At times, the Crimson looked as if it was the stronger team. Harvard prevented Northeastern from getting any shots on goal during the final 10 minutes of the first period and generated several quality scoring chances of its own during that span.
The Crimson was very strong on the puck in the second frame and tied the game at one goal apiece 3:25 into the period on Brendan Bernakevitch’s second goal of the season.
Harvard finished strong, as well, and nearly made a game of it in the final minutes.
But while the Crimson dominated stretches of the contest, it also had lapses.
Ten Northeastern shots preceded that first-period dry spell, including Mike Ryan’s wrister at 9:24 of the frame to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Then, Northeastern was able to build a 3-1 lead in the second period thanks to a flukey goal by sophomore center Ryan Dudgeon and a putback by winger Eric Ortlip. Ryan put up two more in the third to seal Harvard’s fate.
In short, it was Jekyll and Harvard once again.
This is the team that beat No. 10 Cornell earlier in the season and tied No. 12 Michigan on the road. It’s also the same group that lost to Vermont, a team that has won only two other games all season long.
With this Harvard club, you have to shake your head and smile sometimes. You just never know what to expect.
But more often than not at the Fleet Center last night, the Crimson put forth an effort that it—and Coach Mark Mazzoleni—was pleased with.
“I’m proud of the way we played tonight,” Mazzoleni said. “I thought we played extremely hard. I can’t question our kids’ effort.”
Northeastern capitalized on the chances that Harvard gave it. The Crimson couldn’t do the same. That’s the story of the game in two sentences.
“They capitalized on their chances and we didn’t,” Mazzoleni said.
And it’s unfortunate for Harvard that it couldn’t catch some breaks and beat Northeastern, because the Beanpot is a great opportunity for the Crimson to demonstrate the progress of Mazzoleni’s tenure. It’s the sort of thing that Harvard can only do in these situations, playing against some of the best teams in the country.
Certainly, the Harvard hockey program has made great strides under Mazzoleni, now in his third year.