BOSTON — Quinnipiac and Harvard entered Wednesday night’s match with some complementary baggage: The Bobcats had allowed 23 goals in their last five games, while the Crimson had scored two goals or fewer in three straight and five of six.
Something had to give.
When the dust settled in front of an optimistic 1,506 at the Bright Hockey Center, it was the Bobcats who skated away with a 3-1 win and a much-needed boost to their team defense.
Sophomore Jeremy Langlois scored the game-winner and added an assist, while classmate Clay Harvey and rookie John Dunbar also lit the lamp for the road team.
Sophomore Eric Hartzell made 34 stops for Quinnipiac (8-8-1, 4-5-1 ECAC Hockey), which snapped a four-game losing streak with the result.
“It’s obviously a big win for us,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “We need it after losing all those in a row. I thought the guys played well, and I thought it was a good road win. We kept it real simple. It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to win.”
Junior Eric Kroshus scored the lone goal for Harvard (2-8-0, 2-7-0), which dropped its seventh straight game and failed to pass the two-goal mark for the eighth time in 10 games this season. Senior Kyle Richter stopped 17 of 20 in yet another hard-luck loss.
“It’s very frustrating,” Crimson coach Ted Donato said. “I thought our guys worked hard, but I don’t believe that that’s the best we can play. We can play a lot better. I think we saw flashes, but we don’t look like we have the energy or cohesion to really bring out some of the talent that’s in the locker room. I think the break comes at a good time.”
Harvey broke the opening deadlock nine minutes in with a 20-foot laser. Bobcats freshman Connor Jones took a beating just inside the Harvard blue line, but he sacrificed his body to get the puck to twin Kellen Jones on the right wing. The latter Jones swung a prompt cross-ice pass to Harvey, who saw just enough net to wire a wrist shot far-side, banking off Richter’s left post for the 1-0 lead.
Quinnipiac held the edge at the first horn, also taking a 10-8 lead in shots and a 12-9 advantage on the draws. Each side had a power-play opportunity, but neither converted.
In a similar manner to Connor Jones’ personal sacrifice, Harvard’s Alex Killorn also paid the price for a valuable assist in the game’s 26th minute. The senior center got hammered behind Hartzell’s net, but managed to pop the puck out to Kroshus on the goalie’s glove-side doorstep. The winger snapped a shot 10 inches off the ice, just clipping the edge of Hartzell’s butterflied pad and lofting into the tether.
Quinnipiac left winger Dunbar renewed the Bobcats’ lead only three minutes later, inadvertently banking a low-angle shot off Crimson defenseman Dan Ford and past Richter’s puzzled glove.
Harvard wrested some measure of control after that, thanks in large part to two power plays, and finished the period with 14 shots on net, doubling QU’s seven. The Crimson were unable to convert on their second and third advantages, while Quinnipiac was blanked in its only power play of the period.
“Hartzell was very good tonight,” Pecknold said. “He’s a big kid, he didn’t try to do too much, and I thought both the defensemen and the forwards played better in front of him.”
“I think their whole thing was — and I don’t know — but I think [Harvard] was just trying to get it on net and get rebounds,” Hartzell said. “That’s what a lot of successful teams do, is get pucks to the net and good things happen. Yeah, there were a lot of little scrums, but I think our team held strong and we did a great job.”
The Bobcats finally buried a power-play goal on their third advantage of the night, as Langlois looped a loose puck over Richter’s shoulder from two yards out to double the visitors’ lead 3:46 into the final frame.
Despite extending the lead in shots on net, Harvard couldn’t cut into Quinnipiac’s advantage where it really mattered. Donato pulled Richter with just over two minutes yet to play, and the Crimson came within inches of making things interesting on multiple occasions, but the final horn sounded with QU’s two-goal triumph intact.
“They blocked a lot of shots, but the ones they didn’t block, he was very solid. He made a couple of great saves,” Donato said of Hartzell.
The Crimson rests its wounded pride until the new year, when it plays Army and host Vermont in the Catamount Cup. The Bobcats still have three more contests left in 2010, the next coming at Providence on Saturday.