BURLINGTON, Vt. — In a high-scoring, but sloppy game that featured four ties and five lead changes, the Harvard Crimson defeated the Vermont Catamounts in UVM’s ECAC-opener, 6-4. With the win, the Crimson improved to 1-1-0 on the season, and rebounded from last week’s upset loss to Brown.
Harvard started the contest’s scoring on the first ever career goal by freshman center Kevin Du.
Early in the first period, Du took a pass in the Vermont zone from fellow freshman Ryan Maki and skated hard along the boards. He back-handed a shot that caught Catamount goaltender Travis Russell off-guard, beating him low on his far side to give Harvard a 1-0 lead at 2:39.
That score held for nearly eight minutes, and through one Vermont power play, but on the second man-advantage the Catamounts evened the count. Forward Scott Mifsud tallied the first of his two goals at 10:29, taking advantage of the Crimson’s penalty killing unit when Du drew a whistle for holding the stick.
Mifsud wasn’t done, however, notching another goal from a nearly identical spot three minutes later, giving Vermont a 2-1 lead.
The Crimson picked up the pace and started to pin Vermon in its zone. Brendan Bernakevitch took advantage of some dead-legs on Vermont and snapped a quick, low shot past Rusell to tie the score at two near the end of the first period.
The litany of lead changes continued in the second, with Vermont striking first.
After four-and-a-half minutes had gone by, the Catamounts set up their power play in the Crimson’s zone, and rotated the puck. Vermont defenseman Jamie Sifers received the puck along the blue line and slapped it hard. Brady Leisenring, clogging the middle and trying to screen the goalie, got his stick on it, and lifted it up and over Crimson netminder John Daigneau’s right shoulder.
The tally gave Vermont a 3-2 lead.
Harvard would come back, and at 10:57, enjoying its second straight power play, Crimson center Charlie Johnson took the puck from the face-off circle and skated in a slow arc towards the middle of the ice. Just as he was starting to draw coverage, he wristed a quick shot at Russell; the puck went between his legs and dribbled into the back of the net, knotting the score at three.
The pair of penalties that led to two Harvard power plays in short succession hurt some of the momentum that Vermont had built up, and was one of the concerns Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon had after the game.
“We had some breakdowns that they capitalized on,” he said. “The one thing I was most disappointed in was the penalties.”
Gaining momentum from Vermont’s penalties and its own time on the power play, the Crimson kept the puck in the Catamount end, despite playing at even strength.
Dennis Packard, shooting point-blank from Russell’s left after a pass across the crease from linemate Tim Pettit, gave Harvard a 4-3 lead less than two minutes after Johnson’s score.
But that lead did not last long; at 13:44 the Catamounts evened the score again when captain Jeff Miles skated hard into the Harvard zone. Untouched by the Crimson defense, he looped around behind the net and emerged on Daigneau’s left side to pop home the game-tying goal.
The stalemate was broken again, with less than a minute until the second period expired.
Having pinned Vermont in its own zone over a long shift, and the Crimson again took advantage of the Catamounts tired defenders.
Packard had the puck taken from him at the right face-off circle in the Vermont end, but he quickly stole it back and circled behind the net. Defenseman Peter Hafner set a beautiful screen at the top of the left face-off circle which absorbed two Vermont defenders. This freed Packard to loop back to the middle. Similar to Johnson, he wristed a shot over Russell’s left shoulder, and gave Harvard a 5-4 lead.
“We wore them down like on Dennis Packard’s goal,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni noted, assessing the success of Harvard’s offense as the game progressed.
Crimson assistant captain Tyler Kolarik, who had four points on the night, added an insurance goal at 13:46 of the third period, to help put the game away. On the night, Harvard had six players with two or more points, a serious improvement after it was shutout by Brown a week ago.
“All the way down the line, everyone really contributed tonight,” Kolarik said.
“I thought we did a lot of good things offensively tonight.”
Notes: Harvard senior forward Kenny Turano left the game early in the first period. Preliminary reports suggested that he sustained a serious ankle injury, and his season is in doubt.