HAMDEN, Conn. — On Friday night, Harvard extended its unbeaten streak to five straight with a 6-3 win over Quinnipiac.
The Crimson battled back twice from two goals down, including a 2-0 deficit just 3:27 into the first period.
The game marked a number of rare occurrences with four goaltenders and a night where Harvard didn’t score a power-play goal.
The Crimson is no stranger to playing from behind this year. Harvard has trailed 28 times this season and has come back 23 times. Not to mention that Harvard has rallied from two goals down six times this season only to comeback and tie or win.
Make it seven.
After a scheduling quirk that left the Bobcats with a 20-day break, QU came out flying in front of its biggest crowd this season.
Bryce Van Brabant got Quinnipiac on the board first 2:01 into the game on a tricky wrister from the left circle. Van Brabant’s shot sneaked under the pads of Harvard starting goaltender Steve Michalek and just over the goal line.
QU went up 2-0 1:26 later on a snipe from Kellen Jones. From just inside the slot, Jones picked his spot and ripped the puck top shelf just inside the right post and cross bar.
“I just don’t think we were ready to compete,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “You’d think with the time that they’ve had off they’d be the sharper team early, and they came out with a lot of energy, and we just didn’t have a lot of poise.”
Harvard cut the Bobcats’ lead in half with 4:38 left in the first period. A shot from Patrick McNally on the left side came loose to the right of Eric Hartzell. As the puck came free, Marshall Everson swooped in and banged home the rebound.
Quinnipiac regained their two goal cushion with just 29 seconds left in the opening frame on a power-play goal from Loren Barron. Matthew Peca made a leaping glove save at the left point to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Peca connected with Barron at the top of the left circle where Barron took the room that the Harvard defense gave him and squeezed a backhander just inside the right post for the 3-1 lead.
At the end of the first, the Crimson opted to replace Michalek with Raphael Girard.
“[Michalek] has played a lot of hockey lately; I think that was his fifth start in ten nights,” Donato said. “[Girard] played very well last time out against Quinnipiac and when your team is lacking in spirit, a goalie change can help.”
Harvard began the comeback at the 14:30 marker of the second period on a hectic mouth front scramble. Hartzell made the initial save on a shot from the left wing, but couldn’t cover the rebound as both teams rushed the net. Shot after shot deflected off defensemen until the puck finally jumped free on the right side where Eric Kroshus wristed the puck past Hartzell.
Just 19 seconds later, Danny Biega’s decision to just throw the puck at the net worked for the best. Biega appeared to go for a line change when he flicked the puck on net from the right point. Hartzell raised his glove, but couldn’t stop the soft wrister as the puck deflected off his glove and in.
“More or less, it was just put the puck on net and let the goalie field it,” Biega said. “I’m not gonna lie; I was pretty surprised.”
Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold keyed in on the third goal as the turning point.
“Ultimately, it was the third goal that was the backbreaker,” said Pecknold. “Hartzell has been great for us all year and what our team needed was to pick him up after that goal. We were a different team after that third goal.”
The Crimson took their first lead of the game 5:42 into the third period on another rebound opportunity. Hartzell made the initial blocker save on the shot from Colin Blackwell, but couldn’t control the puck as it came free on the right side. Luke Greiner breezed into the right circle and buried the rebound.
Harvard added two more in the third period on goals from Alex Fallstrom and an empty-netter from Biega.
The Crimson have the rest of the weekend off as they prepare for Boston University on Monday in the first round of the Beanpot.
“I think it’s been a time coming for us bringing home a Beanpot,” Donato said with a smile.