LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - Here are three takeaways from Harvard’s 4-1 victory over Quinnipiac on Friday.
1. Harvard’s top line of Ryan Donato, Alex Kerfoot and Lewis Zerter-Gossage is a scoring threat every time it’s on the ice, but the hot play of Sean Malone and his linemates gives the Crimson legitimate scoring depth. Malone recorded a hat trick and Luke Esposito added a pair of points to help the Crimson win, but they were also the best players on the ice all night for Harvard. Tyler Moy had three shots, Esposito had two and Malone had six. Their performance should give coach Ted Donato and Co. confidence heading forward, knowing that the Kerfoot line can be held off the scoresheet without worry. Not only did Malone have three goals, but he scored them in three different ways. His first one was a shot from the slot, the second came off a rebound near the net and the third was an individual play by the senior to drive the net and put the moves on Andrew Shortridge. Malone has a willingness to play in the dirty areas
2. Penalties were a problem last year for the Crimson against Quinnipiac, particularly Luke Esposito’s major penalty after a hit on Sam Anas. While its penalty kill held up this time, late penalties in the third period were still an issue for Harvard. Tyler Moy took a penalty with 7:46 left in the third period, when the score was 3-1, and Wiley Sherman found himself in the box along with Tanner MacMaster of Quinnipiac with 4:12 left. Only the Moy penalty resulted in a power play, and the Crimson managed to kill it off, but handing late power plays to Union or Cornell in the championship game tomorrow is not something Harvard wants to do, and they might not get away with it again. Granted, Moy was in the box for two minutes, not five like Esposito was last year, but the argument is the same; late penalties almost never pay off.
3. Merrick Madsen has been far from bad this season, posting a 24-5-2 record with a .915 save percentage and a 2.26 goals allowed average, but his performance in the third period, in which he stopped all 15 Quinnipiac shots he faced, shows that every facet of this Harvard team is locked in. The defense allowed 26 shots, but 15 came in the third as the Bobcats were fighting to preserve their playoff lives, and none of those 15 found the back of the net. Credit Madsen, but also defenders like Adam Fox, who made two big blocks in the waning minutes of the game, and forwards like Ryan Donato, who was a force on the penalty kill and helped the Crimson move the puck out of their defensive end quickly. It’s no secret that this is one of the most talented teams in the country, and if they continue to play defense the way they did today, they have a deep playoff run ahead of them in the national tournament.