HAMILTON, N.Y. — In a game that found every way possible to turn ugly, the Harvard Crimson trounced the Colgate Raiders 7-1 at Starr Rink on Saturday night.
Harvard (5-2-0, 5-2-0 ECAC) put on an offensive clinic, pouring 43 shots on Colgate (5-7-1, 2-4-0) goaltender David Cann and converting on three of six power-play chances.
“We played very, very hard,” said Harvard head coach Mark Mazzoleni. “I thought our guys were ready to play tonight, which is a step in our maturity as a team.”
The game remained scoreless after the first period thanks to some amazing saves by Cann. The junior deserved a better fate against the Crimson, and proved the only effective player to keep Harvard from reaching double digits.
“David played pretty well, and made some great stops,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “They had a great game and kept the puck in our end for most of the night.”
Harvard got on the board in striking fashion with two quick goals midway through the second period. A shot from between the circles by center Brett Nowak whistled wide of the Colgate net, but Tim Pettit tapped the rebound off of the boards past a stunned Cann for his first of two goals on the night.
The Crimson followed up their first goal with a second less than :30 later. Defenseman Noah Welsh let loose a slapshot that cleanly beat Cann to the stick side. Tyler Kolarik and Charlie Johnson, both of whom recorded three points on the night, assisted on the eventual game-winning goal.
“We had a pretty decent first period,” said Vaughan. “Once they got their first goal, they found their killer instinct, and they came pretty hard at us.”
Harvard’s third goal of the game came once again by way of a defenseman. After center Tom Cavanagh’s strong drive to the net was stopped by Cann, Kenny Smith pinched in from the blue line and banged home the rebound a mere eight seconds after the previous goal.
“When you play teams that play well defensively,” said Mazzoleni, “they’re going to have a third man back. So even if you’re attacking three men, it’s still going to be an even situation and you’ve got to get your ‘D’ up to create some offense. That’s what we’ve been stressing.”
The game quickly got out of hand, as the Crimson extended their lead to 4-0 thanks to a second-period goal by Aaron Kim, and then opened up a five-goal lead on Pettit’s second tally of the night early in the third. Only Colgate’s J.R. Bria ruined an otherwise stellar night from Harvard goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris, who stopped 25 of 26 shots faced.
“I thought [Grumet-Morris] was excellent,” said Mazzoleni. “He’s played four very good games in a row for us, and given us the type of goaltending that we have to have if we are going to compete for an ECAC championship.”
With the game already decided, tempers began to flare. Referee Jeff Fulton issued a game misconduct to Harvard’s Nowak for spearing, which carries with it an automatic game suspension for the center. This led to a brief tirade from Mazzoleni from his position on the bench, forcing Fulton to assess a two-minute bench minor as well.
Things grew even uglier when Colgate’s Kyle Wilson delivered a vicious slash at center ice and was given a five-minute major.
“I thought the game deteriorated,” said Mazzoleni. “I thought it was going that way in the second period. It wasn’t a good moment for college hockey in the third period. I know Coach Vaughan wasn’t happy with his team, and I wasn’t happy with mine in the way they responded.”
Said Vaughan, “There’s no room in the game for what Kyle Wilson did. I think he felt that the guy may have gone a little low on him, but you can’t turn around and slash a kid like that. There’s just no room in the game for it.”
Harvard scored twice on the power play following Wilson’s major, as Johnson and Cavanagh both found the back of the net. In the end, the Crimson handed Colgate its worst loss of the season.
“They’re a better team than us,” said Vaughan. “There’s no question about that. They have some of the best forwards in the league, and they took it to us. We had some mistakes made by our young guys tonight, but the thing that’s going to stick with me is the way the game finished. I was very disappointed with our team, and some of the actions of some of our guys.”
The Raiders will lick their wounds for a week before facing nonconference foe Niagara on December 5. Harvard travels to BU on Tuesday night where they will most likely have to find a way to win without a key piece to their success, Nowak.