GOTW: Three-goal explosion in second, 43-save performance by Gibson lead Harvard to 4-1 victory over Arizona State in SoCal Clash

 (Tim Brule)
In the first college hockey game to be played in the state of California in 20 years, Harvard bested Arizona State in the opening game of the SoCal Clash (photo: Josh Lavallee/Anaheim Ducks)

IRVINE, Calif. — It’s been 20 years since NCAA hockey has been played in California, and the standing room only crowd at FivePoint Arena in Irvine on Saturday was treated to some entertaining hockey, particularly if you’re a Harvard Crimson fan.

The 17th-ranked Crimson exploded for three goals in less than four minutes in the second, including a pair in 42 seconds, to break open a scoreless hockey game and skate past No. 16 Arizona State 4-1 in the opening game of the SoCal Clash.

The two clubs will face off again in game two of the special series Sunday at 1 p.m. PT.

Harvard goaltender Mitchell Gibson was outstanding, stopping 43 shots to earn his first win since being injured on November 22 against Rensselaer.

“Mitch started off the year tremendously and he was banged up so he didn’t play for a while,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato, who himself played hockey for the Anaheim Ducks in the 1999-2000 season. “Coming off the break, I thought that was a very good effort.”

While Arizona State has been playing every weekend since Thanksgiving, Harvard hadn’t played a game in 20 days. That said both teams played with a fast pace and high intensity throughout.

Neither team scored in the first. But in the middle frame, seconds after a power play expired, Austin Wong opened the scoring at 9:54. Wong, a freshman, was playing in his first career game after starting the year with an injury.

“He hasn’t played a game yet, health-wise, but I thought it was excellent,” said Donato of Wong. “His compete level was great. It was nice to see him light up after he scored. Our whole bench was excited for him.”

That sparked the Crimson offense and 42 seconds later, after bombarding Arizona State goaltender Evan DeBrouwer with shot after shot, Jack Badini, an Anaheim Ducks draft pick, banged home a third rebound. Harvard struck again before the end of the period to seemingly take a comfortable lead into the third.

Arizona State, though, had plenty of fight. Joshua Maniscalco struck just 40 seconds into the third on the power play. And the Sun Devils continued to plaster the Crimson net with shots, 20 total in the final period.

It wasn’t enough, though, as Harvard added a Nick Abruzzese goal to earn the 4-1 win.

Arizona State coach Greg Powers was unhappy with the result, but not his team’s effort.

“We didn’t have much puck luck, [Gibson] played well,” said Powers. “They’re going to get their chances; they’re a good team and we have to be a little bit stronger in front of our net. But I loved how we played in the third. If we put a full game together like that, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Mariucci Classic (Minneapolis, Minn.)

St. Cloud State 7, No. 2 Minnesota State 2
In the upset of the night, Zach Okabe scored four goals and goaltender Jaxon Castor made 16 saves to earn his first career win as St. Cloud State knocked off Minnesota State, 7-2, in the opening game of the Mariucci Classic.

All four of Okabe’s goals came in a span of less than 22 minutes as the Huskies jumped out to a 5-1 lead by the midway point in the game. Okabe’s linemate Jami Krannila assisted on all four tallies.

The loss is the worst for Minnesota State since a 5-0 decision against Alaska in January 2018. The seven goals allowed is the most since a 7-4 loss to Ferris State in November of 2015.

Minnesota 5, Bemidji State 2
Blake McLaughlin’s goal with 2:50 remaining in regulation broke a 2-2 tie and helped propel host Minnesota to a 5-2 victory, advancing the Golden Gophers to the title game of the Mariucci Classic.

Jack LaFontaine stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced to earn the victory.

Minnesota will face St. Cloud State in the final looking to win the tournament for the first time since 2012.

Ledyard Bank Classic (Hanover, N.H.)

Connecticut 2, St. Lawrence 2 (F/OT; Connecticut wins shootout, 9 rounds)
UConn needed an extra attacker goal from Alexander Payusov with three-tenths of a second remaining in regulation to force overtime and Carter Turnbull scored in the ninth round of a shootout to give the Huskies an opening-round victory over St. Lawrence in the Ledyard Bank Classic.

For official standings purposes, the game will be recorded as a tie.

St. Lawrence never trailed in the game,  and scored 6:04 into the game on Alex Gilmour’s second goal of the season. After Wyatt Newpower evened in the score at 10:11 of the second, the Saints retook the lead at 12:49 on Jordan Steinmetz’s third goal of the year.

Dartmouth 5, Colorado College 2
Drew O’Connor scored twice and added an assist as host Dartmouth skated past Colorado College, 5-2, in the tournament’s nightcap. Dartmouth will face Providence Sunday for the tournament championship.

Clay Han struck early at 1:23 of the first to give the Big Green the lead, but it took just 87 seconds for the Tigers to respond on a Grant Cruikshank goal.

Before the end of the first, O’Connor scored his first of the game on the power play. Then a flurry of goals late in the second, two from Dartmouth and one from Colorado College, gave the hosts a 4-2 lead heading to the third.

Neither team mustered any scoring in the third until O’Connor’s second into the empty net with 43.9 second left to seal the victory.

Catamount Cup (Burlington, Vt.)

No. 13 Providence 2, Lake Superior 1 (OT)
Greg Printz’s goal with 20.6 seconds remaining in overtime gave No. 13 Providence a 2-1 victory over Lake Superior in the opening game of the Catamount Cup.

Spencer Young got Providence on the board early, netting his first goal of the season at 13:33 of the first. That’s exactly how the game remained until Max Humitz’s 12th goal of the season evened the score with 13:35 to play.

Both teams mustered scoring chances in overtime before Printz poked home a rebound on a 2-on-1 rush in the extra session.

Vermont 2, Union 0
Stefanos Lekkas posted a 26-save shutout and Ace Cowans goal at 3:41 of the third was all the offense that the host Catamounts would need as they skated to a 2-0 victory over Union in the tournament’s nightcap.

Jacques Bouquot added an empty netter, with an assist from Cowans, to seal the victory late.

In the victory, Lekkas passed Rob Madore to move into second all time in saves in Catamount history.

Because Vermont will not play Providence on Sunday, there is a possibility of a tie for first place in the tournament. If that is the case, a tie breaker will be used to determine the champion.