Harvard’s (1-0-0, 1-0-0 ECAC) bursts of scoring propelled it past the Big Green (0-1-0, 0-1-0) by a score of 7-3. Those seven tallies included three from freshmen in their first collegiate contests and two from sophomore defenseman Jack Rathbone. Sophomore forward Casey Dornbach, last year’s ECAC Rookie of the Year, pocketed three assists on the night, as did junior centerman Jack Badini.
Though the Crimson jumped out to an early lead, doubling it later in the first period, the bulk of the contest’s action — six goals, in fact — came in the middle frame. Dartmouth came in flying after the first intermission, taking only 1:36 to find the back of the net courtesy of senior forward Daniel Warpecha. The visitors repeated the feat again 20 seconds later and a third time less than five minutes after that, as junior forward Quin Foreman slotted a rebound home after a Big Green 2-on-1. Momentum, arguably, had been on Dartmouth’s side anyway; the Big Green put up 18 shots to Harvard’s 12 in the first period. But now the chances were going in.
Whether or not the sequence of events had to do with the Crimson’s inexperience or size — Dartmouth iced one freshman as opposed to the hosts’ four — the test of resilience had arrived early. Now down 3-2, could Harvard withstand a bigger opponent long enough to counter?
“It looked like it was a good night to be a freshman,” coach Donato joked. “I thought Thrun was excellent, in the d-zone, offensively, on the power play. I just thought he looked very comfortable for a guy playing his first collegiate game.”
Having tied the game, the Crimson kept going, tacking on a tie-breaking goal less than a minute later. The goal was Rathbone’s second, a top-corner snipe from the right faceoff dot. Still more was to come. 12 minutes into the middle period, a timely Thrun keep-in was carried in behind the goal line by Abruzzese, who then found sophomore forward Jack Drury for a one-timer that beat Ferguson. Drury’s tally was the dagger, though both Abruzzese and rookie John Farinacci added to the goal total in the third period.
Harvard’s offensive performance was backed by steady goal-tending from senior Cameron Gornet (3 GAA, .936 SV%). While Gornet has never started the lion’s share of games in his career, he proved himself in select contests last season. That calm kept out the Big Green in even high-grade scoring chances throughout the game.
The non-factor that was special teams on Friday was unusual for a contest between these two teams. The Crimson did not manage to score on any of its three man-advantage opportunities, though its 2-0 goal, scored by senior forward Colton Kerfoot, came right after a power play expired. Still, there will be plenty of time to tune up 5-on-4 play as the season goes ahead — and as Thrun (1–1—2), Abruzzese (1–2—3), and Farinacci (1–1—2) demonstrated, it is clear the team can get a great deal of mileage out of its skilled rookie class.
“It was really exciting,” Thrun said. “A lot of good plays were made out there. Thankfully [Abruzzese] had a great pass on my goal. I mean, you can’t do it without a team effort.”
Early chemistry will come in handy next week when Harvard plays host to Princeton and No. 9 Quinnipiac. The Bobcats, not beholden to the late-start rules of the Ivy League, have already put up an impressive non-conference record (4-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC); while the Tigers are the easier challenge of the weekend, the Crimson would be loath to take any two points for granted.
—Staff writer Stuti Telidevara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @StutiTelidevara.