BOSTON — In the latest edition of college hockey’s oldest rivalry, two unranked Ivies battled like champions in a wild, brutal and explosive contest. In a match that featured a natural hat trick, 15 penalties, three power-play goals and some seriously clustered scoring, it was Brown that took home the win Friday night, 4-3, over Harvard at the Crimson’s Bright Hockey Center.
Freshman Garnet Hathaway, sophomore Chris Zaires, junior Bobby Farnham and senior Harry Zolnierczyk scored for the Bears (5-5-4 overall, 3-3-1 in the ECAC), who rallied from a 3-2 third-period deficit to wrest the win. Rookie Marco DeFilippo stopped 32 for his second collegiate victory.
“I thought it was ugly at times,” said head coach Brendan Whittet. “I thought we competed in stretches, and then didn’t compete, and got away from what makes us successful as a team for stretches of that game. But the fact of the matter is that we won a game where we were down a goal going into the third, and that’s a big two points for us.”
“There’s a number of guys that are feeling some kind of 24-hour flu right now,” said Zolnierczyk after the game. “That was a big character win for us, especially being down one goal in the third, coming back and finding a way to win. That’s big for us right now.”
Senior Michael Biega scored all three goals for the Crimson (3-10-0, 2-9-0), who dropped their ninth decision in 10 games (1-9-0). Junior Alex Killorn and sophomore Danny Biega each had two assists, and senior Ryan Carroll made 31 saves in defeat.
“We took a penalty in the third, and they got two goals off it,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We were probably an inch away from getting the puck out, and it ends up in our net. It’s frustrating, I think the guys worked very hard. We did a lot of things we wanted to do, I’m proud of their effort, I just think it’s frustrating. We’re all frustrated.
“As a coach, I have to be honest with them: I think they played hard, I think we did a lot of good things, we’re doing enough good things to give ourselves a chance to win games, but we’re also shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Each team generated a handful of solid opportunities in the first half of the period, with the real Grade-A chances favoring Harvard. Crimson Killorn had the first good look on a juicy rebound, but he ran himself out of an angle with an open goal to shoot at. Brown’s Matt Wahl had his own frustrating moment a few minutes later on an even more lethal rebound, but Carroll’s big mitt was in just the right spot to make a diving cross-crease snare.
The first period became rather disjointed in the last five minutes, as four non-matching minors — two on each side — in 3:15 of playing time prevented either team from finding its rhythm. The Bears out-shot the Crimson 15-10 in the first 20 minutes, and each team was 0-2 on the power play.
“The power plays on paper were even in the first period,” said Donato. “We took ourselves off of two power plays in the first—we had two power plays that lasted 15 seconds. In a game that was pretty tight, I think that was the difference.”
Opening the second period 4-on-4, Brown nearly busted the draw on a bang-bang play. Looping up from behind the goal line, Zolnierczyk fed Garnet Hathaway on Carroll’s right post, all the way across the crease. Hathaway made the heads-up tip-pass back to classmate Mark Hourihan on the left post, but the 6-foot-2 winger inexplicably shot the puck right back into Carroll’s desperate gut rather than his yawning net.
Brown ended up scoring first anyway, as Hourihan found Zaires alone at the back door for an easy tip-in. Bruno then doubled its pleasure merely 35 seconds later, as Farnham eluded defenders six feet in front of Carroll and deftly whipped home the Bears’ second goal.
Harvard responded promptly only 32 seconds after that as Killorn slid a firm cross-ice feed to Michael Biega 8:28 into the period. Biega then popped in his second only 1:16 later, knotting the game at 2-2 only 2:23 after Brown’s first strike.
The physical play interrupted the Ivy goal bonanza, as the squads became increasingly preoccupied with payback on the ice, rather than on the scoreboard. Two players per side received hitting-after-the-whistle minors in the contest’s 33rd minute in what amounted to the third collegiate equivalent of a line brawl.
“It was a pretty physical game. I thought Harvard actually had the better of the physical play,” said Whittet. “I thought they were kinda bouncing us around a little bit.”
Harvard finally managed to take advantage of the game’s spotty discipline, as Michael Biega earned his hat-trick on a cross-ice feed from Eric Kroshus. Kroshus passed to Biega from the left-wing circle, and the Montreal sniper skated across the grain to dangle the puck past DeFilippo.
“Mike made some great plays. He really worked hard,” praised Donato. “He’s got great skill and can really shoot the puck, and when he moves his feet, he’s a dangerous guy. I think he really gave us a lift in the second period — that whole line out there, with Killorn and Everson, was a concern for them all night. I think that’s a good sign for us.”
After 40 minutes of play, Brown still held the lead in shots 27-21, but it was the Crimson who held the 3-2 lead in goals. It was only the second time all season that Harvard led at the second horn, and the first time since November 12 at St. Lawrence.
Hathaway drew an interference minor at the Harvard blue line while attempting to enter the zone, and he took yet another back-door play to the bank for the extra-attacker equalizer. Zolnierczyk pulled off the same move only 19 seconds later on the power play from Jake Goldberg and Jack Maclellan to put Brown ahead for good.
“It was a play that was a nice keep-in by our D-men,” said Zolnierczyk. “I kinda moved it over to Jack, Jack made a nice pass to Goldy, and I was sitting on the weak side on my own, and he just kinda put it right off my stick and in.”
“Our goal was to control the puck low, and try to create stuff off of low possession, and I thought at times we did that,” remarked Whittet on Brown’s sneaky success.
Action got heavy as Donato pulled Carroll with 1:10 to play, and DeFilippo may have inadvertently saved himself some stress when he lost his stick and blocker trying to track down a puck at his right post. The Crimson couldn’t quite break Brown’s ferocious defense in the game’s waning moments, and Bruno emerged with the puck and the win as the final buzzer sounded.
“My teammates made it a lot easier,” said DeFilippo. “A lot of the shots were from the outside, so they really helped me out.”
“It’s just time to see what Marco can do, and I thought he played pretty well,” assessed Whittet. “He did what a goalie’s supposed to do: He makes the saves he’s supposed to make, and at the end there he stopped a flurry. He allowed us an opportunity to win that game.”
Harvard hosts top-ranked Yale Saturday night, while Brown continues northward to tangle with Dartmouth.