TROY, N.Y. — Trailing 2-1, Harvard scored five goals in the second period and went on to defeat Rensselaer, 6-4. Harvard, which saw six different players score goals, remains in first place in the ECAC, tied with Cornell with 26 points, while the Engineers are in 11th place in the league. RPI, which has six points, has now lost six straight games and is now winless in its last nine contests (0-8-1).
“We needed to score some goals; we haven’t scored a lot of goals lately,” said Harvard head coach Mark Mazzoleni. “Hopefully that’s a good omen for us.”
Harvard took a 3-2 lead early in the second period with a pair of quick goals. Sophomore Ryan Lannon scored on a slapshot from the blue line just 54 seconds into the period and freshman Charlie Johnson scored his second of the season from the left faceoff circle.
Lannon’s shot trickled through a maze of legs and then the five-hole of Engineer goaltender Kevin Kurk. Johnson brought the puck all the way into the zone and when an Engineer defenseman backed off, Johnson also put it through Kurk’s five-hole.
Dennis Packard potted his fourth of the season at 7:51, as he found the short side on Kurk and in the process chased Kurk in favor of Nathan Marsters.
Marsters fell victim to an outstanding play by Dominic Moore just three minutes into his shift, as the senior captain held the puck and eluded two defenders before depositing his 13th goal of the season.
“That was a real nice play by Moore,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “If you’re going to give a player like that time and space and you’re not going to play the body, he’ll do that to you every time.
“He’ll bring it up the side of your shirt, around the collar, and bring it down again and it won’t even touch your back — that’s how skilled he is. You have to play the body because he’s not the only skilled forward that they’ve got.
“We got caught puck-watching and when you get puck-watching, I tell you what, well, you saw what happened.”
Aaron Kim added a goal at 17:54 to give the visitors a 6-2 advantage, but the Engineers manufactured another late-period goal to cut into the lead, as C.J. Hanafin finished a three-on-one with his third goal of the season with just :39 remaining on the clock. Hanafin roofed one over the shoulder of Dov Grumet-Morris.
Rensselaer jumped out to an early lead in the first period when senior Carson Butterwick knocked in a rebound of a Nick Economakos shot six minutes in. The play developed when junior Ben Barr sent a shot from the left half-boards, which Grumet-Morris kicked out. Economakos got two shots off the original rebound before Butterwick tallied his third of the season.
The Crimson knotted the scored just 1:20 later when sophomore Brendan Bernakevitch scored between the legs of Kurk and into the back of the net. Tom Cavanagh, who won a faceoff right back to Bernakevitch, who scored his fourth of the season.
The Engineers fought back to regain the lead when Nolan Graham scored on a rebound from the right of the crease. Ryan Shields fed Graham from the left-side half-boards and Graham maneuvered the puck around Grumet-Morris before putting it in.
Economakos scored with 45 seconds left for the final margin. Grumet-Morris finished with 32 saves while Kurk (eight saves) and Marsters (13) combined for 21 saves.
“We moved the puck extremely well, we used all of our options in the offensive zone in the second period and we were able to really put some distance between us and them at that point in time. That was the turning point,” said Crimson coach Mark Mazzoleni. “You gain momentum from positive experiences. We got one and we gained a little and then we got another.
“They’re having a challenging year this year, and there’s a loss of confidence on their end and ours raises. You’re making plays and finishing things and that can happen.”
“I felt that there were a couple of shifts where we got caught running around defensively, and that’s going to happen in games, but for the most part I thought we played real well and generated a lot of offense,” said Fridgen. “I thought we played with a lot of energy and outworked them at times and the only difference was that they got six goals and we got four. Against a team like Harvard, when you score four goals, hey, I thought we played well enough to win.
“Those guys in the locker room played their hearts out. We generated a lot of offense, held off their potent power play, so overall I thought we did a pretty decent job.”
With the victory, the Crimson, the 13th-ranked team in the nation, improve to 14-7-1 overall and 13-3-0 in the ECAC. Rensselaer is now 8-19-2 overall and 13-3-0 in the league.
Rensselaer returns to action on Saturday night when it hosts Brown in the 26th Annual Big Red Freakout! at 7 p.m. Harvard plays Northeastern in the consolation game of the Beanpot. Monday’s game will begin at 5 p.m.