The biggest player on the Harvard men’s hockey team came up big last weekend.
After leading the Crimson in scoring chances through the first 10 games but having only one goal to show for it, sophomore Dennis Packard—a 6’5, 225-pound winger—received his due in Saturday night’s 5-2 victory at Brown.
Playing alongside junior Brett Nowak and freshman Rob Flynn, Packard was responsible for two first-period tallies that shifted the momentum in Harvard’s favor.
With Harvard trailing 1-0 midway through the opening frame and Brown controlling the play, Packard, Nowak, and Flynn picked up the pressure on their forecheck and forced a turnover behind Brown goaltender Brian Eklund.
Nowak was able to gain control of the puck and push it along to Flynn, who found Packard along Eklund’s left side. Packard calmly skated the puck out to just below the hash marks before putting a hard wrister past Eklund to tie the game 12:18 into the period.
“Flynn had pushed it along to me. I just came out and tried to get it to the far post,” Packard said of his first goal since Harvard’s Nov. 17 win over Colgate.
A little over seven minutes later, Packard put his team ahead for good.
With the game still tied at one, Nowak sent in a shot from above the right faceoff circle that was tipped in front by Flynn. The puck found its way to the waiting stick of Packard, who promptly buried it in the net for a 2-1 Crimson lead with just 28 seconds to play in the first.
The goals serve as testaments to the chemistry on that line, according to Packard.
“I’ve been playing with Brett for awhile, and now I’m starting to play with a lot more confidence,” he said. “Things have really been clicking.”
Harvard Coach Mark Mazzoleni, who only recently put the Packard-Nowak-Flynn line combination together, was very pleased with its performance.
“They play at the same speed,” Mazzoleni said of the trio. “They’re all very smart players who have good hands. They feed off each other very well.”
Packard, in particular, caught his coach’s eye.
“[Packard] played the way he needs to play, like a big guy,” Mazzoleni said. “He has had a very nice 11 games for us.”
Now, Packard has a solid number in the scoring column to show for those strong performances.
“I’ve been getting a lot of chances, so it’s good to put a few home,” he said.