No. 16 men’s hockey scores eight points in win over Union | Sports
SCHENECTADY, NY – After the opening game of Friday’s fight against Union, the Harvard men’s hockey team was one point behind. After 20 more minutes, the No. 16 Crimson led by four points.
A second period of six goals is to be thanked for completely turning the tide of the game. Harvard (10-6-4, 8-4-3 CEAC) and its scorching attack routed the Dutch (6-18-3, 4-10-1) with a final score of 8-5 in its only challenge the weekend before Monday’s Beanpot tournament.
“I have a lot of respect for this program,” said Union Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91. “After the first one we needed an answer, and I thought we needed to raise our level of competition if we wanted to be able to keep the pucks and play on offense. It’s good to have scored goals from other lines than the first one.
With a strong response to open the middle stanza, the Crimson regained both the advantage and the momentum after a poor first period. That abrupt turnaround defined Friday’s deal, as Union never smacked of a draw – let alone a win – afterwards.
For Harvard, once the second period goals started, they apparently never stopped. The visitors netted three before halfway through the frame, quickly building up the advantage they had opened minutes before. In the third fold, second blue line Marshall Rifai snatched a pass from his classmate and attacking Jack Drury, dazzling with an accurate snipe for his first collegiate score.
“He’s my roommate, so I listen to him talk about trying to get the first one in a long time,” Rifai’s Drury said, with a smile. “Everyone was really excited. He’s a really good guy in the locker room, an important part of our team in terms of character and identity.
Harvard conceded three more goals in the back half of the frame, including two goals by members of the front row. In total, Drury, sophomore Casey Dornbach and freshman Nick Abruzzese finished with 12 points on Friday night, demonstrating the level of skill that has earned them the status of top scorer per game this season. .
These dynamic skaters made up their team’s three power-play conversions, making Friday another successful night for the Crimson man-up unit, which is pacing the nation at 30.7 percent efficiency.
“While we were able to open up the game and play on the power play, some of our best players put on high level and qualified plays,” said coach Donato.
The first of Abruzzese’s two notches with the additional striker, in which a cross pass resulted in a goal against his Union side, turned out to be the game winner. He followed it up with another goal, this time 5 on 3, before Drury found the dirt to pay for his second.
Harvard didn’t give up after their crushing second period, resulting in a goaltending trade for the Dutch, scoring two more goals in the third. Union also managed to find some string, preserving a semblance of respectability with one bang at the very end of the second and three more in the last stanza.
“There is a little lack of intensity on your side because you feel comfortable with the lead but the last thing you want to do is stay ahead at all times of the game,” Abruzzese said. . “It’s something that we can learn as we move forward: keep the intensity level high and keep playing on our toes, keep attacking the other team regardless of the score in the game. “
A relatively calm first period found a little life at the end of the frame. Three minutes before intermission, Union senior Vas Kolias threw a tip-to-mouth pass, where first-year defenseman Dylan Anhorn redirected it. The puck squeaked between the legs of goaltender Mitchell Gibson, and Anhorn followed his initial luck by hitting it at home.
The Dutch had controlled the game several shifts before Anhorn’s fourth of the year and continued to lead the action until the end of the period. The Crimson’s return abruptly put an end to what initially seemed like a surge of momentum for the home team.
“We arrived after [the first] period, and the coach stressed that we need to bring more guys to the net, ”Drury said. “We’ve talked a lot about the momentum throughout the year and how to manage it…. I think today was a good example of [the importance of] this.”
Friday’s capture of two valuable CEAC points marks the first time Harvard has left Frank L. Messa Rink with a win since January 2010. A team effort made it possible as all four forwards contributed goals.
In the second period, junior forward Henry Bowlby redirected a five-hole point shot. Thirty seconds later, second-year forward RJ Murphy beat Union goalie Darion Hanson (5 GA, .773 SV%) in the top right with a flare in transition. The Crimson’s fifth goal of the stanza came courtesy of second-year center Baker Shore, whose gritty presence in net paid off.
“When we have the four lines, that’s kind of the norm for us,” Drury said. “It can lead to creating a lot of offensive chances.”
In addition to a night of two goals and two assists from Drury and Abruzzo, Dornbach played the role of facilitator with four assistants. On the blue line, rookie Henry Thrun pocketed three assists, and juniors Reilly Walsh and Jack Rathbone threw two apiece.
Rathbone has returned to the roster after a three-game absence with a shoulder injury sustained during St. Lawrence’s triumph in mid-January. The Vancouver Canucks prospect, who ranks among the top five scorers per game among Division I defensemen (1.06), wasted no time getting back on the scoresheet.
Despite taking the win, Gibson (5 GA, .839 SV%) left the door open for senior Cameron Gornet to receive the green light in the upcoming clash between Beanpot and Northeastern. While coach Donato has not commented on the matter, the battle for starting territory remains a standout scenario until Monday night.
That night, a much more formidable foe will watch Harvard at TD Garden – a great opportunity for the Crimson to secure a decisive victory over a ranked opponent.
– Editor Spencer R. Morris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @SMorrisTHC.