CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In a matchup between the nationally ranked Harvard Crimson (4-2-1, 3-2-1 ECAC) and the struggling St. Lawrence Saints (3-9-3, 2-4-0), few people expected the score to be knotted at nothing after the first period.
But Crimson coach Mark Mazzoleni was not surprised about the nature of Harvard’s 3-0 win.
“It was the exact type of game I thought it would be,” he said. “It was a 3-0 game, but the score was much closer than that.”
That type of game can best be described as sloppy for the first twenty minutes but increasingly fast-paced over the final forty.
In the first, the Saints matched the Crimson nearly shot for shot, throwing 12 pucks at goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris while Harvard directed 14 at Mike McKenna. Both teams had one power play opportunity in midway through the period, but it was a seemingly failed power play near the end of the first that finally gave Harvard a lead.
The Saints’ Kyle Rank was whistled off for hooking at 18:15 of the first, but in the nearly two minutes of skating a man-up, the Crimson came up with nothing. The period ended 0-0, and the second period started with a mere 15 ticks left on the power play.
Mazzoleni took the somewhat unusual step of putting neither his first or his second power play units on the ice to try and utilize the remaining time. He instead rolled out his starting forward line of Kolarik-Bernakevitch-Johnson, and the defensive pairing of Dave McCulloch and Tom Walsh. And those starters came up with the game’s first goal 14 seconds into the second, as Johnson, amidst traffic in front of McKenna, managed to get a stick on a McCulloch shot from the point. McKenna could not manage to do the same, and Harvard had a 1-0 lead.
The Crimson extended its lead later in the second, taking advantage of a line-change to get an odd-man rush into the St. Lawrence zone. Forward Tim Pettit had the puck and was skating hard towards the net. With a Saints’ defenseman draped all-over him, he slid the puck to linemate Dennis Packard, who was skating parallel to Pettit on the two-on-one break. Packard fired a hard shot from the edge of the right face-off circle that McKenna couldn’t catch up with, and Harvard had a 2-0 lead after two.
From that point on, the Crimson held off the Saints, limiting them to eight shots in the third, and adding an insurance goal by Kolarik off of a nifty pass from Johnson. Coming with less than two minutes left, that score iced the game.
Despite his team’s loss, Saint Lawrence coach Joe Marsh agreed that his team competed well with the Crimson.
“Our effort was there,” Marsh said. “We’re not quite there with the Crimson at this point on converting our chances.”
And part of the credit for denying the Saints any conversions, despite the chances they had, was the play of Grumet-Morris, who followed up on his strong play in a 5-2 win over BU by shutting out the Saints, stopping all 26 shots he faced.
“Dov did a really good job in goal for them,” Marsh said. “Early on he made a couple of big saves.”
Mazzoleni agreed, calling it Grumet-Morris’ best game of the year. Across the ice, McKenna turned in a “solid job,” according to Marsh, but he was not able to stop Harvard from converting on three of its 26 shots, sending the Crimson into tomorrow night’s game against Clarkson on a three game win streak and sending the Saints out of Cambridge and down I-95 for a match against Brown on a down note.