NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Harvard exploded with five goals in the third period – including three in 61 seconds – as the Crimson overcame a four-goal deficit to beat Yale 7-5 before a sellout crowd at Ingalls Rink.
The Bulldogs (11-11, 9-6 ECAC) led 4-0 and 5-1 before the Crimson (9-11-2, 7-8-1), who outshot its archrival 58-29, staged the amazing comeback with six unanswered goals. Two of those goals came off the stick of Brendan Bernakevitch, who along with Dennis Packard (2 assists) had a three-point night.
The visitors also earned the victory with their second goalie of the night, Dov Grumet-Morris, stopping 14 of 15 shots on net and blanking Yale for the final 26:21.
Nearly lost in the highest-scoring Yale-Harvard tilt in 10 seasons was a career-high 51 saves (23 in the third period) by Yale goalie Josh Gartner, who had made 46 stops and had a two-goal advantage midway through the final frame.
Five different Elis lit the lamp but only defenseman Jeff Dwyer (two assists) finished with more than one point as Yale fell for the first time in seven games.
Joe Zappala, leading the nation with eight game-winning goals, got the Bulldogs on the board first with a snap shot that bounced off Harvard goalie John Daigneau at 12:55 of the first. The sophomore winger got the puck off a steal and a great lead pass by blueliner Jeff Dwyer.
Yale, which outshot Harvard 14-11 in the first 20 minutes, made it 2-0 at 16:42 of the opening frame on a goal that was somewhat controversial.
Defenseman Matthew Craig fired a shot on net that caromed off Daigneau and trickled toward the goal line. The Crimson netminder dove and swatted the puck with his stick as it touched the line inside the left post. The red light went on and the referee followed with a gesture to the back of the net.
Less than a minute later, Nate Jackson took a feed in the slot from Robert Burns, who was positioned along the boards. Jackson’s snap shot from a crowd of players found the net at 17:20 to make it 3-0.
Sophomore Yale winger Jeff Hristovski had the best move of the night to give Yale a four-goal advantage. With his squad on the power play, Hristovski took a pass from Dwyer and raced between two defenders inside the blueline before faking the Crimson goalie one way and slipping it past his stick with 34 seconds left in the frame.
Harvard, which replaced Daigneau (10 saves) with Grumet-Morris to start the second, broke the Yale momentum when Kenny Smith grabbed a Yale clear near midice and skated into the high slot before letting go a rising wrister that stunned Gartner at 7:28 of the second.
Yale grabbed the next goal on a pretty feed from Zach Mayer. The sophomore forward stole the puck from a Harvard forward at the Yale blueline and flipped a lead toss to senior Nate Murphy, who went in alone on Grumet-Morris at 13:39.
But that was all Yale could do on the scoreboard
The Crimson closed the gap to three before the end of the second when Brendan Bernakevitch capitalized on a Noah Welch pass and a power-play chance with 2:57 left.
That was the first of six straight scores, including five in the third.
Packard banged home his own rebound at 3:58 before Tyler Kolarik beat Gartner from the high slot at 12:36. Tim Pettit tipped home a Smith backhander less than a minute later and Harvard tallied the game-winner when Noah Welch’s shot found the net at 13:37.
Bernakevitch nailed the empty-netter with 1:08 on the clock to cement the improbable comeback.