If you're a coach, you want your exhibition game to be chock full of new and different scenarios. Saturday night, in front of a hearty Bright Hockey Center crowd, Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni saw everything he could have dreamed of...and more.
Facing off in its first and only warmup before regular season play, the Harvard men's hockey team soundly defeated McGill, 5-2, in a game replete with over 72 minutes of penalties.
"We certainly had an opportunity to see a lot of different situations. It was kind of bizarre in that way," Tomassoni said. "I was talking to a referee a week or so back about the possibility of seeing a three-on-three or a four-on-three and he said, No, you won't see that'. I think we saw at least one three-on-three and at least three four-on-threes [last night]."
Indeed the special teams did see some action--repeatedly. The Crimson power-play unit was graced with eight extraman advantages while the Redmen had 11 of their own.
Hence it was appropriate that Harvard struck first with the five-on-four edge.
Midway through the first period, junior defenseman Ben Storey blasted home the Crimson's first tally of the year on a slapshot from the left point.
The celebration and the lead were short-lived, however, as McGill's Luc Fournier quickly penetrated the Harvard zone and evened things up 18 seconds later on a wrister from inside the right face-off circle.
"[McGill] worked hard till the end and it turned into a little bit of a chippy game which makes it fun," said captain Jeremiah McCarthy. "They're an excellent team and it was a really good game for us to start off with."
But by the second period, the Crimson exposed the bitter truth that Canadian collegiate hockey still cannot compete with its American equivalent. Behind a balanced attack, Harvard knocked home three goals and proverbially closed the book on McGill.
"Obviously winning is very important to us and to get five goals is nice," McCarthy said. "It's pretty good offensive production although it was interesting with all the penalties. We didn't play much even strength."
The scoring spurt came from unlikely sources in sophomore Jamin Kerner, freshman Graham Morrell and senior Geordie Hyland, who in total have amassed only two career goals. But after averaging only 2.6 goals a game and posting a dismal 10-percent power-play success rate last season, Harvard was happy just to see the lamp light up.
Hyland and Kerner put the Crimson firmly in the lead with two quick goals and it wasn't until McGill found daylight with its second power-play tally that Morrell struck gold with 5:37 remaining in the period.
The speedy freshman broke down the right wing and without breaking stride, collected a lead pass from Hyland. McGill goaltender Jarrod Daniel made an initial move out of the crease, but before he could cut down the angle Morrell found an opening through Daniel's pads to give Harvard a solid 4-2 lead.
"Graham is actually a defenseman, but because we've had a few injuries I had to put him up front," Tomassoni said. "It was nice to see him and I thought he played very well."
As the youngest team in Division I hockey last year, the Crimson could once again suffer growing pains this season--seven freshmen saw significant playing time on Saturday.
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