PROVIDENCE, R.I. — For the first 10 minutes, it looked like Brown was well on its way to its first series sweep of Harvard in 23 years. But then the Crimson stepped it up.
After early dominance by the host Bears, sophomore forward Dennis Packard’s two goals ignited Harvard to an impressive 5-2 win. It was Packard’s first two-goal game of his career, and his line, featuring Rob Flynn and Brett Nowak, had a presence in the Brown zone all night.
“We are starting to feel comfortable together,” said Packard. “We were in synch a lot — it makes it easier in their end.”
Packard’s two goals came a result of Brown defensive letdowns, the first coming midway through the first period. Packard skated behind the Brown net and circled out in front, drawing little pressure from defenders. Once he got Bears’ goaltender Brian Eklund to commit, tying it at 1-1 was not a problem.
With less than a minute in the first, Packard got his second. A loose puck caromed its way to his stick behind all defenders, and he slipped it by a helpless Eklund to give the Crimson the lead.
The Bears had their drive back to respectability with strong defense and goaltending so far this year, but the story was a different one Saturday. Harvard cashed in on several Brown lapses to secure a solid three-goal win.
“We gave them too many easy goals,” said Brown head coach Roger Grillo. “You can’t leave guys uncovered in front of the net. It was a poor defensive game for us.”
It looked like Brown was the stronger team right off the bat. With the action concentrated in the Harvard end, a delayed penalty led to a sustained period of six-on-five action for the Bears. Eventually, freshman Les Haggett, who had a great game in a losing effort, made it 1-0 on a wide-open rebound in front. He would later add an assist on the second goal.
But Harvard answered the call, sustaining a strong effort throughout the rest of the first, and never let the Bears back in the game. They took a 3-1 lead to the third and iced Brown with steady play in the neutral zone and good finishing in front of the Brown net.
“We weren’t lethargic in the first,” said Harvard head coach Mark Mazzoleni. “We were just kind of watching them early in the first. After that, we were decisive in what we had to do. They had to play our pace of game.”
And that pace of play got the Crimson an important win before the ECAC goes on break for a few weeks.
Tim Pettit got Harvard’s lone second-period goal on a pretty one-timer. Pettit, noticing Brown defenseman Josh Barker stickless, set himself in the slot to receive a crisp pass from Brendan Kernakevitch. Pettit fired it what would be the eventual game-winner.
Early in the third Dominic Moore made it 4-1 on the power play. The Bears would cut the lead to 4-2 a little later in the third, but a Tyler Kolarik put an end to the scoring at 5-2. Adam Saunders had Brown’s third-period goal.
Both early in the second and early in the third Brown came out with the momentum, but unfortunate breaks and good offensive execution led to Harvard scoring. The Crimson avenged their season-opening loss to the Bears with relative ease as a result.
Harvard travels to Michigan next Saturday. The Bears are now off for exams until late December, when they will participate in the Badger Showdown in Milwaukee.