Finally in Form, Fourth Line Shines For M. Hockey

Sophomore Bernakevitch enjoys return from hip flexor injury, produces with Pettit and Cavanagh

Albany, NY—It’s supposed to be just an energy line—those on it are not even expected to score. Yet, on March 21, Harvard’s fourth line was its most impressive one of the night.

The Crimson trio of senior Aaron Kim, junior Rob Fried and freshman Dan Murphy provided far more than just intense play, setting up Harvard’s first goal and at times dominating in the offensive zone, even against Dartmouth’s top lines.

“Sometimes you wish you could get the rest of the team to play the way your fourth line does,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said. “They don’t get a lot of ice time, but they do every thing to a T that you ask of them, and they have success.”

The emergence of the Crimson fourth line has given Harvard depth it simply didn’t have a year ago.

Last season at playoff time the Crimson’s fourth line didn’t leave the bench—Mazzoleni felt he could only trust his top three lines against high-caliber competition, exposing them to fatigue as game after game went into overtime.

Now, he counts on his energy players to kill off penalties.

Kim, perhaps Harvard’s most bountiful source of intensity, currently joins Fried on one of the Crimson’s penalty-killing units. That means two of the three members of Harvard’s fourth line have been entrusted to tackle the opposition’s top skaters, all while down a man. Kim and Fried have not disappointed—Harvard has not allowed a power-play goal in 13 chances.

“I thought they were outstanding,” Mazzoleni said. “They were physical, they generated offense and they played great team defense.”

(Hopefully) Staying Hip

After missing last weekend’s quarterfinal series against Vermont, sophomore forward Brendan Bernakevitch made an impact in his first game back. Bernakevitch—who in the regular-season finale re-aggravated a hip flexor injury that originally had caused him to miss four games—scored the game-winning goal and played solidly all night.

Bernakevitch’s tally, a power-play goal, came at 7:59 in the second. Bernakevitch skated into the zone at Dartmouth goaltender Nick Boucher’s left side. Drawing coverage, he skated with the puck down toward the low boards and circled back, gaining separation from his Big Green shadow. With some space, Bernakevitch was able to fire a wrister by Boucher to make the score 4-1 and send Boucher to the showers.

Although his goal came on the power play, instead of with standard linemates junior Tim Pettit and sophomore Tom Cavanagh, the impact Bernakevitch made with that duo was evident in his return.

“Having Brendan back really impacted our team. He really completes that line,” Mazzoleni said. “Even now Brendan’s not 100%, but he does a lot of good things out there. Pettit, Cavanagh and Bernakevitch really play off each other very well.”

And for Harvard to continue to play very well in the postseason, it will need the Pettit-Cavanagh-Bernakevitch triumvirate to be in the lineup every game.

Tracking the Top Flight

One of the biggest concerns for the Crimson entering the semifinal was the strong play of Dartmouth’s top line.