The Harvard men’s hockey team’s power play woes continued Friday night as the University of Massachusetts Lowell (5-7-1, 3-6-1 Hockey East) overpowered the No. 18 Crimson (4-4-1, 3-3-0, ECAC), 5-0, at Bright Hockey Center.
Just four seconds into the River Hawks’ first power play of the game, UML defenseman Chad Ruhwedel beamed a slapshot past the glove of goaltender Raphael Gerard for the River Hawks’ second goal.
The strike seemed to mock Harvard’s own power play efforts as the Crimson finished the night 0-for-5 with the man advantage. Heading into the winter break, Harvard now sits 2-for-32 on the power play this year, a far cry from last season’s NCAA-leading 27.3 percent success rate.
“Our power play was pretty much indicative of our overall offensive game tonight,” Crimson head coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “We got bumped off too many pucks [and] lost too many puck battles.”
The River Hawks controlled the game from start to finish as three different UML defenders scored the game’s first three goals. Heading into the game, the River Hawks’ six defenders had combined for only one goal on the season.
“We really challenged our defensemen these last few weeks to contribute,” UML coach Norm Bazin said. “This week they kind of broke out.”
Freshman defender Dmitry Sinitsyn opened up the scoring just over six minutes into the game with a long wrist shot that found its way through a screen and into the back of the net. The scoring continued to come from unexpected sources for UML as Ruhwedel converted quickly on the power play nine minutes later for his first goal of the season.
The River Hawks outshot Harvard, 15-9, in the first period and continued to limit the Crimson’s chances in the second.
“After it was 2-0, I thought we had plenty of chances…but when it was all said and done, they won a lot more battles than we did, everything from face-offs to blocking shots,” Donato said.
Following a scoreless second period, Harvard’s offense began to find some opportunities in front of goal, but River Hawks defenseman Jake Suter slapped another puck into the net from the point with less than six minutes left in regulation.
Girard protested the goal, claiming goaltender interference, but the mark stood. With UML three goals up on the home team, the game seemed out of reach, even for a resurgent Crimson offense that was getting pucks to the net with more consistency in the third period.
Desperate for a spark, Harvard pulled Girard for an extra attacker with over three minutes left, but the hard-pressing Crimson offense collapsed defensively as Girard rushed back onto the ice in a failed bid to defend against a 3-on-0 rush from the River Hawks. UML forward Scott Wilson deked around Girard for an easy fourth goal.
Tensions began to flare as junior Crimson defenseman John Caldwell sent Suter barreling into the UML net with an after-whistle hit. A tussle ensued behind the net as Caldwell, Suter, Harvard’s Conor Morrison and UML’s Derek Arnold were issued game misconducts.
The Crimson’s frustration continued to boil over as senior defenseman Brendan Rempel was sent to the box for slashing to give the River Hawks a two-man advantage with just over a minute left. UML converted easily as forward Joseph Pendenza chipped in the fifth goal of the night.
UML freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who has recorded back-to-back shutouts, made 32 saves. Girard finished with 27.