This weekend’s split against two of the season’s toughest opponents gave the Harvard men’s hockey team confidence that it can compete with the nation’s best.
Sophomore goalie Kyle Richter anchored a powerful defense against both the No. 16 St. Lawrence Saints (3-5, 0-3 ECAC) and the No. 11 Clarkson Golden Knights (5-2, 2-0). Though the Crimson (1-1, 1-1) suffered a 2-1 loss to Clarkson—the team that ended Harvard’s—playoff drive last season, the squad stayed in the game until the end and managed to explode offensively against the Saints the next night for a 6-1 win.
HARVARD 6, ST. LAWRENCE 1
In Saturday night’s game against St. Lawrence, several Crimson players surpassed personal milestones and showed that Harvard promises to challenge upcoming opponents.
Sophomore goalie Kyle Richter made 42 saves, one more than his previous career best, and junior defenseman Jack Christian and co-captain Dave MacDonald scored goals for the first time in their collegiate careers.
Not even five minutes into the game, the Crimson vaulted onto the scoreboard with Christian’s goal. Senior forward Paul Dufault caught a chip from freshman forward Matt McCollem, who directed it to Christian for a low shot that whipped past SLU goalie Alex Petizian.
“We started the game much better and stayed focused throughout,” senior forward Dave Watters said.
The Saints’ best chance at recovering from the early deficit failed despite a series of power-play opportunities, one at the end of the first and two early on in the second.
But thanks to Richter stopping six shots, the St. Lawrence offense was kept in check.
Co-captain Mike Taylor’s interception of a Saints pass began a string of passes that ended when sophomore forward Doug Rogers scored his first goal of the season on a feed from senior forward Jon Pelle.
The Crimson’s penalty-killing streak ended when a pass by SLU’s Kevin DeVergilio set up Brock McBride to slice a low shot past Richter in the third period to make the score 2-1.
It was the only time the Saints managed to capitalize in seven power-play opportunities.
But St. Lawrence’s attempts to equalize were to no avail as the Harvard offense dominated the final 10 minutes with four more goals.
Goals from Pelle and freshman forward Michael Biega made the score 4-1. Then, Christian scored his second goal on an empty net, and MacDonald finished off the offensive barrage with a low slapper that ripped past Petizian.
Harvard might have been able to make the scoring disparity even larger, as the team outshot the Saints, 43-23.
“We have a lot better offense this year,” senior forward Alex Meintel said. “The game with St. Lawrence is very indicative of just how dangerous our offense can be.”
CLARKSON 2, HARVARD 1
In the Crimson’s season opener against Clarkson on Friday in Potsdam, N.Y., Harvard fell just one goal short of earning payback against the team that bumped the Crimson from the ECAC playoffs last spring.
“You don’t forget a loss like that, and it was definitely on our minds,” MacDonald said. “We saw this as an opportunity for payback.”
But after just one minute, Harvard was already playing from behind. Richter stopped a shot made by Clarkson’s defenseman Grant Clitsome, but a quick reaction by forward Matt Beca on the rebound put the Golden Knights on the scoreboard.
A few minutes later, Clarkson gave back the lead thanks to a penalty.
Skating with the man advantage, Meintel deflected the puck past Clarkson’s goalie David Leggio off of an assist from sophomore Alex Biega to bring the score to 1-1.
The short-lived tie crumbled five minutes later when the Golden Knights’ Tim Marks deflected a shot fired by Steve Zalewski into the net past Richter.
In the second period, Harvard killed three Clarkson power plays, during which time the Golden Knights even enjoyed a 31-second 5-on-3 advantage. As the last line of defense for a short-handed squad, Richter managed six saves, contributing his total of 20 saves for the game.
The Crimson showed an admirable offensive drive, letting loose 10 shots in the second period to the Golden Knights’ nine.
“Clarkson is a tough team—they’re top 15 in the nation, and we just couldn’t find a way to score on their goalie,” MacDonald said.
Clarkson killed a Harvard power play in the final period to secure the victory.
The Crimson has now lost two straight season openers.