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HAMILTON, N.Y.—He cut right, deked left and lifted a shot to the upper right quarter of the goal.
The fans gasped with shock; their mouths fell open.
And with that breakaway move and laser shot, junior center Tom Cavanagh put the Harvard men’s hockey team ahead of Colgate for good Friday night.
Cavanagh’s goal, his second of the night, came 9:19 into the third and put the Crimson up 3-2. Harvard eventually won 4-2 on the strength of Cavanagh’s third goal.
It was his first collegiate hat trick.
“Yeah, [he] was OK,” junior goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris said jokingly. “No, he was fantastic. It’s pretty amazing that, in the third period, his strength and his wind were able to get us the game-winning goal.”
In typical fashion, Cavanagh was modest after the game and complemented senior winger Dennis Packard for feeding him the puck on his second goal.
“It was just one of those nights when I got some bounces,” Cavanagh said. “I just tried to get it to the net, and it worked out pretty well.”
But the fact that fans turned to each other asking who Cavanagh was after his breakaway speaks to the beauty of his goal.
Packard cleared the puck out of the zone and along the boards to Cavanagh. Racing along the right side on a two-on-three, Cavanagh crossed the blue line, then split the two defensemen with a quick move to the left.
Bearing down on Raiders goalie Steve Silverthorn, Cavanagh broke past Eamon Del Giacco and wristed the puck above Silverman’s stick.
“I’ve seen him pull that move a lot, where he fakes outside and comes inside,” Packard said. “It was a great move and a great finish, as well. He put it right on top.
No goalie’s going to save that.”
The goal looked just as pretty from the bench.
“I haven’t seen a goal like that for a long time,” junior center Brendan Bernakevitch said. “That was straight-up—got the [deke] and put it top-shelf. You can’t ask for a prettier goal.”
Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni had nothing but praise for Cavanagh, who also scored his second power-play goal of the season on Friday.
“He plays so hard, but he’s very skilled and he’s got a great release,” Mazzoleni said. “You saw the release on the third goal. That was like [Colorado Avalanche center] Joe Sakic. He shoots that puck so quick.”
Cavanagh’s first goal came 16:02 into the first period with Harvard on the power play. Receiving the puck at the top of the right face-off circle, Cavanagh unleashed a shot. The puck deflected off the skate of Colgate’s Joey Mormina and into the goal.
Junior defensemen Noah Welch and senior forward Tim Pettit earned assists on the play.
Harvard has converted seven-of-41 power play chances this year.
“I was just trying to make a crossing pass and it hit one of their guys and it went in,” Cavanagh said. “That’s one of the things we need to have on the power play more, just getting the puck to the net and getting some deflections.”
Cavanagh scored his third goal on an empty net with just 37 seconds left in the game. It capped his second multi-goal and fourth multi-point game of the season.
Cavanagh totaled two multi-goal and four multi-point games all of last season.
His swell in productivity comes in part from an increase in playing time. Now the Crimson’s top center following the graduation of Dominic Moore ’03 and Brett Nowak ’03, Cavanagh is playing on the first line, first power-play unit, first penalty kill and first four-on-four.
“He patiently kept his mouth shut and waited for his opportunity, and now he’s our No. 1 centerman and he’s producing,” Mazzoleni said. “Is it a shock to me? Not at all.”
Apparently, Cavanagh’s breakaway shocked everyone but his coach.
—Staff writer Brenda E. Lee can be reached at email@example.com.
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