Entering Friday night it looked as if the Harvard men’s hockey team (8-16-3, 5-13-2 ECAC) was going to continue a recent trend of finishing an otherwise disappointing season on a high note. St. Lawrence (16-11-4, 9-6-4) faced a Crimson team on a season-high four-game unbeaten streak.
Freshman forward Jimmy Vesey had put the Crimson up 2-1 early in third period at Appleton Arena, with assists from sophomore Colin Blackwell—his fourth in five games—and assistant captain Alex Fallstrom.
But midway through the final frame, that lead would quickly disappear.
After a tripping penalty by captain Danny Biega at 7:57 in the third, Saints senior defenseman George Hughes netted a power-play goal to tie the score at two, with helpers from captain Kyle Flanagan and junior Justin Baker.
Just 12 seconds later, junior forward Greg Carey claimed the lead for St. Lawrence, scoring what would be the game-winner off assists from junior forward Jeremy Wick and senior defenseman Jordan Dewey.
“Unfortunately the game turned around that quickly,” freshman forward Kyle Criscuolo said. “The two-goal swing kind of changed the momentum on us.”
“We battled hard, it was definitely disappointing,” added freshman goalie Peter Traber, who backed up junior netminder Raphael Girard in the game.
The crowd seemed to play a factor at Appleton Arena, which is located a few miles from the Canadian border in upstate New York.
“That rink is old; there’s not much to do at St. Lawrence,” Criscuolo said. “So they always get a good fanbase, and they got the momentum from us.”
Carey has been on fire this season, averaging a nation-high 1.47 goals per game while tallying 25 goals and 47 points, also best in the country. Complementing his scoring has been Flanagan, with 28 assists and 40 points, good for third-best and fifth-best in the nation, respectively.
With the victory, the Saints increased their winning streak to four, highlighted by an upset one week earlier against No. 1 Quinnipiac, where they handed the top-ranked Bobcats their first loss in 22 games.
Harvard remains in last place in the ECAC with this loss to second-place St. Lawrence. With two games remaining in the regular season and the Crimson three points behind Colgate, Harvard will need some help to move up and avoid its first last place finish in at least 50 years.
In the first period, the Crimson took the first lead of the game with a power-play goal from senior Marshall Everson. It marked his fifth straight game with a goal, a career-high goal streak. Biega and senior Luke Greiner were attributed with assists.
Everson, last week’s ECAC player of the week—the first such honor this season for Harvard—claimed the lead in goals for the Crimson before Vesey propelled himself back into a tie for the lead with his third-period goal. Each has 11 goals on the season, though the freshman leads the team in points with 17, along with Fallstrom and fellow freshman Brian Hart.
Biega’s assist brought his season total to seven on the season, to go with two goals. Though he has had a significant drop-off from last season’s production, in which he tallied 10 goals, 25 assists, and 35 points—including a league-high 14 on the power play—the captain was recently nominated for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award.
He is the only nominee from the ECAC and just the second from Harvard, the first since 2009, when Brian McCafferty ’09 was up for the award that is presented to NCAA Division I athletes who excel in the four areas of community, classroom, character, and competition.
11:20 into the first period, Flanagan knotted the score at one with help from junior defenseman Pat Raley and sophomore forward Justin Bruckel.
After St. Lawrence stormed back to take the lead in the third, sophomore forward Patrick Doherty added some insurance late in the game with a goal at 14:55 for the Saints, assisted by sophomore forwards Gunnar Hughes and Tommy Thompson.
Despite the loss, the Crimson outshot St. Lawrence, 26-25, and 14-7 in the third period alone. Girard had 21 saves on the night for Harvard, while Matt Weninger had 24 saves for the Saints.
—Staff writer David A. Mazza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.