CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In a game marred by 33 penalties, 106 minutes of time in the box and three game misconducts, the Harvard Crimson defeated the Union Dutchmen 7-4.
Harvard (6-3-0, 6-2-0 ECAC) rebounded from a 3-0 loss to BU on Tuesday night, and continued its streak of winning convincingly after a loss.
“It’s definitely important to bounce back and not get in the groove of losing,” center Brett Nowak said.
Nowak, who served a game disqualification penalty against Boston University, was instrumental in helping the Crimson to avoid that groove, scoring two goals and adding one assist on an evening that saw Harvard pepper Union goalie Kris Mayotte with 46 shots.
The Crimson first embarked on its scoring binge halfway through the first period when winger Rob Fried charged the net following a Ryan Lannon blueline slap shot. With traffic in front, Fried managed to poke home the loose puck.
Many of the Crimson’s other six goals would follow a similar pattern, with shots from the point poked home off of rebounds or loose pucks in the crease.
One of the goals that was the exception to the rebound rule was the Crimson’s final score. Nowak and Union’s Jason Kean got into a tussle at the Dutchmen blue line, a tussle that ended with Nowak standing atop Kean and holding him down to the ice. The puck trickled back towards the two players and Nowak scooped it up, skating in on a breakaway from the blue line before he found the five-hole on Mayotte.
The Dutchmen (5-5-3, 2-2-1) dropped to their third straight to the Crimson but were resilient in consistently cutting down Harvard’s leads.
“I thought our team battled back,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It just seemed like every time we made progress, they answered, which is the sign of a good hockey team. I certainly didn’t feel like it was a 7-4 game.”
After looking skittish for the first period, the Dutchmen found their skates in the second, notching a power play goal at 2:41. Center Glenn Sanders won the draw deep in the Harvard zone back to winger Brian Kerr, who fired a quick shot that passed, sight unseen, between Dov Grumet-Morris’s legs.
That type of goal, coming off of a screen or a face-off, is something Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni described as his team’s “Achilles Heel”.
“I don’t think he [Grumet-Morris] could have stopped three of the goals,” Mazzoleni said. “We’ve got to do a better job on faceoff situations and in front of our net, because you can’t stop what you can’t see, and I think three of their goals he never saw.”
Union scored three times in the second period to narrow the deficit to 5-3, but was effectively put out of reach by two Crimson goals early in the third, including the controversial non-call on Nowak that led to a breakaway goal.
For his part, Sneddon was impressed by the Crimson’s play, citing them as one of the best team’s he has seen this season — in any league.
“First of all, we have to tip our hats to Harvard,” Sneddon said. “It’s not that we played that poorly, it’s that they played that well.”
The Crimson continues its home stand against Union Saturday night, while the Dutchmen head south to face Yann Danis and the Brown Bears in Providence.