CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni looked at his line chart before Friday night’s game with St. Lawrence and decided a change was in order. Mazzoleni shook things up a bit, matching up junior center Dominic Moore with sophomore wingers Tyler Kolarik and Rob Fried for the first time this season.
It worked like a charm for the Crimson (4-4-1, 4-2-1 ECAC), as the trio accounted for both of Harvard’s goals in a 2-1 victory over St. Lawrence (3-7-0, 1-3-0) before 2,306 at Bright Hockey Center.
“I played with Robbie for three years at Deerfield [Academy], so it’s easy to know his game, and Dom’s just a great player,” Kolarik said. “Those guys always make plays.”
As it turned out, that line made the biggest play of the night against the Saints.
With the game tied 1-1 and less than a minute to play in the third period, Peter Capouch’s shot from the left point glanced off the back of the net. Fried collected the rebound along the boards and worked it to Moore directly behind the net.
Moore then weaved a picture perfect pass to Kolarik, who was standing wide open in the high slot. Kolarik hesitated for a split-second to set the puck on his stick before beating St. Lawrence goaltender Mike McKenna low to his glove side for the game winner with just 21 seconds to play.
“We had been working all week on chipping the puck down low and keeping it moving,” Kolarik said. “Rob chipped it in and Dom made a great pass. … I had the easy part.”
Kolarik’s goal was even more significant when considering the Crimson had to kill a five-on-three St. Lawrence power play only moments before.
“When adversity hit with the penalties, we responded with a real big kill,” Mazzoleni said. “Then we got the big play from our big players.”
Just as notable as Harvard’s new line combination, however, was the conspicuous absence of Moore and sophomore forward Tim Pettit — who is tied for the NCAA lead in power play goals with six — from Harvard’s power play unit throughout the game.
“I didn’t think we had been playing as hard as we should be over the past three or four games, and if you want to call that a message, it was a message sent,” Mazzoleni said of the special teams adjustment. “You can’t take for granted the situations that you have. If you don’t work within those situations, you become vulnerable to giving other people opportunities, and that’s what happened.
“I expect that each of those guys will be back on [the power play] in the near future. … They responded how I expected they would respond. They played hard, and if they continue to do that, they’ll get back in those situations.”
The Crimson power play certainly missed Moore and Pettit against the Saints, going 0-for-5 on the night. Plenty of credit was due to St. Lawrence, though, whose penalty kill — No. 1 in ECAC play going into the weekend — limited Harvard to a scarce number of quality scoring opportunities on the man advantage.
The stingy Saint penalty kill was among the many things that pleased St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh.
“That was just a great college game,” he said. “I’m proud of our effort. I really feel that’s the best game we’ve played all year.”
Marsh was particularly impressed with the play of his upperclassmen, especially that of senior captain Robin Carruthers.
“I know it’s early in the year, but I think [Carruthers] is one of the best captains I’ve ever had,” Marsh said. “He’s always been a leader, and he always comes up with huge goals.”
As it turned out, Carruthers had the Saints’ biggest — albeit their only — tally on the night.
With Harvard leading 1-0 in the opening minutes of the third period, SLU defenseman Jimmy Ball made an immaculate pass from his own zone through neutral ice. It somehow found its way through traffic and hit Carruthers’ stick just as he crossed the Harvard blue line.
The SLU captain then skated in alone and beat Harvard goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris five-hole to tie the game at 4:43 of the period.
Until that point, another tally courtesy of the Kolarik-Moore-Fried line was the only mark on the scoreboard.
Moore wrestled with a Saint defender and was able to send the puck out to the left faceoff circle. Fried was waiting there and pounded the puck past McKenna high to his glove side for a 1-0 Crimson advantage just 3:49 into the action.
Grumet-Morris made 31 saves — including 13 in the first period — while McKenna stopped 28 Crimson shots.
SLU will travel to Providence, R.I. to face Brown on Saturday night, while the Crimson will play host to Clarkson.