The last time the Harvard men’s hockey team faced off against Brown, the Crimson came away with the NCAA Division I record for ties with 11 overall in the season.
But on Friday night at Bright Hockey Center facing the Bears (1-3, 0-2 ECAC) in the first conference game for Harvard, the No. 13 Crimson (2-1, 1-1) was able to skate to a 3-2 victory, defeating Brown in the 161st installment of the oldest rivalry in college hockey.
The deciding goal of the night was a career first, and not by one of many freshman forwards, but by senior Brendan Rempel.
The defenseman fired a slap shot from the right point through a screen in the second period for Harvard’s third goal of the game. The goal was assisted by sophomore Tommy O’Regan and freshman Brian Hart—recording the first point of his collegiate career.
“I had a lot of time and space,” Rempel said. “The forwards did a really good job off the cycle having one guy in front of the net at all times so when the goalie can’t see it, it makes it a lot easier for the D to get it through.”
The goal capped off a three-goal outburst by the Crimson in the second period, in which all of the goals of the game were scored.
Harvard was then able to withstand the Bears’ comeback bid, holding on to one-goal lead throughout the third period after Brown scored soon after Rempel’s goal.
“We are excited to get the win,” Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “I think it was a frustrating game at times because we were getting some chances but we couldn’t get any separation…They are a tough team to play against, [they] always play us tough, and we are excited to get the win.”
Last year Harvard was known for its nation-leading power play, but recently the Crimson’s penalty kill has been its strong point. Dating back to last year’s ECAC quarterfinals against Yale, Harvard has killed 30 of its last 31 penalties.
“I think it starts with the goaltending; most nights your goaltender needs to be your best penalty killer.” Donato said. “But I think our team speed is such that we can put a lot of pressure on teams, and I think we have a couple pairs of defensemen that really do a good job killing penalties.”
On Friday night, the Crimson’s offensive momentum started on the penalty kill, with sophomore Colin Blackwell scoring an unassisted short-handed goal to knot the score at one at 11:31 in the second. After Brown lost the puck in the offensive zone, Blackwell took the puck up the left side of the ice, cut back towards the center past a Bear defenseman, and fired a wrist shot past junior Brown goalie Marco DiFilippo.
“The Blackwell goal gave us a shot of life,” Donato said. “After that, I thought we really started to play a much better game.”
Soon after the Bears’ power play expired, Harvard took the lead with help from a pair of rookies. Freshman and ECAC Rookie of the Week Jimmy Vesey sent a crisp pass from the right side to classmate Kyle Criscuolo, who promptly completed the play with a low wrist shot past DiFilippo on the right for the first goal of his collegiate career.
Rempel made it 3-1 with his goal, scoring after receiving the puck after a battle along the boards behind the net on the right.
The Bears responded less than two minutes later, with sophomore forward Matt Lorito receiving a pass from sophomore Matt Harlow from the left and firing a shot over the shoulder of Girard.