JONNIE ON THE SPOT: Road Wins Are Always Hard

A PERFECT SAINT
Timothy M. Mcdonald

Junior forward Brendan Bernakevitch and St. Lawrence forward Rich Peverly battle for a puck during a faceoff Saturday night.

CANTON, N.Y.—Look up “road game” in your desktop hockey dictionary, and you’ll find two distinct definitions.

The first is pretty basic: “A contest played in the home venue of the opposing team.”

Meanwhile, the second entry in your copy of the Unabridged Puck Scrolls is slightly more nuanced. Harvard junior Noah Welch described it almost poetically after last Wednesday’s practice: “Doesn’t have to be pretty. Just get in, get it done, and get the hell out.”

Moving, isn’t it? We’ll pause a minute as you wipe away that tear.

In all seriousness, though, any hockey fan knows precisely what Welch means. To win on the road, you often have to control puck possession, play responsible defense, win the special teams battle, and get solid goaltending.

Judging by those criteria, the Crimson’s 2-1 victory at Clarkson on Friday night was a hockey purist’s dream. Harvard outshot (40-27) and outchanced the Golden Knights, had a 38-36 edge in faceoffs, won key draws down the stretch, blocked 11 shots, scored a power-play goal and held Clarkson to 0-for-6 on its power play.

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FACE OFF

FACE OFF

“We did a very, very good job of playing a road game,” said goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris, who pulled his weight with a virtually mistake-free, 26-save performance.

The Crimson wasn’t quite as effective the next night. It was outshot (40-38) and outchanced by St. Lawrence, but demonstrated requisite intestinal fortitude by blocking 16 shots. Harvard had costly defensive lapses and took a couple foolish penalties, but a fourth-liner just back from a season-long injury (Kenny Turano) had two points, and Tyler Kolarik (two goals) was a difference-maker.

Both goaltenders allowed an iffy transition goal from high in the right circle. Both teams had a power-play goal.

If this sounds like an even game, that’s because it was. The teams tied, 3-3.

Was it another perfect road game? No. But on a North Country weekend in which travel partner Brown was swept—knocking it from first place in the league—three points were acceptable, even though a tighter game on Saturday would’ve given the Crimson four.

“This isn’t a moral victory,” admitted Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni, “but I’m very proud of the way our guys played this weekend.”

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

It is a matter of objective fact that the best teams in Hockey East have had better non-conference records and greater NCAA tournament success in recent years than their counterparts in the ECAC.

But there is also little doubt that the travel schedule that ECAC teams endure, weekend to weekend, far surpasses the rigors found in Hockey East, where the close proximity of schools and mid-week games make for fewer missed classes and overnight stays.

Never does this contrast become clearer for the Crimson than during its annual trip to the North Country, a seven-hour sojourn that takes the team’s 22-member travel squad from the heart of Greater Boston to within a stone’s throw of the St. Lawrence River.

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