CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In a rematch from opening night, Brown managed its first goals against Harvard this year, but that doesn’t mean it had much offense.
The No. 13 Crimson scored twice in the first period and never really looked back, defeating Brown, 5-3, in a penalty-laden game. The victory made freshman goalie Will Crothers a winner in his collegiate debut in front of 1,615 at Bright Hockey Center. Crothers only faced 25 shots on the night.
Brown lost, 3-0, to Harvard on Nov. 3.
“We played a pretty good hockey game,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said. “We felt that to be successful we had to put pressure on their defensemen and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
Harvard stormed out of the gates in the first period. Freshman Tim Petit got Harvard on the board at 7:53, skating around the back of the net into the slot and rifling a shot inside the right post through a screen. Star rookie Tyler Kolarik enabled the Crimson’s second strike of the period, flying out of the right corner and forcing Brown goaltender Brian Eklund to make a spectacular save. However, sophomore Brett Nowak followed the play to the goal and slammed home the rebound at 14:04.
Brown clearly had trouble matching Harvard’s speed and strength in this contest. The Bears were outshot 15-3 in the first period as the Crimson did a much better job fighting through their clutch-and-grab defense than it did when the two teams met on opening day.
“Harvard dominated the first period,” Brown coach Roger Grillo said. “I thought we were the better team in the second and it was even in the third. Obviously, this was a specialty-teams game.”
The only time that Brown could slow Harvard’s attack was when the Crimson derailed itself, taking four penalties in the second period, including two too-many-men on the ice infractions, the first of which led to Brown’s first goal of the game, a close-in shot by senior Matt Kohansky that managed to squirt past Crothers at 10:07 to narrow Harvard’s lead to 2-1.
Kohansky had two goals Thursday night, scoring his other one at 9:33 of the third.
Brown, however, took its fair share of penalties and the Crimson made them pay dearly for it. Harvard scored two unanswered power play goals by assistant captain Chris Bala at 18:13 of the second and by captain Steve Moore at 6:52 of the third period to erase any hopes of a Brown comeback.
The Crimson power play was surprisingly effective, going 3-for-5 after previously converting just 9 on 51 chances (17.6 percent). Brown, meanwhile, only managed Kohansky’s goal with the man advantage while receiving seven man-ups.
“[Assistant coach Nate] Leaman saw that the opposition was cheating up on our points,” Mazzoleni said. “They were coming across leaving the whole weak side lane open. So we were trying to pass back across the grain and it worked with Petit’s goal perfectly. That was a big goal for us.”
Crothers, a gangly 6-2, 170-pound goalie, performed adequately in his first collegiate start, stopping 22 of 25 shots. Brown, however, rarely tested him and the Harvard defense paid special attention to stand the Bears up on the blueline and clear rebounds. In fact, his most spectacular moment in net came while Brown had pulled the goaltender with about one minute left. Crothers’ clearing attempt went straight down the middle of the rink and just missed the vacant goal by six inches.
Crothers, Harvard’s goaltender of the future, was initially projected to start about every third or fourth game for the Crimson in order to prepare him for the rigors of next year. Senior goal Oli Jonas, however, forced Mazzoleni to adjust his plans with his magnificent play thus far.
“I hope when I look back upon my four-year career, I can say that was my worst game,” Crothers said. “I didn’t really contribute to the win.”
These two travel partners were both looking to capitalize off a successful trip to the North Country. Brown battled Clarkson and St. Lawrence to a pair of 3-3 ties, while Harvard earned a split on the weekend, picking up its first win at Cheel Arena since 1995.
Freshman Kenny Turano notched the Crimson’s other goal, banging home a beautiful feed from junior Jared Cantanucci at 12:02 of the third period for the second goal of his collegiate career to make the game, 5-2. Brown defenseman Chris Busby bagged Brown’s final tally with the goaltender pulled at 19:13.
Harvard now gets set for an early-season ECAC showdown at Vermont, which has yet to lose a conference game. The Catamounts trail Harvard by three points in the standings, but have four games in hand over the Crimson.