Without missing a beat Saturday night, junior forward Alex Meintel explained that the pucks were “just kind of finding the net.” He credited his teammates’ passes, then praised the bounces his stick produced.
Such modesty can explain away one goal, or perhaps a lucky two. But Meintel knocked home four pucks—including a hat trick Friday night—as the Harvard men’s hockey team beat Union and Rensselaer at the Bright Hockey Center this weekend. Meintel’s outburst lifted him to second on the team’s scoring list with nine goals.
Meanwhile, Harvard (9-12-1, 7-9-1 ECAC) was 6-for-12 on the power play after converting only two of 21 attempts in the previous four games.
The weekend wins moved the Crimson into a tie for sixth in the league standings with five ECAC contests left to play.
HARVARD 3, RPI 1
The Crimson took only five man-advantage shots Saturday night, but three of them beat Engineers netminder Mathias Lange.
Meintel started the scoring with the redirection of a Dylan Reese slapshot 98 seconds into the second period, putting Harvard up 1-0, and rookie Chad Morin doubled the Crimson’s lead at 1:14 into the third with a screamer from the blue line that Lange never saw.
It was Morin’s first collegiate goal, though it almost never happened. Morin was a last-minute substitute for injured defenseman Brian McCafferty, whose name had already been printed on the line sheets.
But Morin, who hadn’t played in Harvard’s last three games, converted his only shot of the night.
“Wait long enough and be patient,” he said with a grin later that night, admitting he was keeping the puck a souvenir, “and things like that happen.”
The Engineers managed a power-play score with less than four minutes remaining, but a boarding penalty quashed any late Rensselaer momentum, and Crimson senior Steve Mandes potted an empty-netter to seal the victory.
HARVARD 5, UNION 2
The Crimson took a 1-0 lead less than halfway through the first period, when a broken Union stick turned Harvard’s power play into a veritable 5-on-3. Junior Jon Pelle beat goaltender Justin Mrazek by the left post for the first of the Crimson’s three man-advantage tallies on the night.
If Harvard can convert on its power-play chances, explained coach Ted Donato ’91, “it doesn’t allow [the opposing team] to play with the same aggression when they know it’s going to hurt them to take penalties.”
The Crimson built a 3-0 lead early in the second period with two more man-advantage tip-ins by Meintel and senior Ryan Maki, just 85 seconds apart. Ten minutes later, at 15:51, Meintel managed an even-strength deflection of Jimmy Fraser’s shot to put Harvard up 4-0.
But though the Crimson had outshot the Dutchmen 13-3 in the middle frame, Union roared back in the third, scoring twice to pull to 4-2.
“We took some penalties there, and they were able to make some plays and take some momentum,” Donato said.
But with just over two minutes remaining, Meintel took the puck on the right side, skated in, and flipped it high across Mrazek and into the top left corner of the net. The goal capped Meintel’s hat trick and lifted the Crimson to a more comfortable 5-2 lead, which remained up on the scoreboard until the buzzer sounded.
With Friday’s win over Union, Harvard snapped a three-game winless streak, the Crimson’s third of the season…Meintel’s hat trick was Harvard’s first of the year. The Crimson’s last three-goal output came off the stick of Dan Murphy ’06, who managed the feat in an 8-4 postseason win over St. Lawrence on March 12…Freshman goalie Kyle Richter evened his record to 6-6-1 with the weekend wins, turning away 50 of 53 shots faced. After beginning the season in a rotation with senior Justin Tobe, Richter has started eight straight games between the pipes and gone 5-2-1 during that stretch…Harvard faces Boston College at 8 p.m. Monday in the opening round of the Beanpot.
—Staff writer Rebecca A. Seesel can be reached at email@example.com.