POTSDAM, N.Y.—In an interview days before the Harvard men’s ice hockey team’s season began, forward Jimmy Vesey talked about his individual objectives for his junior season. One in particular stood out: to become the first Crimson player since Alex Killorn ’12 to score 20 goals in a season.
On Saturday, Vesey’s 20th was a special one—an impressive unassisted breakaway that put Harvard up two goals at 4:41 in the second period. After 60 minutes, the strike proved to be the game-winner as No. 14/13 Harvard (14-9-3, 10-7-3 ECAC) beat Clarkson (11-17-4, 8-10-2), 3-2, in a chippy effort at Cheel Arena.
“I thought we played well for long stretches of the game,” Vesey said. “[It was] kind of ugly in the third period, but it’s a sign of good things to come and a sign of a good team when you can weather the storm like that and get the two points, especially on the road.”
After a 5-1 loss to No. 20/- St. Lawrence Friday night, Harvard coach Ted Donato’91 entered Saturday wanting to shake things up. He moved junior Brian Hart and sophomore Tyler Moy back to the lines and positions at which the forwards had started the year and, for the first time this season, tabbed the second line to take the opening faceoff.
“We just mixed things up a little bit,” Donato said. "We went kind of back in time with some of our combinations."
Donato’s changes responded early, with Lloyd jamming the game’s first goal past the pad of Clarkson sophomore goaltender Steve Perry (18 saves) off a behind-the-net feed from Moy at 2:55 in the period. Co-captain Max Everson followed Lloyd moments later at 6:13 on the power play with a top-shelf strike from above the left faceoff circle.
The Crimson’s third goal came from Vesey, who picked off a Clarkson pass in the neutral zone and split defensemen Kevin Tansey and James de Haas at the blue line to create a breakaway up the slot and beat Perry at the crease.
“I didn’t know if I could split them,” Vesey said. “I knew one of them was kind of near Clarkson’s bench. I thought that Tansey might have had a break on me…[but] I was able to keep it out of his reach.”
The early goals were enough to cancel out first and third period markers from Clarkson’s A.J. Fossen in a game in which between-whistle play and officiating often took center stage.
With 1:23 left in the second period and Harvard up, 3-1, sophomore forward Sean Malone barreled into the Clarkson net, prompting a full-line scuffle. Harvard emerged shorthanded and down a defender, with sophomore forward Luke Esposito receiving a cross checking minor and Crimson defenseman Clay Anderson and Golden Knight forward Nic Pierog receiving matching 10-minute misconducts and roughing minors.
Later, with 1:58 left in regulation, Malone had appeared to beat Clarkson forward Jeff DiNallo in a footrace for a cleared puck. Instead, the play was whistled dead for a Harvard icing, allowing the Golden Knights to send in an extra attacker and sending the Harvard bench into a fury. Moments later, Clarkson received another offensive zone faceoff after another questionable icing call.
Donato gesticulated wildly at the officials before climbing onto the boards in protest after the call on Malone’s play. Yet through the final minutes, Harvard’s defense responded to the extra challenges.
“I thought our players battled there, and we kind of simplified things,” said a more composed Donato after the game. “Last night we weren’t very good, so it was nice to bounce back here tonight.”
For Clarkson, the star of the night was Fossen, who doubled his season goal total with a pair. His first came off a feed from linemate Troy Josephs into the slot after Sam Vigneault knocked the puck loose along the Harvard boards. Fossen added another at 11:34 in the third period, finishing backdoor off a cross-ice feed from Terrance Amorosa to draw the game to 3-2.
From there, junior goaltender Steve Michalek (33 saves) and his supporting cast weathered a series of Clarkson surges, including a persistent final effort with an extra attacker for the game’s final two minutes. Michalek bailed out his team on several occasions throughout the night, and sophomore defenseman Victor Newell and Moy produced key shot blocks.
The win did not come without a cost for Harvard. Third-line freshman forward Jake Horton left the game in the first period and did not return.
By the final horn, however, the visitors had regained control of their postseason destiny. With two conference regular season games remaining and a 6-3 Dartmouth loss at St. Lawrence on Saturday, Harvard controls fourth place in the ECAC standings and the first-round bye in the conference tournament that would come with it.
“All in all, it was just a very good two points for us,” Donato said.
—Crimson staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mdledecky.
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