CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard continued its dominance over ranked opponents at home, downing No. 16 Union, 4-3 Saturday night. The Crimson has won eight of its last nine home games against ranked teams since 2007-2008, and holds a 3-1 record over ranked foes this season at Bright Hockey Center.
Union attempted to rekindle its late-game heroics from its win over Dartmouth last night as the clock waned in the final frame, notching three quick goals in less than six minutes.
However, Harvard winger Alex Killorn’s power-play goal midway through the third period proved to be the difference.
“We were on the power play and moving it around really well,” Kilhorn said. “I got a nice pass from Alex Fallstrom and I took a shot and beat him glove side.”
The opening frame proved uneventful, as Harvard and Union played an evenly-matched first period. Aside from a few isolated chances late in the first period, including center John Simpson’s failure to bury a quick pass from Dutchmen winger Brian Yanovitch in the circle with less than seven minutes remaining in the first and Killorn’s backhanded near-miss at the halfway point after an end-to-end rush, neither team could get much going.
“I didn’t think we played desperate enough,” said Union coach Nate Leaman. “We toyed around with that game. We had the puck a lot in the first period, so we got comfortable, thinking it was going to be an easier game than it was.”
In the second period, a rejuvenated Harvard squad scattered three tallies throughout the first 15 minutes and forced Union back on its heels. Harvard opened the scoring at 1:41 with a lucky bounce from center Alex Fallstrom at the bottom of the circle that deflected in to the net off of Dutchmen netminder Corey Milan.
“That was a lazy play by our goaltender,” Leaman said. “And it’s part of not being desperate.”
Harvard bought itself more insurance at 6:57 in the second period when winger David Valek slammed home a rebound from center Pier-Olivier Michaud’s backhanded shot in the low slot to make it 2-0.
The Crimson capped off its second-period scoring frenzy at 14:50 with the first of Killorn’s two goals. Winger Michael Biega outworked Union blueliner Nolan Julseth-White on the boards and dished the puck to Killorn in the low slot. Kilhorn solved Milan with a one-timer, giving the Crimson a 3-0 advantage.
“I just chipped the puck in deep,” Killorn said. “Mike Biega passed it out to me in the front of the net. Because there was no one on me, I had a second or two to take a shot and I got lucky.”
Union looked lethargic for the majority of the second period, particularly on special teams. The Dutchmen squandered a man-advantage at 8:02, posting only a single shot on goal during the entire power play Harvard, by contrast, tallied three short-handed shots on Milan on the kill.
“Our penalty kill did a great job,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “We blocked a lot of shots. And [our] goalie is always our best penalty killer. [Harvard goaltender Kyle] Richter was certainly there for us when the opportunities presented themselves.”
Union showed signs of life late in the second frame on a power play, but was not able to convert. With just a minute to play, Dutchmen winger Mario Valery-Trabucco launched a shot from the right circle, but Richter made a quick kick save to keep Union off the board.
Killorn potted the eventual game-winner at 10:35 in the third period, but flashes of Union’s late-game magic sprang to mind in the final minutes of the third period when the Dutchman posted three unanswered goals in the last six minutes of play.
Valery-Trabucco lit the lamp first for Union on a power play, netting a shot from the low left circle at 14:27 off a pass from winger Adam Presizniuk.
Dutchmen defender Mike Schreiber singlehandedly pulled Union within striking distance as the clock ran out, netting two goals during a six-on-five advantage. After Milan was pulled, Schreiber solved Richter in traffic at 19:29 and 19:56, making it 4-3 Crimson.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of desperation to get pucks on the net against them until it was too late,” Leaman said.
With the win, Harvard remains in eighth place in the ECAC and is one point closer to fourth place in the league standings. Union, by contrast, surrendered its first-place tie and now shares second place with Cornell.