CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Friday night, Harvard captain Steve Moore led the way with four points against Union. Apparently, his younger brother, Dominic, got jealous.
Sophomore center Dominic Moore scored the Crimson’s first hat trick since Jan. 3, 1999 and Harvard steamrolled past No. 12 Rensselaer, 5-2, Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Bright Hockey Center, completing a weekend home sweep.
The win was just Harvard’s second victory in its past 11 tries against the Engineers.
“It is a good weekend anytime you can come up with four points, especially after a bit of difficult times,” Harvard Coach Mark Mazzoleni said. “We finished very well tonight. Steve Moore and Dom generated a lot of offense and we were good again on special teams.”
Harvard’s offense really came alive this weekend, especially on the power play. The Crimson was 3-for-4 with the man advantage, a total that included two of Dom Moore’s trio. Harvard had two power-play goals in its 5-3 win over Union the previous night, adding a dangerous man-up unit to an already stellar penalty kill. RPI could not convert any of its six chances with the man advantage.
To add insult to injury, freshman Tyler Kolarik netted a shorthanded goal to give Harvard one more shorthanded goal than its ECAC opponents have power play goals.
“We added some speed and energy to our penalty kill,” Mazzoleni said. “Some of our best penalty killers are also among our top-six scorers and sometimes the other team gets complacent out there and you can generate scoring chances.”
But the night belonged to Dominic Moore.
RPI got on the board first, but Moore tied up the game at 14:51 of the first period, backhanding a rebound from above the crease just inside the far post past RPI rookie goalie Nathan Marsters.
Moore finished his hat trick with two goals in less than two minutes of the second, both on the power play. From behind the net, assistant captain Chris Bala hit Moore at the right faceoff circle and Moore rung it around the net inside the top right corner and out the other side, at 1:37.
For the third tally — Moore’s eighth of the season — his older brother, Steve, controlled the puck around the left faceoff circle and found Dom creeping into the low slot, where Moore roofed it over Marsters’ glove at 3:18.
All three goals by Moore came on very hard, accurate shots.
“I was feeling especially accurate in warmups today,” Moore said. “It was my first collegiate hat trick, that was something very special.”
RPI coach Dan Fridgen tried, with futility, to downplay Moore’s feat after the game.
“Harvard did a good job finding him when he was open,” Fridgen said. “It doesn’t take Mario Lemieux to score the goals he did. You could’ve put them in with one arm on the stick.”
Bala netted a goal at 2:22 of the third period, on assists from Tim Petit and Dom Moore, to open a 4-1 lead as Harvard took the offensive to RPI and certainly controlled the game physically.
The always dangerous Engineers did manage 43 shots for the tilt, but only really sustained pressure on Crimson goalie Oli Jonas in the latter stages of the second period; Jonas was his usual spectacular self.
He robbed RPI sniper Nolan Graham on a two-on-one with around 6:30 left in the second. Graham waited just above the crease and picked his spot, but Jonas snatched the puck with his glove.
RPI definitely missed two of its top offensive players, Marc Cavosie, who is still on his way back from the World Junior tournament in Moscow, and sophomore surprise Carson Butterwick, who suffered a back injury the previous night at Brown.
“The team we had on the ice tonight was good enough to beat Harvard,” Fridgen said. “We could’ve done better offensively. We made Jonas look like a superstar with the shots we took.”
Harvard, however, was without one of its best offensive players; sophomore Brett Nowak also was representing the U.S. in Russia. Moreover, defenseman Aaron Kim was serving the first of a two-game suspension he received for a game disqualification penalty against Union. Kim’s ineligibility, plus the possibly season-ending shoulder injury to junior Graham Morrell, left Harvard with effectively only five defensemen. Junior Leif Ericson dressed, but did not see any ice time at the blueline.
With Kenny Smith now in the lineup, that meant three of Harvard’s five defensemen were freshmen.
“We are still giving up too many shots per game, that is a component of our inexperience on defense,” Mazzoleni said. “But our young guys are starting to get comfortable because they’ve been seeing a lot of ice time in different situations.”
Ryan Shields brought the Engineers within two goals at 8:17 of the third, but Kolarik netted an unusual shorthanded strike to restore a comfortable three-goal cushion at 9:51. The freshman led a two-on-two rush down the right wing that was degenerating to a two-on-one. He slid a pass over to Petit, but an RPI defender dove down to breakup the pass. He did, but he ended up sliding himself and the puck into the net.
The victory has tremendous early season implications for Harvard. The Crimson currently stand in first place in the ECAC, but after a set at Yale and Princeton next weekend, will go into its exam break while the rest of the league will catch up in games. RPI has three games in hand with Harvard, but the Crimson has a six-point lead in the standings, meaning all those games in hand are wins.
Harvard has not started off a season this well in the ECAC since 1993-94, when it went to the Frozen Four.
The loss derailed RPI a little bit. The Engineers had gone 7-1-1 in their previous nine on its way to the best national ranking in the ECAC.
The last time a Harvard player netted a hat trick against RPI was in a 6-4 loss at Houston Field House on Jan. 9, 1998. The Crimson captain that year, Jeremiah McCarthy, pulled off the surprising triple in a game that also featured a rare goal by winger Doug Sproule, but Harvard lost anyway thanks to a little offensive show by Danny Riva.