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Four Unanswered Goals Lift Union Past Men’s Hockey, 4-2

Ryan McGregor netted his first collegiate goal Saturday against Union (Gil Talbot).

Highlights: Harvard Falls to Union, 4-2

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. –
After storming out to a 2-0 lead after one period, the Harvard men's hockey team saw Union net four unanswered goals as the Dutchmen handed the Crimson its first loss of the season, 4-2, Saturday at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. The loss drops Harvard (2-1-1, 1-1-1 ECAC) from the ranks of the unbeaten, while Union (3-2-2, 2-0-0 ECAC) remains perfect in conference action.

Harvard's speed was once again on display from the opening faceoff, but Union showed it could match it better than any other team Harvard has faced this season. The physicality showed up early when the teams skated four on four thanks to matching minors just past the four-minute mark. After both players returned, Harvard seized an opportunity off a good clearing play to grab a 1-0 lead. David Valek chipped the puck out of the Harvard zone to Luke Esposito, and the rookie sped into the Union end with Greg Gozzo by his side. Esposito stopped hard and flung the puck to the middle where Gozzo charged hard and worked the puck past Union goalie Colin Stevens for a 1-0 lead at 6:37. Both Valek and Esposito picked up their first assists of the season on the play.

With less than two minutes to play in the period, the Crimson struck again, this time off a heady play from an upperclassman. Junior Ryan McGregor won a faceoff on the faceoff dot to Stevens' left, controlled the puck himself and blasted a shot past the glove of Stevens at 18:18, giving the hosts a 2-0 lead after one. The tally marked McGregor's first collegiate goal.

Union responded mightily in the second, tying the score with a pair of goals within the first four minutes of the stanza. Daniel Ciampini put home a second-chance look just 23 seconds into the frame, and struck against on a short-handed goal at the four-minute mark to level the score at two apiece. Harvard worked hard to match Union's energy and goalie Steve Michalek stodd tall on a number of great chances for the visitors through the middle of the period. The Union power play worked to perfection in the final six minutes of the frame, however, as Daniel Carr's strike with 5:37 showing on the clock put Union up 3-2 heading into the second intermission.

Michalek remained calm through the third period, turning aside 11 shots in the frame, but the Crimson was unable to get much in the way of offensive pressure. A great chance for the Crimson late in the frame fell by the wayside, when Esposito gained control of the puck on a breakaway, but was unable to bury the attempt. An empty-net goal by Matt Hatch with 25 seconds to play sealed the 4-2 final for the Dutchmen.

Michalek finished the evening with 43 saves, a new career-high, while Stevens stopped 20 shots in the victory. Blocked shots once again went to the Crimson, with Harvard holding the significant edge, 15-8.

Harvard stays at home and in conference next weekend when it welcomes St. Lawrence and Clarkson to Bright-Landry Hockey Center Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both game will begin at 7 p.m.