Without its leading freshman scorer for the second straight game, the Harvard men’s hockey team once again turned to its seniors to provide an offensive spark. They did.
Three goals from senior forwards—one from assistant captain Alex Fallstrom and two from Marshall Everson—lifted the Crimson (7-15-2, 4-12-1 ECAC) to a 4-1 win over Colgate (13-12-4, 5-9-3 ECAC) at the Bright Hockey Center on Friday evening. Harvard picked up its first in-conference victory since Nov. 16.
“There’s been a lot of frustration, quite honestly, over the last couple of months, and they could almost taste a victory,” Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “I think there were some real big plays in the game that we lacked earlier in the season.”
Everson posted two markers less than four minutes apart in the back-half of the second period to provide Harvard a two-goal advantage.
More than 11 minutes into the second frame, a rebound from freshman forward Kyle Criscuolo pinballed off the leg of Everson as the senior crashed the crease. The strike put the Crimson up, 2-1.
Moments later, Everson received a Criscuolo feed from the right-wing boards before deking the puck past Colgate freshman goaltender Spencer Finney.
“Criscuolo made an incredible pass to me,” Everson said of his second goal. “I thought [Finney] might be reading a one-timer, so I just wanted to hold it for a second there and try to get him out of position.”
After a scoreless first period in which the Raiders outshot Harvard, 10-5, the Crimson opened the second firing on all cylinders. Fallstrom slid the puck under the pads of a scrambling Finney less than one minute into the frame as Harvard bombarded the net.
“We started slow in the game, so in between periods we had to start to take control,” Everson said. “We had to get back to our game plan of getting the puck in deep and trying to forecheck. I think when we started doing that and simplifying our game, we saw the successes come.”
Colgate took little time to respond to Fallstrom’s goal, immediately peppering junior goaltender Raphael Girard with shots following the score. The Raiders broke through on the man advantage as Billy Rivellini converted on a tick-tack passing play.
But Harvard quickly found itself in the driver’s seat again. Everson’s goals put the contest out of reach as the Colgate attack collapsed down the stretch. Girard finished with a game-high 27 saves.
“We did what we needed to do,” Donato said. “I thought we played pretty intelligently in the third period, outside of the fact that we had some penalty trouble. We didn’t turn the puck over and made good plays to get it out and get it in and allowed [Girard] to see the puck most of the time.”
The Raiders managed only four shots on goal in the final frame despite three power plays. A clear from junior defender Dan Ford skidded into an empty net with less than 30 seconds left in regulation for the Crimson’s fourth goal of the night.
Harvard has played the last two games without sharp-shooting freshman forward Jimmy Vesey, who is out with a lower body injury. Yet in each of those two games, veterans have provided an extra scoring punch.
“Obviously Jimmy’s an important part of our team and one that we hope to have back,” Donato said. “We’ve had some guys step up, and I think we’re getting more guys involved. More guys are hitting their stride a little bit. It’s a good time of the year to do it.”
The first three goals of the night required video review. Officials examined and cleared Everson’s game-winner for any kicking motion that could have propelled the puck into the net.
“I saw [the puck] come off the pad and was hoping that it would hit me somewhere in the body and go in,” Everson said. “I didn’t want to touch it with my hand, didn’t want to kick it in. Just hoped my body’s momentum would carry it in.”
With its 7-4 win over Boston University on Monday, Harvard earned its first pair of back-to-back wins since beating RPI, 4-0, and Cornell, 4-1, on Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, respectively. The Crimson’s last three games comprise its longest unbeaten streak of the season.
“I think our guys certainly played with a greater level of desperation,” Donato said. “That’s something we want to continue to improve upon.”
—Staff Writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mdledecky.