Long streaks die hard. On Tuesday night, the Harvard men’s ice hockey team shrugged off one of its most irksome ones.
Sophomore forward Alex Kerfoot scored three goals as the Crimson (2-0-2, 1-0-2 ECAC) defeated No. 8 Boston College, 6-3, at Conte Forum. The play of a powerful top line propelled Harvard to its first win over the Eagles (4-5-0, 1-4-0 HE) in 10 games, a wait lasting eight years.
Harvard’s first liners—Kerfoot, junior Jimmy Vesey, and junior co-captain Kyle Criscuolo—contributed on all six of the Crimson’s goals as Kerfoot earned his first career hat trick.
“Our best players were our best players,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “Kerfoot was flying all night. He was really using his speed and his skill and creating plays.”
The visitors raced out to a 5-1 lead in the third period before the Eagles drew within two goals with just over six minutes remaining. Kerfoot tapped in an empty net goal off a feed from Vesey with 28 seconds left to give Harvard a final insurance marker.
Kerfoot opened the scoring on the power play with under five minutes left in the first period. Criscuolo put the Crimson up two in the final minute of the frame, forcing a turnover by BC junior captain defenseman Michael Matheson in the Eagles’ zone before beating senior goaltender Brad Barone glove-side.
Like in Saturday’s tie against Union, the Crimson carried a two-goal lead into the first intermission after a dominant opening frame. This time, however, the team was able to close things out.
“We maybe made it a little more difficult on ourselves in the third period than we had to, but we battled through it,” Donato said. “I thought it was a real solid team effort all the way around.”
Sophomore forward Matthew Gaudreau halved Harvard’s lead less than two minutes into the second frame, but goals from Vesey and sophomore forward Phil Zielonka would extend the Crimson’s advantage by the period’s end.
Vesey redirected a shot from captain Max Everson at 14:08 in the period. Four minutes later, Zielonka pounced on a deflected shot from Criscuolo for a three-goal lead.
In the third, Kerfoot redirected a shot from freshman Joseph Caffrey to give the Crimson its biggest lead of the night, but BC responded with two quick strikes less than two minutes apart at 12:03 and 13:46 from senior forward Destry Straight and freshman forward Alex Tuch.
With the win, Harvard remains one of only three undefeated teams in Division I hockey. The Crimson also remains perfect on the penalty kill. The team’s unit stifled all seven of BC’s opportunities and is now 15-for-15 on the season.
“I thought we did a really good job clogging up the middle of the ice at times,” Donato said. “And when we needed the big save, we got it.”
BC entered the night looking to reverse a streak of their own. The Eagles started the week as the nation’s No. 3 team but dropped its third straight game on Friday. Until Tuesday, BC had not dropped four straight in 10 years.
The Eagles’ task was not made easier with the scratch of starting sophomore goaltender Thatcher Demko, who was out with a fever. In his place, Barone made his fifth collegiate appearance and first start. Eagles coach Jerry York praised Barone for a strong debut and credited Harvard for the upset.
“They’re not an easy out for anybody,” York said. “They’re going to have a good club. I don’t care where they were picked in the ECAC [preseason polls].”
York saw improvements in Harvard’s speed and skill. For Donato, the win is a sign of more improvement to come.
“This year, the guys really committed to getting stronger,” Donato said. “I really like the attitude of the team. We have a long way to go, but the attitude is something that will allow the team to improve.”
— Crimson staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mdledecky.
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