Durham, NH – After a scoreless first period that saw UNH dominate territorially but not in quality chances, the teams exploded in an entertaining second period. Harvard got on the board first at three minutes, 36 seconds of the period when Luke Esposito sent a weak backhander towards UNH goalie, Jeff Wyer. The shot trickled through the five-hole and Harvard took the lead. Harvard added to that lead nearly six minutes later, as Kyle Criscuolo cut to the net and tipped it past Wyer on the fly. UNH would quickly tie it up with two quick goals of its own. The first one Dan Correale deked Harvard defender, Desmond Bergin, and beat Harvard goalie Rapheal Girard. Grayson Downing scored to tie the game at two a minute and a half later. But Harvard came back with a goal by Alexander Kerfoot with 1:20 remaining in the period to give the Crimson the 3-2 second intermission lead.
Harvard would go on to outscore UNH 3-1 in the final stanza, on goals by Kyle Criscuolo, Tommy O’Regan and Patrick McNally. Kyle Criscuolo finished with two goals and an assist, while Patrick McNally finished with a goal and two assists. Harvard cruised to the 6-3 win against UNH. With the win Harvard improved to 4-5-1 overall and with the loss UNH fell to 7-7-1 on the season.
What I Saw
- Harvard came out and played a fantastic road game for much of the contest. It bent but didn’t break against the Wildcats for much of the first 40 minutes. Credit Harvard but it did everything it had to do to kill the momentum and UNH’s home advantage. The crowd for much of the night was in all senses really quiet.
- UNH came out and looked like a team that had finished a tough series just two night’s prior. UNH has played a whopping ten games in the first week’s of November, which is many more than a normal College Hockey team plays in a month. It has two more games this weekend at Colorado College. The Wildcats just looked like a tired bunch for much of this one.
What I Thought
- Harvard looked like a team that made good use of the weekend off. For the most part, it was able to keep UNH to the outside and away from the high quality scoring area. Harvard’s performance on the big sheet could bode well for it going forward, as few teams handle Lake Whitt as well as it did on this night. It was able to shut UNH down on its on big sheet, despite allowing a lot of shots. Of course for ECAC fans that don’t know the Whittemore Center Arena has an Olympic Size sheet just like what the teams will see in Lake Placid for the ECAC Championship.
- Although UNH played OK defense on the night, its goaltending let it down in the second period. Harvard got three goals in the period, and all three Jeff Wyer probably should have had all of them. The first and third Harvard goals stand out in my mind as weak backhanders that should have been stopped. The first one trickled through the five-hole and the third Wyer made the original save only to watch the puck escape over his shoulder and into the net. The Wildcats should have led the game after two, instead it trailed the Crimson 3-2. The fourth Harvard goal went off of Wyer’s skate and into the net. It was hardly his night. But for UNH it was a total team effort that doomed it.
- Harvard was very opportunistic on this night as UNH outshot it heavily for much of the game. It seemed like every opportunity it had found the back of the net. On the night, UNH outshot the Crimson 37-22. Of the 22 shots, six of them found the net which bodes well for Harvard going forward. Harvard passed up on a lot of opportunities and in all honesty it didn’t have to take them. Harvard’s skill showed up in droves against UNH and if tonight is any indication it could come out of nowhere in Lake Placid.
What They Said
UNH Coach Dick Umile said,
“I told my guys that it was a huge opportunity to play these non-league games and it was important for us because of the earlier games we played. I was very disappointed, especially after we came back to tie it in the second period. It was an all around bad effort and I was very disappointed in my guys.”
Harvard Coach Ted Donato said,
“I felt we worked hard tonight. I thought in the first period we just didn’t shoot the puck. We had plenty of opportunities but we just held on to the puck. They’re a dangerous team but I felt we passed away a lot of shots early, which I thought we got better as the game went along, getting pucks to the net. Girard was outstanding and made some big saves for us. His poise and composure in the net fed through our bench.”
“UNH has a lot of dangerous guys and I thought we did a pretty good job taking away a lot of time and space in front of our net. At times, we could have held on to the puck a little stronger but in general I felt we did a lot of great things. We needed our goalie to have a big night and that was certainly the case tonight.”
“Our guys were excited to play on this ice. A lot of our guys like to play an up tempo game and use their speed. In general, I think we learned a bit of a lesson against Boston College, that we needed to compete right from the start. This was an exciting win for us and something that I think will galvanize our young group.”
Harvard forward Kyle Criscuolo said,
“It’s something we talked about (the big ice surface) we knew the ice was big. My line specifically has some speed so and we were going try and use our speed because we knew that their defensemen would have some trouble handling us wide. Once we got the puck in their end we tried to keep it there.”
“Our defense played really well tonight. It was kind of an ECAC style of play for us tonight, blocking a lot of shots and just making sure that no one gets to our net without a hack or whack. They played really well against the skilled forwards of UNH.”
Harvard forward Luke Esposito said,
“It was good getting put with guys like Hartsy and Tommy O. We had a lot of excitement coming into the game and I felt we stuck to our gameplan. I felt we moved the puck well and we were patient.”
“I think we can play on any ice surface but tonight was nice to play on a bigger ice surface. Hopefully it opened some guys eyes as to the amount of skill we have and the way we can really skate with anybody out there. we felt pretty strongly in the room about that and hopefully we can build on it.”
What Else You Should Know
UNH travels to Colorado College for a crucial non-conference pair on Friday and Saturday, which could determine the direction that they will go in the second half. UNH should be fine, as it has played a brutal schedule throughout November, to the tune of 12 games. But then again wins need to come and they need to come fast if the Wildcats want to find themselves in the national tournament come the end of the season.
Harvard will play winless Dartmouth on Saturday night in Hanover. The Crimson need to build on this one and bring it into conference play, where it has struggled in recent weeks. If something was ever clear on this night, Harvard has some skill and now it just has to bring it all together towards the end of the season. I know it is much too early to think of it, but if Harvard gets to Lake Placid and the big sheet of ice it could be a sleeper. But then again there is still time to make this regular season successful.
Harvard’s second and third lines combined for five of the six goals and ten points on the night. Harvard’s second line of Greg Gozzo, Alex Kerfoot and Kyle Criscuolo was all over the ice. The same can be said of Tommy O’Regan, Luke Esposito and Brian Hart. It was downright domination by those two lines.