PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The oldest rivalry in college hockey renewed Friday night and exhibited one of the oldest syndromes in opening-night play — rust.
Harvard center Dominic Moore scored a power-play goal at 10:14 of the first period and neither side did much offensively after that until the third period as the Crimson blanked Brown, 3-0, in front of 1,312 at Meehan Auditorium. A total of 17 penalties were called in a chippy game with little flow to the attack.
“I thought the play was sloppy, with too many penalties,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said. “We played by far our best period in the third. We knew that [Brown] is a hard working team and we had to continue to play hard.”
It looked for the longest time that Moore’s first-period strike would be the lone goal in the contest. Brown goalie Brian Eklund stopped a tough backhand by freshman winger Tyler Kolarik, but Moore was waiting on the doorstep to roof the rebound.
Despite suffering a clear deficit in team speed, the Bears were able to contain the Crimson attack and keep themselves in the game until late in the third period. At 15:31, assistant captain Chris Bala iced the game by tucking in an easy rebound off a shot by sophomore Brett Nowak from between the hash marks.
“We played all right as a team, but didn’t create enough scoring chances,” Brown coach Roger Grillo said. “They have a lot of speed and skill up front, which is something we haven’t seen yet in the young season. I thought we were able to skate with them in the second period, but we couldn’t keep it up.”
Brown had a rough night offensively. Its trapping style of defense managed to clog up the neutral zone in the second period and slow down the Harvard attack, but it couldn’t turn around and create chances of its own. While the Bears managed to generate 28 shots on goal, most of them were relatively easy for senior goaltender Oliver Jonas to turn aside.
The Bears had a couple of good chances in the third, most of them by sophomore winger Chris Legg, who had the best night up front for Brown with four shots on goal. He had a great opportunity to tie the game about six minutes into the final frame. Legg boomed a slapshot off a rebound in the slot that caught Jonas out of position, but the goalie recovered in time to kick the puck away.
It was the first career shutout for Jonas, who was making his first start as the team’s top goalie after backing up former Crimson star J.R. Prestifilippo for his previous three seasons.
“It feels great, getting my first career shutout,” Jonas said. “Our defense played great. Most of the shots were from the perimeter and they did an excellent job clearing out rebounds.”
Harvard played sound defense despite dressing only five defensemen, since two of its blueliners — Graham Morrell and Kenny Smith — were injured. The ailing corps received another wound when hard-hitting freshman, Dave McCulloch went down with an unspecified injury. Sophomore Aaron Kim took his spot in the back, returning to the position he played during his rookie season.
Aside from some scoring flurries in the closing and opening minutes of the game, the rest of the contest was marked by some rough-and-tumble hockey, refereed strictly by Dan Murphy.
The chippiness culminated in a wild sequence with 27 seconds remaining in the second period that created the best chance for either team in that frame.
Brown sophomore Tye Korbl leveled a Crimson defenseman along the boards in the Harvard zone. While the players were focused on the carnage, the puck came out to Bear senior Doug Janjevich, who got off a quick shot, followed by an effort by junior Josh Barker. Barker’s shot sat in the crease before an alert Jonas could sprawl onto the puck — and the shoving resumed.
“It’s a physical game,” Kolarik said. “Mazzoleni is very strict about finishing checks whenever possible and we’re a strong team that isn’t going to back down.”
Harvard captain Steve Moore finished out the scoring of the game, on a shorthanded goal with exactly one minute left in the contest. Moore drilled a shot over Eklund’s left shoulder from the slot.
That goal very well could’ve been his second of the night as he put a very similar shot past Eklund at 15:27 of the first, but the goal was disallowed as junior winger Jeff Stonehouse was tagged for a holding the stick penalty.