The Takeaway: Harvard Holds Brown Off, Wins 3-2

Posted by: Joe Meloni

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard opened its ECAC schedule with a 3-2 win over Brown Friday night at the Bright Hockey Center. After falling behind, 1-0, at 3 minutes, 24 seconds of the second period, the Crimson erupted for three goals in a span of 5:06. With 1:46 left in the second period, Matt Lorito halved the Harvard advantage, but a scoreless third period gave the Crimson a win.

Brown goaltender Marco De Filippo made 39 saves in the loss. For the first two periods, De Filippo totaled 27 saves, but not many were particularly dangerous scoring chances. In the third period, however, he made six saves on grade-A looks, and 12 overall to keep Brown with one. Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard matched him, though, with 12 of his own to seal the win for the Crimson.

What I Saw

  • Harvard missed far too many opportunities in the first period, making the game closer than it should’ve been. Early-season rust aside, the puck movement the Crimson displayed simply deserved better finishing. Against Bentley last Saturday, the Crimson’s goals came, mostly, on some serious displays of skill. Its puck movement improvement significantly on Friday, and the Bears seemed happy to give Harvard as much space as it wanted. After Brown broke through in the second, the Crimson clicked offensively. Still, this game should never have finished, 3-2. Brown’s De Filippo played fairly well in goal, but missed Harvard chances made him look better than he really was. Harvard will take the two points to kick off ECAC play, but it needs to finish those chances against the ECAC’s elite.
  • Last week, Bentley tested Girard with a series of shots directed, more or less, at his head. Girard can drop into his butterfly a bit early, but he makes up for it with the athleticism that lets him recover. Brown followed the same general gameplan on Friday, sending high shots toward Girard throughout the game. The Bears’ second goal came from Matt Lorito at 18 minutes, 14 seconds of the second period. Lorito drove the net and tucked a perfectly place shot under the crossbar. Girard, as he does, dropped a bit early, but Lorito’s shot had to be perfect. For the most part, Girard handled the Bears attempts to beat him high. The junior has played well in his first two starts of the year, picking up a pair of wins and stopping 58 of 60 shots.
  • Dennis Robertson, a junior defenseman and Brown’s captain, played at least 30 minutes on Friday. Brown freshman Nate Widman suffered a knee injury early in the game. Whittet suggested the rookie like tore both his ACL and MCL. The loss forced Robertson to play extended minutes on the left side, and the extended ice time hardly affected his game. He finished the night a plus-1 with a pair of assists on top of usually strong play in his own end. With Widman likely out for the season, Robertson and the remaining Brown defenseman have some ground to make up. Despite Friday’s loss, their performance is a strong indication that they can overcome this setback.

What I Thought

  • DeFilippo’s job was far too easy early in the game, but the junior did his job to keep the Crimson from turing Friday into a blowout. He stopped 13 Harvard shots in the first period and 14 more in the second. The three goals he allowed in the second came within span of 5:06. As difficult as the stretch was for Brown, things would have been far worse if Di Filippo struggled. He had very little chance on any of Harvard’s three goals, as the Crimson beat him with two beautiful plays and a shot through a four-person screen. Whittet said after the game that De Filippo can be the guy for the Bears this season, and he’ll have to be. Entering the game, he boasted a .930 save percentage and a 2.02 goals-against average. Through two games, these numbers are hardly indicitive of a breakthrough. Still, he was the lone reason Brown was in Friday’s game against a deep, talented Harvard team.
  • Colin Blackwell is a name every college hockey fan needs to know. The Crimson’s struggles, paired with the emergence of new ECAC powers and the success of the three other Division I Boston programs, have left them without much fanfare in recent years. However, this year’s Crimson team is its most talented in some time. Blackwell, a sophomore center, displayed his own gifts midway through the second period. With Brown leading, 1-0, and on the power play, Blackwell picked up a loose puck at his own blue line and raced up ice. He faked wide at the face-off circle, disrupting the balance of the Brown player in front of him, before cutting back to the slot. His wrist shot beat Di Filippo far side. The shorthanded goal shifted momentum back to the Crimson, and goals from Kyle Crisculo and Brendan Rempel followed shortly after to stake the Crimson to a 3-1 lead.
  • Harvard’s blue line is among the most talented in the nation. Danny Biega and Patrick McNally are all-American candidates, Max Everson is a Toronto Maple Leads’ draft pick and the remaining Crimson blue liners go relatively unnoticed by many without an eye to the ECAC. However, Rempel served as a steady complement to the gifted McNally, and the pair looks like a formidable second partnership for the Crimson. After a knee injury cost him about 80 percent of his junior season, Rempel entered his final year with the Crimson with five points — all assists — in 52 career games. At 16:37 of the second period, Rempel, stationed at the right blue line, took a pass from Tommy O’Regan and fired a low, hard show on De Filippo. The puck found its way through four players and De Filippo’s legs for Rempel’s first career goal, which proved to be the game-winner for Harvard.

What They Said

“The 1-0 lead turns into a 3-1 deficit within three minutes. That’s just unacceptable. That’s ineptness on the mental part on the mental side. It’s not understanding how to win and how to overcome mistakes. We’ll get from it, and I give our guys credit. We got that second goal, which gave us life going into the third period. I thought we had a pretty good third period. (Harvard) is a hell of a good hockey team. … As I’ve gotten back to Brown, what I’ve told people is that a loss is not acceptable. It’s not where we want to go. We want to win every game we play. I don’t care who we’re playing or where we’re playing … It doesn’t matter to me. Losing a one-goal game to a very good Harvard team is not a moral victory. I want our guys to be able to refocus and respond (Saturday) night. We’re not going to (Dartmouth) to mail it in and get a loss, that’s for sure. We want to win championships. We have to get points in this league.” – Brown coach Brendan Whittet

Brown played pretty well on Friday, and a rough stretch against a good team cost it two points. However, Whittet isn’t impressed. Even with the loss of Widman early on, the encouraging play of De Filippo and any of the other positives he can draw from the game, he wants wins. To hear a coach in Whittet’s position dismissing moral victories and talking about championships is a positive sign for the program. His players know anything other than winning won’t cut it.

What They Didn’t Say

Harvard coach Ted Donato wasn’t asked about the play of Jimmy Vesey specifically, but the freshman has stepped right into college hockey and contributed. In two games, he’s picked up two goals and two assists and dominated his share of shifts. Last Saturday against Bentley, he scored twice, and Friday night he picked up an assist after a beautiful pass to fellow-freshman Kyle Criscuolo.  The left winger Vesey wandered to the right to pick up a loose puck and made a perfect pass onto the stick of Criscuolo, who beat De Filippo after a nifty backhand, forehand moved. While Criscuolo deserves some praise for the goal, Vesey thread quite the pass to his classmate to make such a move possible. Seeing Criscuolo had to accept it on his backhand, Vesey put just enough touch on the puck to let Criscuolo accept it in stride. In his first two college hockey games, Vesey has proven to be one of the Crimson’s most dynamic players, and he’ll have to continue improving as Harvard’s schedule only gets harder from here on out.

What Else You Show Know

  • Harvard is back in action Saturday night, hosting Yale at the Bright Center. Bulldogs lost, 3-1, to Dartmouth Friday night.
  • Brown heads to Hanover, N.H., for its first meeting with Dartmouth Saturday evening.

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