Hockey Surges Past No. 12 BU 5-2

At a university known for its history and tradition, Harvard’s icemen had a few skeletons in their closet going into last night’s traditional Turkey Week showdown with rival Boston University.

The Crimson was 1-14-1 in its last 16 games against Hockey East teams, winless in its last four against BU and hadn’t beaten a ranked Hockey East opponent during Mark Mazzoleni’s five years here.

No more. Something clicked last night against the 12th-ranked Terriers (3-4-3).

Rather than find a new way to lose, Harvard hit its stride after a 10-day layoff, shook off its recent big-game blunders and came through with a cathartic 5-2 win before a sellout of 2,776 at Bright Hockey Center.

“Pretty sweet,” said senior assistant captain Tyler Kolarik, who had a goal and an assist in his 100th collegiate game. “Better than a regular win, I guess, but it’s like Coach Mazzoleni said: It’s just another win…. You can savor it for a little bit, but then you have to let it go.”

As early-season wins go, though, this was worth remembering. Going in, Harvard was a ho-hum 2-2-1, down to No. 14 in the national polls and wallowing in the vast middleground of the ECAC standings.

“It’s a good starting point for us, a good measuring point,” Kolarik said. “We had a tough start, and BU was going to be a tough opponent. We knew it.

“Did we treat it any differently than any other game? No. Do we realize the impact? Yes.”

More than two decades of impact, in fact.

This was Harvard’s first win over BU at Bright since Dec. 1, 1982. Thirteen current Harvard players were not even born then.

“I didn’t know that,” Mazzoleni said with a laugh.

Mazzoleni’s chuckles provided a fitting epilogue for what was a beginning-to-end, feel-good effort by the home side, featuring a rejuvenated power play (2-for-4), strong play between the pipes by junior Dov Grumet-Morris and a punctuation mark goal from in-and-out-of-the-lineup junior Rob Flynn with 2:41 left.

“We expected to win,” said Mazzoleni, now 2-6-0 against the Terriers. “The atmosphere with our team this year is much different than it was in the past.”“We have guys who have gone through a lot with each other the past four years.”

Harvard scored the two deciding goals within a two-minute span midway through the second period to break a 2-2 tie.

The first of the two—the game-winner—came through the work of Harvard’s freshman line of Steve Mandes, Kevin Du and Ryan Maki.

Defenseman Tom Walsh began the scoring sequence along the right boards and sent a quasi-shot, quasi-pass toward the net. It went off Du’s stick, Mandes took a whack and Du stayed on the doorstep long enough to poke it through at 9:47.

The Crimson used its slow-starting power play (2-for-16, 12.5 percent going in) to move ahead 4-2. BU defender Tom Morrow went off for holding at 10:54, and Harvard needed only 23 seconds on the man advantage before Tim Pettit teed up one of his patented rockets from the top of the left circle. BU goalie Sean Fields knocked it down, but Harvard hoss Dennis Packard—a new addition to the power play unit—muscled his way to the rebound and banged it home.

“Better him in front than me,” Kolarik said with a smile.

It was the best of both worlds: The Pettit of old (17 goals last year) and the Packard of new (team-leading four goals this year). And with Grumet-Morris coming up with 34 saves (16 in the third period), the Crimson was well on its way to a winning record (3-2-1) for the first time this year.

“He got better as the game went along,” Mazzoleni said of Grumet-Morris, who outdueled Fields (28 saves) for the first time in their five meetings.

The win was Harvard’s third in the last two seasons when the opponent scores first. BU took a 1-0 lead at 6:57 of the first on the first of Kenny Magowan’s two goals, but the Crimson responded with goals from Tom Cavanagh (10:52) and Kolarik (12:25) and never trailed again.

Harvard went 0-7-1 against NCAA tournament teams last season, but now owns a victory over a team that was responsible for three of those losses.

“We need to do things out-of-conference, let’s face it,” Mazzoleni said. “Of all the teams in our league, we probably play the most competitive non-conference schedule. We don’t run from anyone. We’ve lined it up against people and haven’t gotten it done.

“We have to get it done, and it’s a start tonight. It’s a start.”

And, just as importantly, an end to the ghosts of big-game losses past.

—Staff writer Jon P. Morosi can be reached at