Quinnipiac may have boasted the ECAC’s best record heading into Friday night’s contest at Bright Hockey Center, but only the Harvard men’s hockey team played like a contender.
The last-place Crimson (3-7-0, 2-6-0 ECAC) combined efficient passing, a solid physical game, and some stylish puck-handling to upset the Bobcats (7-4-2, 4-2-1) by a score of 4-2 and earn its second league win of the season.
Harvard dug itself an early hole, allowing Quinnipiac to build a 2-0 lead during the game’s opening 10 minutes. The Bobcats’ Mark Agnew opened the scoring at the 7:44 mark, beating Crimson netminder Justin Tobe to the right side after receiving a cross from teammate Dan LeFort.
Quinnipiac made it a two-goal deficit just three minutes later. After a scramble in front of the Harvard net, the puck kicked out to Matt Sorteberg, who launched a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle to expand the lead to 2-0.
The Crimson, however, was able to recover quickly, tying the score before the frame ended. Junior forward Mike Taylor got Harvard on the board at 14:15, depositing the puck into the left corner of the net from inside the right faceoff circle to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 2-1.
Two Quinnipiac penalties in the period’s 16th minute gave the Crimson 1:40 of 5-on-3 advantage, giving Harvard the opening it needed to tie the score. When freshman Doug Rogers’ shot from the top of the zone was deflected by goalie Bud Fisher, junior Jon Pelle was able to bury the rebound, knotting the score at 2.
After scoring a combined four goals during the opening period, the two teams remained quiet through most of the second frame. With the period winding down, the Crimson finally broke through, scoring what would prove to be the game-winner on an elegantly executed offensive charge.
Taylor took the puck down the right side of the Bobcats’ zone, maneuvering through two defenders to wind up near the right post. Rather than taking a shot, however, he passed the puck back to freshman blueliner Alex Biega, who was waiting in the slot to send it into the left side of the net for a 3-2 lead.
Attempting to protect its slim lead, Harvard played with renewed intensity as the third period opened, keeping the Quinnipiac forwards in check with some heavy hitting on the defensive end.
The Bobcats’ best opportunity to tie the score came in the game’s final minutes, when rookie Crimson defender Jack Christian was whistled for contact to the head with 2:21 remaining. Quinnipiac promptly pulled Fisher, extending its advantage to two extra skaters.
Harvard’s penalty kill, however, rose to the challenge, preventing the Bobcats from mounting any serious threats.
Once the power play ended, the momentum immediately swung back in the Crimson’s direction. Junior Tyler Magura, stepping in for Christian, came streaking off the bench and slammed into a Quinnipiac skater at the blue line, separating him from the puck. Sophomore Jimmy Fraser was able to take it the other way, scoring an easy empty-net insurance goal to put the game out of reach.