Jon Pelle may be generously listed at 5’8, but the upstart freshman cast an awfully large shadow across the ice at Bright Hockey Center last night.
Riding the momentum from his three-point breakout weekend, Pelle tallied a pair of goals against No. 1 Boston College (BC) yesterday, propelling Harvard to its third win in as many games.
“I guess I’ve just been getting lucky,” Pelle said. “The puck’s been popping out to me with open nets, and I’ve been fortunate enough to put some of them away.”
Not that the pucks have just been squirting free to Pelle entirely by chance.
Though hesitant to abandon the perimeter in his first three collegiate contests, the West Islip, N.Y., native has thrown himself headlong into the mix ever since. More forcefully asserting himself on the power play—both of his goals against the Eagles and two of his assists so far this year have come with a man advantage—Pelle has consistently positioned himself to reap the benefits of the playmaking abilities of seniors Tom Cavanagh and Brendan Bernakevitch.
“That’s where it all happens—in front of the net,” Pelle said. “And I figure if I can get there as much as I can, the puck’s gonna be there, and I’m going to have opportunities to finish ‘em.”
That logic served Pelle well against BC netminder Matti Kaltiainen, who regularly coughed up rebounds on and around the doorstep.
With the Crimson trailing by one midway through the first period, Eagles captain Ryan Shannon was sent off for slashing, providing the red-hot Harvard power play unit its first chance of the evening.
Senior Andrew Lederman took captain Noah Welch’s feed at the left circle and whipped a shot towards the left post. Kaltiainen sprawled to make the initial stop, but allowed the puck to scoot to his right, where Pelle was waiting.
Seemingly unaware that the goal was unattended, Pelle patiently controlled the puck, skated in, and buried the equalizer while Kaltiainen struggled to regain his footing.
“[Lederman] took the puck up high, got a good shot off,” Pelle said. “The rebound came out to me and I corralled it, and brought it over to the forehand. I looked up and I didn’t see anybody in the net so I just put it in.”
Two periods later, Kaltiainen wasn’t so vulnerable, but his efforts at stopping Pelle would prove just as unsuccessful.
With BC again down a skater, Bernakevitch raced down the right wing with Pelle and Cavanagh trailing. After carrying inside the circle, Bernakevitch wristed the puck high, handcuffing Kaltiainen.
As he dropped to the ice, struggling to smother the puck, Pelle dashed towards the crease, poking the puck into the top corner of the goal to seal the victory.
“He is a playmaker,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “He’s smart. He doesn’t overwhelm people with his size or his speed necessarily, but he seems to be in the right spot at the right time.”
And luckily for the Crimson, he’s made sure the puck has been, too.
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at email@example.com.