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BOSTON-—In its otherwise uninspiring 3-1 loss to Northeastern last night, the Harvard men’s hockey team could take solace in strong performances from two first-year players, center Kevin Du and defenseman Dylan Reese.
Were it not for exemplary goaltending from Keni Gibson, Du would’ve scored the game-tying goal on a 3-on-2 with six minutes left, or on an uncontested breakaway with 3:15 left, or on a 2-on-1 shortly thereafter. Du finished with four shots on goal and continued to display his playmaking skills on the team’s third line, between sophomore Dan Murphy and fellow freshman Ryan Maki.
“I thought he was outstanding,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said.
Du’s near-misses left him as disappointed after the game as his Harvard teammates, all of whom are searching for answers in a season that began with so much promise but that has spiraled downward so deliberately.
“All year, it’s been a struggle,” said Du, who has three goals and three assists this season. “I don’t know what happened today … We’re getting chances, so that’s a good sign. A lucky bounce here and there, and we would’ve had it.”
Even though Du wasn’t on the team two seasons ago, when the Crimson overcame a 2-8-1 record in its final 11 regular-season games to win the ECAC tournament, he’s heard a lot about it in the locker room lately.
“We still have the same guys on the team, basically, from two years ago,” Du said. “We know we’re a good team. We can make that run again.”
If Harvard does make a run, it’s likely that Du’s classmate, Reese, will be a focal point. Reese missed 15 games with a pinched nerve, returned Friday at Yale, and demonstrated the offensive upside his team needs on Monday night.
Reese led the team with six shots on goal and had the best scoring chance of the first period, a bid at the left post that Gibson kicked away in the final minute. He nearly rebounded one of Du’s chances for a goal with three minutes left in the third.
“That rebound jumped right out at me,” Reese said, “but I shot it too low and he made a great save … I had a lot of chances today, and I jumped up a lot in the offense, but I couldn’t capitalize.”
Last night marked senior forward Kenny Turano’s third game of the season—his first since undergoing ankle surgery in early November. He skated on the fourth line with fellow senior Blair Barlow and junior Andrew Lederman, who was also making a return from injury (shoulder).
With their respective returns, Turano and Lederman have joined Reese and senior defenseman David McCulloch as Crimson players who have missed more than a month of the season but are now healthy.
“We’re getting people back,” Mazzoleni said. “We’re hoping to get them back in the last six games of the regular season and get some rhythm going, not only in practice but in some game situations.”
Forwards Steve Mandes and Rob Flynn and defenseman Peter Hafner—all of whom played Friday at Yale—were healthy scratches Monday.
Sophomore forward Charlie Johnson missed the game after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Bulldogs. A timetable for his return has not been set.
Yesterday morning, junior Tom Cavanagh was announced as one of 14 semifinalists for the 52nd annual Walter Brown Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England. Cavanagh’s father, Joe Cavanagh ’71, is one of nine Harvard recipients, the last of which was Lane MacDonald ’89.
Boston College leads this year’s list with three semifinalists, including three-time nominee Ben Eaves. Last year’s winner, New Hampshire goaltender Mike Ayers, is also among the semifinalists.
Emily Smith ’04, a member of the Harvard women’s hockey team for three seasons, sang the national anthem before the Crimson’s game.
Staff writer Jon Paul Morosi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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