BOSTON — After landing on the wrong side of a half-dozen one-goal nailbiters this season—including a pair to Rensselaer and Union last weekend—Harvard returned to Bright Hockey Arena tonight looking for redemption.
And, for the first time in almost three months, the Crimson found it in the form of a 6-2 win over Colgate.
“I thought last weekend we played probably two of our best games of the year against good teams,” Harvard head coach Ted Donato said. “I don’t think we played any better tonight except the puck went in the net for us.”
Harvard’s victory over the beleaguered Red Raiders, who currently occupy sole possession of the ECAC basement, was its first notch in the win column since its downed St. Lawrence on Nov. 12 and its most prolific offense all season. In fact, the Crimson outscored themselves in their previous four games combined.
“Obviously we’re happy to get the win,” Donato said. “I thought Colgate battled hard and I think we were able to make more plays and score some goals. We’ve worked awfully hard over the past few games and haven’t been rewarded.”
Although the Crimson cruised to victory, Colgate put forth a valiant effort in the early going.
The Red Raiders drew first blood, when winger Nick Prockow took the puck deep through the right faceoff circle. When Harvard goaltender Ryan Carroll came out to challenge, Prockow dished to linemate Robbie Bourdon who fired a one-timer on the doorstep at 7:47.
The Red Raiders’ 1-0 lead was short-lived.
Danny Biega combined with brother Michael Biega and winger Conor Morrison just 13 seconds later to knot the score at one apiece. Winger Michael Biega, who notched the Crimson’s first hat trick of the season January 7th against Brown, won a battle on the boards and dropped the puck back to the slot, which grazed Morrison’s stick.
The puck found wood—and the back of the net—when the younger Biega put it over Mihalik’s shoulder stick side at 8:00.
“We were inconsistent in our play,” Red Raiders head coach Don Vaughan said. “We got a lead and couldn’t hold it for longer than twenty seconds. We gave up goals in the last minute of each period. Those are backbreakers, especially when you’re at where we are.”
Harvard took control of the game as the opening frame drew to a close. With just one minute to play, defenseman John Carroll banked the puck off the boards around a Colgate forward. Winger Marshall Everson beat the Red Raider in a dead sprint for the puck in the neutral zone and dropped a pass to linemate Alex Fallstrom at the crease who found the back of the net at 19:00 and his first goal—and point—of the season.
“Unfortunately for Colgate, they looked a little bit like us in games where they worked hard, had great chances and then the puck comes down the other end and goes in the net,” Donato said. “We’re really trying to build some momentum and obviously to get a win is a nice step.”
Capitalizing on Colgate’s inconsistency, Danny Biega sealed Colgate’s fate midway through the second stanza.
Harvard’s power play started slowly, but center Alex Killorn was able to cycle the puck from behind the net to Captain Chris Huxley at the point. Huxley dished the puck to Biega, who took advantage of the screen and ripped the game-winner past Red Raiders netminder Eric Mihalik at 9:47 just before the penalty expired.
“The power play was moving around really well and it connected on four or five passes before it happened,” Biega said. “I had a really good screen in front of the net and I just found the near left side.”
Biega—who doubled his goal production tonight with his first career hat trick and the Crimson’s second of the season—accounted for half of the Crimson’s total offense. The sophomore defenseman also potted Harvard’s final goal of the night, an empty-netter at 19:56.
In fact, the Crimson lit the lamp in the last minute of every period. Aside from Fallstrom’s goal at 19:00 in the first period, and Biega’s tally at 19:56 in the final frame, Center Alex Killorn netted the Crimson’s fourth unanswered goal at 19:21 in the second period. Killorn took a cross-ice pass from linemate Michael Biega, and wristed a shot past Mihalik from the deep slot to make it 4-1.
Colgate opened the third period with some life and sliced Harvard’s lead in half with a shot from center Brian Day that appeared to be just shy of the net. Winger Francois Brisebois got his stuck on the puck and pushed it past Carroll just before taking a tumble on the ice at 1:25.
The Crimson added an insurance goal—its first of two empty-netters—from Morrison at 18:16.
In another bright spot, the Crimson staved off the Red Raiders in three penalty kill opportunities, extending opponents’ scoreless streak on the power play to nineteen.
“I think the guys did a good job defensively on the penalty kill blocking shots,” Donato said. “Carroll made the big saves when we needed him.”
The two points moves Harvard in to a tie for tenth place in the ECAC and gives the Crimson some much-needed momentum before tomorrow’s battle against league nemesis Cornell.