BOSTON — Friday’s contest between Harvard and Union bore little resemblance to the last time the teams tangled in Beantown. Unlike last year’s frigid and blustery Fenway tilt, this battle included eight goals, four goalies, and a true pugilistic edge. The only common thread was the victor: The Dutchmen triumphed by a 2-0 margin outdoors, and now, 6-2 within.
Five different players found the twine for Union (6-1-1, 3-0-0 ECAC), led by junior winger Matt Hatch’s two strikes and sophomore Daniel Ciampini’s goal and two assists. Junior Troy Grosenick stopped nine of 10 shots before injury ended his night prematurely; sophomore Colin Stevens cleaned up with 38 minutes and 14 saves to his credit. The win extends the Dutchmen’s unbeaten streak to seven games.
“To be honest with you, we haven’t been playing our best hockey; not even close,” said Union coach Rick Bennett. “We’re happy with the win. I’m more concerned about keeping our guys healthy.
“It’s been nice to get that depth with Hatchy and Daniel; we need that right now, because some of our other guys are kinda struggling a little bit.”
Freshman Jimmy Vesey and sophomore Patrick McNally scored for Harvard (2-2-0, 1-2-0 ECAC), which lost its second straight game at home. Junior Raphael Girard made 25 saves, but surrendered five goals; rookie Peter Traber saw his first Division I action in mop-up duty and allowed one goal on eight shots.
“I give Union a lot of credit; they played the kind of game that they do,” sighed Harvard coach Ted Donato. “They’re good with the puck, they looked like they had an identity and played to it. They attacked us.”
The Dutchmen drew blood early, as sophomore Charlie Vasaturo skipped a low, hard drive by Girard 41 seconds into play. The puck beat the goalie clean between the legs for Vasaturo’s first career goal, although crashing winger Daniel Carr made a play for a doorstep tip. Union struck again just 2:19 later when senior blueliner Greg Coburn potted a Ciampini crossing feed into a yawning net.
Harvard was not without its chances. As the period progressed, the Crimson came close to lighting Grosenick’s lamp with a Kyle Criscuolo pipe-ringer with five minutes left, and Tommy O’Regan came inches from his own tally, but couldn’t corral a loose puck in the crease.
The hosts got on the board quickly in period two, as Vesey made amends for an ill-advised first-period penalty with a pinpoint wrister at 1:32. Union’s troubles mounted significantly moments later, as O’Regan was tripped into Grosenick, driving the goalie from the game with what Bennett described as an ankle injury. The standout goalkeeper missed a number of games last season with a left ankle injury, but he appeared to be favoring his right leg after tonight’s collision.
“We’ll evaluate it tomorrow,” Bennett said of Grosenick’s status. “I think it was his ankle again, so we’ll see where that stands and move on from there. We’re not really going to know until Monday.”
Stevens got a welcoming gift in his fifth minute of play when a Coburn bullet banged off Hatch’s knee. The carom beat Girard to the far post, reestablishing Union’s two-goal cushion. Union earned the best bids in the period, though its 23-16 lead in shots by the buzzer was due as much to Harvard’s inability to beat Dutch blocks as it was to Union’s dynamic offense. Ciampini drove the point home with 3:10 on the clock, ripping a screaming slap shot over Girard’s glove for the 4-1 lead.
“I turned around and saw Kyle Bodie with the puck and I just jumped to the open spot,” Ciampini described. “I did have Tim Boyle back door and I looked him off — I got a little crap for that — but I looked up and saw the goalie cheating to his blocker, and I just hammered it as hard as I could.”
The visitors poured it on in the final 10 minutes, as senior Wayne Simpson tucked the puck under a prostrate Girard with 9:28 to go, then Hatch beat replacement Traber 1:08 later to stretch the lead to 6-1. Harvard’s response was to get chippy, slowing the game to a bitter crawl to the final horn. McNally changed the score with 1:19 to play, but the result remained essentially the same as Union celebrated another league victory.
After winning its first two games of the season, on Saturday Harvard fights to climb above .500. Union puts its unbeaten streak on the line at turbo-charged Dartmouth, the last undefeated team in D-I (4-0-1).