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Outplayed in the second period for a second straight game at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center on Friday, the Harvard men’s hockey team fell to St. Lawrence, 3-1. But the Crimson’s biggest loss of the night came in the first few minutes when freshman forward Alexander Kerfoot went down with a shoulder injury.
“[Kerfoot] is an important player to us,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91. “We use him in pretty much all situations…. Without him, it shortened our bench and made things more difficult.”
With Kerfoot out, the shorthanded offense struggled to get into a rhythm throughout the evening. Donato shuffled the lineup a bit, shifting sophomore right wing Kyle Criscuolo to center and sophomore Brian Hart to the first line.
“When the lines get switched up, sometimes it’s tough to generate chemistry with guys you haven’t played with,” Vesey said. “[Kerfoot’s] on our power play, so when he goes down, things are a little bit shaken up out there so it’s tough. But I thought we did a good job working through it.”
Just over a minute after the opening whistle, the Saints (5-2-2, 1-0-2 ECAC) got on the board after some crisp passing near the blue line. In his first goal of the season, forward Chris Martin ended Raphael Girard’s two-game shutout streak with a low shot past the left leg of the Harvard senior goaltender to put the Saints up 1-0.
For the rest of the night, the Crimson (2-2-1, 1-2-1) would be playing catch-up. Down 2-0 after the opening period, Harvard pulled within one off its first power play goal of the season coming off the stick of sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey.
“I thought we competed hard,” Vesey said. “But [St. Lawrence] is a good team, and we made a few mistakes and things didn’t work out for us tonight.”
The Crimson came within 49 seconds of skating into the second intermission only being down by one. But forward Alex Hagen took advantage of a rebound off Girard’s left shoulder pad to put the Saints up, 3-1.
“The third goal was a killer,” Donato said. “For them to score with 49 seconds left [in the second period]…that hurt.”
The deficit ultimately proved too much for Harvard to make up in the final frame.
Criscuolo almost pulled the Crimson even midway through the opening period. Threading through the St. Lawrence defense, he maneuvered the puck to right in front of the Saints’ goal.
But like every other shot by Harvard in the first period, it was turned away by Saints senior goaltender Matt Weninger, who had nine saves in the opening frame.
“In the first, I thought we had some chances,” Donato said. “But we weren’t able to establish enough offensive zone time.”
The Saints continued to dictate the pace of the game. With 6:35 remaining in the period, St. Lawrence got a 3-on-2 opportunity off a line change.
Taking a pass from Martin, freshman forward Carey swung a shot from Harvard’s right faceoff circle past Girard’s right shoulder to the corner of the net to put the Saints up, 2-0.
Not much changed coming out of the locker room in the second period, with St. Lawrence continuing to get quality looks and the Crimson struggling to get a rhythm on the offensive end. The Saints took 15 shots in the period to Harvard’s four, including one that hit the pipes next to Girard’s right shoulder a little over five minutes in.
The Crimson earned a power play opportunity seconds later when St. Lawrence forward Jeremy Wick was called for elbowing. The Harvard offense could only get one shot off and for the 16th straight time came up empty in man-up situations.
But the power play would not be shut out for long.
With a little over six minutes remaining in the period, Wick was whistled again, this time for hooking. On the ensuing man-up, Vesey took a pass from the right side and snuck the puck by Saints goalie Matt Weninger to end the Crimson’s drought on the power play.
St. Lawrence’s Hagen took back the momentum five and a half minutes later with the visitors’ third goal. The Saints kept up the offensive pressure after the second intermission, with two of its six shots clanging off the pipes behind Girard.
Though Harvard also took six shots in the frame, the offense could not get another one by Weninger. By the time the Crimson went with an empty net with a little under two minutes to go, the team’s second straight home loss was a foregone conclusion.
“I think we can compete harder,” Donato said. “Certainly, I think we can execute a lot better.”
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