CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The last time Harvard defeated Boston University at the Bright Hockey Center, Crimson junior goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris was in diapers, and freshman centerman Kevin Du was 2 1/2 years shy of being born.
Tonight they led the way to the first home win by the Crimson over the Terriers since Dec. 1, 1982. Grumet-Morris stopped 34 of 36 shots, and Du notched the game-winning goal, as Harvard broke open a 2-2 game in the second period en route to beating BU 5-2 before a crowd of 2,776.
It was also the first win against a Top 15 team for the Crimson since the 2002 ECAC tournament final against Cornell. Last season, Harvard was 0-7-1 against Top 15 teams, including 0-3 against both Cornell and BU, which knocked the Crimson out of the NCAAs.
Dennis Packard and Tyler Kolarik each picked up a goal and an assist for the Crimson (3-2-1), while Kenny Magowan had his team-leading fifth and six goals for the Terriers (3-4-3).
Harvard played an opportunistic and competitive game — none of its goals were on clean shots; most were off rebounds that it simply got to before any Terrier could clear the puck or take the man out of commission. It was an especially satisfying win for Crimson coach Mark Mazzoleni, who was concerned about a nine-day layoff for his team preceding tonight’s action.
“We know that one of their keys to success is their incredible good starts and how hard they play throughout a game, and I thought our kids matched them to a ‘T,’” Mazzoleni said. “I’m not going to say one team outcompeted the other, but we definitely played very hard, and I’m very proud of the kids. My biggest fear was not playing for so many days, and we responded well to that.”
If anything, Mazzoleni found that the layoff may have given his team an advantage.
“Fortunately for us, we haven’t played for a while, so we had a chance to dissect what they do and work on it for a couple of days,” said Mazzoleni. “Unfortunately for them, they had one look at us yesterday in practice, and you can’t really do a lot when you’ve just played on Saturday. So we knew had to do a good job getting to the net.”
What did Harvard learn about the Terriers during their analysis?
“They generate their offense off their transition game; they jump their ‘D’ incredibly well from the weak side and off the rush they try to get the puck to the net and crash it,” said Mazzoleni. “We had to do a good job boxing them out around our net, and I thought we did that.”
Understandably, Terrier Coach Jack Parker was frustrated by the outcome.
“We’re not going to win many games giving up five goals,” Parker said. “I thought we made some crucial mistakes — didn’t cover guys when we had to cover them, especially down in the crease.
“And the way we’re not scoring goals — we get 16 shots in the third period and don’t get a goal — that adds up to a loss,” added Parker. “In general, we’re just so snake-bitten, so concerned about getting a goal, that we’re getting real frustrated. … It ain’t working.”
Things seemed to be working fairly well for the Terriers in the early going. Goalie Sean Fields made a nice save when Brendan Bernakevitch broke in on him at 4:10, only to have Fields offer him part of the net before taking it away when the junior attempted to slip a backhander by him.
Then the Terriers’ power play — an Achilles heel much of this year to date — showed signs of life, as BU scored on its first opportunity of the night. Frantisek Skladany crossed the ice toward the left-wing side before wheeling to feed it to freshman defenseman Kevin Schaeffer at the right point. Grumet-Morris made the initial save, but Magowan knocked in the rebound at 6:57.
Before long, though, Harvard countered with two goals in less than two minutes. Fields made a bad choice on the first one. Noah Welch’s shot missed well wide on the glove side but took a big carom off the end boards and came out toward the right-wing faceoff dot. For some reason, Fields lunged to try to bat the puck to the corner, but he missed it, and the puck went out toward the dot. Tom Cavanagh picked it up and pinpointed a wrister through a few players in the slot, sending the puck high into the net with Fields out of position.
Behind the goal line shortly thereafter, Bernakevitch fired a little pass to Tyler Kolarik in the slot, and his high backhander made it 2-1. Late in the period, Schaeffer and Magowan teamed up for another Terrier goal, as Magowan again deposited a chunky rebound of a Schaeffer shot — this one from about 15 feet out.
The second period proved to be the difference, as Harvard again scored two goals in under two minutes. On the first one, Fields went down, looking to cover a puck in the crease, but he failed to do so. Freshman Kevin Du knocked it in for the eventual game winner — just part of a good night for the spunky freshman line of Du, Steve Mandes and Ryan Maki.
“The key thing was that we had a lot of energy out there, and every shift we were able to penetrate on their ‘D’ and sustain pressure,” Du said. “That helped our team gain momentum.”
“Like any freshmen, they play with a lot of energy,” said Mazzoleni. “They have the ability to make plays. Sometimes when you’re a freshman, you play so hard because you’re afraid that [if you don't] you’ll be out of the lineup. You wish you could that urgency into your whole team all the time. They played extremely, but we got production from all four lines.”
It certainly did. On a power play shortly after that goal, Harvard only required 23 seconds with the man advantage before making it 4-2. Tim Pettit took a shot from the left point; Fields made the save but overcommitted to his right, and the rebound went straight out to Dennis Packard, who had plenty of net to hit.
“I don’t think Sean’s been as sharp lately for us, as sharp as he was the second half of last year,” Parker conceded. “But when there’s rebounds, we need to clear those out too. There’s an awful lot of people standing around the net for that second shot.”
The third period was uneventful early on, but ultimately the Terriers mounted some pressure, outshooting their hosts 16-6, only to give up another goal to seal it with just under three minutes left. Rob Flynn got a flukey one when Noah Welch brought the puck to net, only to have it take several bounces before getting tapped in by Flynn.
BU continues nonconference action this weekend with home games against ECAC foes Dartmouth and Yale on Friday and Sunday, while Harvard hosts ECAC adversaries St. Lawrence and Clarkson on Friday and Saturday.