Highly-touted Harvard rookie Colin Blackwell scored two third-period goals, including the go-ahead goal with 7:58 remaining, as the Crimson overcame an early four-goal deficit to defeat New Hampshire, 7-6, in front of 2,016 at Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center Tuesday night.
Harvard spotted the Wildcats a 4-0 lead in the game’s first 12 minutes, scored four goals in the second to pull within a goal at 5-4, then let Blackwell play the role of hero.
He evened the game poking home the rebound of Ryan Grimshaw’s shot from the point at 6:51. With the Crimson buzzing, Blackwell then got his stick on Danny Fick’s shot from the left point, redirecting it over UNH netminder Matt DiGirolamo’s (23 saves) glove to put Harvard in the lead for the first time.
“When you get those opportunities, you have to bear down,” said Blackwell. “You only get so many chances in the game, so when you get that opportunity, you’ve got to take that opportunity and bury it.”
Harvard’s David Valek scored into the empty net with 1:25 remaining and New Hampshire’s Stevie Moses netted an inconsequential goal with three seconds remaining for the 7-6 final.
The 13-goal combined outburst was one for the stat books. A total of 21 players – 13 for Harvard, eight for UNH – recorded points. Two players for each team – Alex Killorn and Blackwell for Harvard and Kevin Goumas and Grayson Downing for UNH – each recorded two goals. Additionally, five players from each side had multi-point games.
“It was quite a crazy game,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “Every puck that went towards the net had a chance to go in there for a while.
“Being down 4-0 after the first, I just talked about giving ourselves a chance to be able to hold our heads high walking out of here. I’m just really proud of the way the guys persevered.”
The Wildcats dominated the first period from the opening faceoff, scoring four times, including three in the first 8:18, to take a commanding lead.
Downing opened the scoring at 1:23 with his third goal of the season followed by Goumas pushing starting Harvard starting goalie Raphael Girard (four saves) from the game with a goal at 5:20. Downing tallied his second of the game at 8:18 before rookie blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk floated a wrist shot from the left point at 11:56 that backup netminder Steve Michalek (24 saves) fanned on to open UNH’s four-goal advantage.
In the second, though, Harvard came alive. The Crimson cut into the lead with two early goals from Alex Killorn on the power play at 6:50 and Eric Kroshus at 8:21.
“We came into the first intermission and a couple of guys had their heads down,” said Blackwell. “The older guys brought us together as a team and said it can’t get any worse than this. Once we got that first one, the floodgates started opening.”
New Hampshire took back momentum, scoring shorthanded on a Goumas bomb off the right post at 14:14. And at 17:33, it appeared Moses buried a back breaker pushing the puck through Michalek’s pads on the breakaway. The referees, though, viewed the replay and ruled that the net had come off its moorings prior to the puck entering the net, negating the goal.
Harvard used that play to turn the momentum its way and in the final two minutes scored twice to cut the lead to a single goal heading to the third. Alex Fallstrom one-timed a Killorn pass at 18:00 and then returned the favor, setting up a Killorn redirect at 19:55 to close the deficit to 5-4.
That set up the wild third period and allowed the Crimson (3-3-1, 2-3-1 ECAC) to win its second game against the Wildcats in its last eight tries.
Harvard’s jubilation is countered with disappointment for UNH (5-6-2, 4-4-1 Hockey East), which obviously let what should have been an easy win slip away.
“We absolutely gave [the game] away,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile. “We get a 4-0 lead and start going through the motions. We thought it would be an easy night. It’s pathetic.”