Offensive Explosion Leads Crimson Over Western Ontario in Opening-Game Exhibition

The Harvard men’s hockey team finished its 2010-2011 season with a flurry of goals and wins, and its improbable late-season run nearly earned the squad a spot in the third round of the ECAC playoffs.

In tonight’s exhibition match against Western Ontario, the offense picked up just where it had left off.

In an impressive scoring display, the Crimson bested the visiting Mustangs in a 7-4 victory at the Bright Hockey Center.

“There are a lot of good things to look at [in this game], and certainly a lot of things to improve on if we want to have some success,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said.

The Harvard scoring onslaught began just minutes into the contest. After the teams traded shots early on, junior forward Marshall Everson received the puck near the red line with no one in front of him. In a one-on-one against Western Ontario goaltender Alain Valiquette, Everson came out on top, slipping the puck by Valiquette’s right foot to give the home team the early one-goal advantage.

But the first period scoring was far from over for Harvard.

Seven minutes later, junior forward Luke Grenier skillfully deflected a pass from sophomore defenseman Danny Fick past the Mustang netminder to double the Crimson lead.

And like at the end of last season, the Crimson power play was in high gear. With a one-man advantage at the 13:48 mark in the first, senior forward Alex Killorn, last year’s leading goalscorer for the Crimson, made it a 3-0 game.

Just a little more than 10 minutes later, early in the second frame, Harvard took advantage of the power play again, with junior Conor Morrison finishing off a strong Crimson passing display.

After Harvard tacked on another score just 1:24 later—giving the home team the commanding 5-0 lead—the momentum began to shift.

Western Ontario finally got on the board 7:23 into the period, when sophomore goaltender Raphael Girard couldn’t hold on to a Mustang shot, and Western Ontario forward Shaun Furlong pounded the rebound between Girard’s legs.

When Girard was replaced by freshman goaltender Stephen Michalek with 9:05 remaining—as was planned before the contest—the visitors took advantage.

In his first collegiate performance, Michalek struggled early on. In his nine minutes between the pipes in the second frame, the Mustangs found the back of the net three times, narrowing the score to 5-4.

“The second period got away from us a little bit,” Donato said. “We made some poor decisions with the puck, took some penalties, and turned the puck over a bunch.”

Harvard bounched back in the final frame. Michalek settled down, keeping the visitors off the board to assure the victory. And in the end, the Harvard offense—and its strong power play—proved to be too much for Western Ontario.

Twice in the final ten minutes, the Crimson found the back of the net, both times on power plays. With 10:37 left to play, Morrison snuck one past Valiquette. Just four minutes later, Killorn followed suit, finding the back of the net to earn his third point of the game and putting the contest out of reach.

“One of the things that really excited me was in the third period, after having a tough second [period], our power play came out and had a big goal—a timely goal,” Donato said. “We faced some adversity, and it was a nice opportunity to come out and have a good period, and I thought we did.”

-Check thecrimson.com for updates.

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