin, skating in front of line mate Steve Martins, beat Haywood to his right.
It looked like the Crimson had put the game away, but Roy could not cover a loose puck in front of the goal. Chris Kaban wrested control of it and deposited the puck into, to make the score 3-1.
The Crimson would be sorry that it had let the sluggish Bears back into the game. On Brown's next power play, a Harvard bench minor, Bears' center, feisty 5'8", 170-lb Joey Beck, ripped a low, fast wrist shot by Roy's left pad to cut the Harvard lead to one goal, 3-2, leading into the second intermission.
In the first period Harvard had little trouble controlling the offensive momentum as the Crimson--with the welcome help of its blue liners--pounded Brown netminder Brett Haywood.
The Brown offense, in marked contrast, seemed unable to generate a consistent attack let alone connect on passes. Harvard outshot the Bears 15-5. Haywood, however, held firm against the Crimson, ceding only one goal the entire period.
At 4:35, junior forward Matt Mallgrave fired a hard slapshot from the blueline that bounced off Haywood's pads and ricocheted into the net.