With the departure of prolific scorer Alex Killorn ’12 from the Harvard men’s hockey team, it would seem as if the Crimson would have a major hole to fill in its offense.
But in the opening game of the 113th season of the program, the Crimson (1-0-0) came out firing, answering to any of these concerns en route to a 5-0 shutout over first-time opponent Bentley (2-2-0, 1-0-0 Atlantic).
“It was a great start for us,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “There was a lot of energy, and I was really proud of the way our older guys led our overall spirit. Those guys really led our group very well today.”
Utilizing a balance of veterans and newcomers, the Crimson was able to blank the Falcons in the first ever matchup between the two squads Saturday night at Bright Hockey Center, with junior Raphael Girard recording his first career shutout.
Harvard benefitted from a strong night from freshman forward Jimmy Vesey, who netted the first two goals of his collegiate career as well as his first assist.
The rookie scored his first on the power play, where Harvard converted one of two chances, picking up where it left off last season on the man-advantage.
Girard stopped all 31 shots on goal, including several of Bentley’s wide-open scoring chances to halt any momentum the Falcons were trying to build.
“[Girard] was excellent—they had some very dangerous chances,” Donato said. “They were in alone [in front of goal] a few times; they were flying guys behind us a little bit. They got some guys that are pretty good at it.”
The Crimson started the scoring early, as senior Luke Greiner received a pass from Vesey and fired a shot across Bentley goalie Branden Komm from the left circle at 4:09 in the first.
Senior Alex Fallstrom added another for Harvard 16:22 into the period as he fired a shot from the left circle as well. Streaking down the ice after a couple of passes from Max and Marshall Everson—the second assist the brothers have recorded on the same goal in their collegiate careers—Fallstrom beat Komm with a shot into the upper left-corner.
The second period provided an opportunity for the Falcons to regain some momentum as they tried to sneak one past Girard—including an attempt that was reviewed but ultimately ruled that the puck did not cross the goal line.
“They are a good veteran team,” Donato said. “There [are] going to be times in the game where they take momentum and I think they did that in the second. We lost a lot of puck battles.”
Girard made 14 of his 31 saves in the second, stoning last year’s Walter Brown award winner, junior Brett Gensler, a few times before Vesey’s goal in the final minutes of the second frame.
After corralling a pass from sophomore Patrick McNally, captain Danny Biega found Vesey near the opposing net. The freshman then poked the puck past a Bentley defender, toe-dragged across another, and put it past the goalie on the right.
“It was a little bit of a backbreaker because they were getting some chances,” Donato said. “Even though we had 20 shots in the second period, the chances we gave up were too dangerous for us to be comfortable.”