No. 6/5 Quinnipiac Able to Survive Late Surge In 3-2 Win Over Men’s Hockey

Kyle Criscuolo scored Harvard's third power-play goal in as many games Friday (Kevin Burns).

HAMDEN, Conn. –
The Crimson offense was swarming, and riding the momentum of a third period goal, it looked like it would break through for the equalizer, but just enough defense from the No. 6/5 Quinnipiac Bobcats prevailed, as the Harvard men's hockey team dropped a dramatic 3-2 decision Friday night at TD Bank Sports Center. Harvard (2-4-1, 1-4-1 ECAC) absorbs its fourth loss in a row, while Quinnipiac (10-1-1, 4-0-1 ECAC) remains unbeaten in ECAC action.

Harvard looked the better team through most of the first period, ending the frame with an 11-9 shots advantage, but it was the hosts that proved to be opportunistic. The Crimson defense held the Bobcats without a shot on goal through the first 6:30 of the game, tallying six of its own during that span. The first shot that did reach the cage resulted in the first score of the game, as Brayden Sherbinin fired a shot that beat Raphael Girard stick side at 13:30.

Harvard's penalty kill, which entered the game as one of the best in the nation, was pitted against Quinnipiac's vaunted power play twice in the period, and the visitors stood tall on both occasions, limiting the Bobcats to three shots with a man advantage. The hosts were able to double their lead at even strength, however, when Cory Hibbeler redirected a puck through traffic that slid past Girard at 7:58 for a 2-0 Quinnipiac lead.

A third Quinnipiac power-play elapsed without incident early in the second period, and the Crimson kept cool under some early pressure from the Bobcats. Harvard had a great look with 12:35 showing on the clock when Brian Hart jumped on an errant Quinnipiac pass along the Harvard blueline, gaining a breakaway attempt. The sophomore got a clean shot off, but Michael Garteig was up to the challenge, turning the puck aside.

With 8:24 gone in the period, the penalty bug bit both teams when Kellen Jones, who reacted brashly to what he felt was a shot on goal after the whistle, was given a five-minute major for facemasking and a game misconduct. Luke Esposito picked up a two minute minor on the play, but what resulted was a four-on-four, followed by three uninterrupted minutes of power play for the Crimson. After several unsuccessful attempts to dump and chase, Harvard benefitted from a fortunate bounce as the puck wound up on the stick of Kyle Criscuolo alone in the slot and the sophomore ripped a shot past Garteig with 12:39 gone.

The momentum was firmly on Harvard's side to start the third period, and after a few minutes of sustained pressure from Harvard, Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold called a timeout to give his team a breather. The Bobcat offense did not stay dormant for long, and on one of its first good looks of the period, Quinnipiac extended its lead to 3-1. Jordan Samuels-Thomas was the goal-scorer for Quinnipiac, sinking a slapshot from below the left faceoff circle 4:20 into the stanza.

A penalty once again worked in favor of the Crimson, when Harvard was able to pull Girard and skate six-on-five on a delayed penalty. Dan Ford navigated the puck down low for Harvard and after touches from Luke Esposito and Brian Hart, Jimmy Vesey dumped the puck in from close range, cutting the lead to 3-2 with 8:50 to play.

With less than a minute to play, Harvard once again pulled Girard to gain the extra skater, and nearly pushed the puck past Garteig on a scrum in front of the net,  but after review, the play stood as no goal. Harvard had one final look in the last 26 seconds, but was unable to find the finishing touch, and the game ended in a 3-2 final.

The Crimson is back in action tomorrow night as it opens its Ivy League schedule with a 7 p.m., showdown at Princeton.