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Smith Sparks Crimson to Comeback Victory

By Timothy M. Mcdonald, Crimson Staff Writer

The biggest win of the Harvard men’s hockey team’s season came Friday night at the Ingalls Rink (commonly known as the Yale Whale) when the team rallied from a 5-2 deficit, scoring six unanswered goals to capture a come-from-behind 7-5 win over its Ivy league rival.

And in that, the biggest game of the year, the most important score came not off the stick of Tim Pettit (game-tying fifth goal) or Noah Welch (game-winning sixth goal), but rather surprisingly off the blade of Crimson captain Kenny Smith.

Smith scored the first Crimson goal at the most opportune time; it was an ice-breaker when the team was trailing 4-0 near the midpoint mark in the second period, a goal that helped change the momentum of the game and revive Harvard’s flagging confidence.

“It’s helpful to get on the board, obviously,” Smith said. “We needed that for our confidence as well.”

And the Crimson’s confidence did slowly build up over the course of the game; Smith’s goal started Harvard on its way to a 2-1 second period where the six “Men of Harvard” outplayed their New Haven counterparts. And that set the tone for the third period, when Harvard mounted its furious comeback.

Timing and emotion aside, the play itself was noteworthy.

Smith managed to split two Yale defenders—Matt Cohen and Matt Craig—just inside the blue line, and skated swiftly into the slot on a one-on-two break.

He quickly wristed a hard shot towards Eli netminder Josh Gartner’s glove-side; Gartner couldn’t catch up with the hard shot, and Harvard was finally on the board at 7:48 of the second.

It was a nifty play, a spectacular unassisted goal that had his teammates still impressed after the conclusion to the most exciting game of the year.

“Smitty had the play of the game, as far as I’m concerned,” junior blueliner Noah Welch said.

“It was a great individual effort,” Welch added. “That’s why he’s our captain.”

“He inspired our team and really took charge out there,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said about his captain’s effort.

“He made a great shot. Kenny can really snap the puck. He has as hard a shot on the snap shot as anyone on the team.”

Smith’s goal came, as did many of the Crimson’s scores on Friday night, as a result of a renewed emphasis on involving the defensemen in the team’s offense.

The increased role for the defensemen in the offense was the subject of locker room discussions between periods, according to Smith.

“Every intermission we talked about: ‘D get up the ice. D get up the ice,” he said.

And Smith took his own advice, taking a gamble that served as the catalyst to Harvard’s dramatic third-period comeback.

“It feels great to make some big plays,” he said. “But a lot of guys played great tonight.”

None of them, however, played as well as Smith, and all followed his example on Friday night. For that, Kenny Smith is our athlete of the week.

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Men's Ice Hockey