CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The nation's top power play was at it again Friday night, exploding for three goals over a 44-second span in the second period, guiding the No. 4/3 Harvard men's hockey team (10-2-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) to a 5-2 victory over No. 15/15 Quinnipiac (11-9-2, 6-5-1) Friday night at a sold out Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
The game also featured freshman Nathan Krusko recording his first career hat trick on the third, fourth and fifth goals of his young career. Junior goaltender Merrick Madsen posted 34 saves, his highest total this season, to shut down the Bobcats.
The 3,095 fans in attendance were treated to a surge of power play tallies from the Crimson beginning at the 5:48 mark of the second period. With the game tied 1-1, Krusko potted his first of the game on a 5-on-3 advantage when he jammed home a loose puck floating in front of the Quinnipiac net. Sean Malone, who scored Harvard first goal of the night, had the primary assist, with John Marino notching the secondary.
Following the play, Quinnipiac was assessed a bench minor and head coach Rand Pecknold was ejected from the game arguing the goal. That created another 5-on-3 situation for the Crimson in which Alexander Kerfoot found the back of the mesh. Adam Fox, who returned from winning gold at the IIHF World Junior CHampionships just hours before the game, and Tyler Moy set Kerfoot up for the strike. Krusko finished off the trio of tallies for Harvard and made it a 4-1 Crimson lead at 6:32. Krusko was integral throughout the play, digging the puck off the boards, finding Malone out front for an initial shot attempt that deflected off Luke Esposito and back to a crashing Krusko at the left post.
Harvard carried the 4-1 lead until late in the third period before Luke Shiplo scored at 16:55 to get the Bobcats within two, but Krusko sealed the victory, and his hat trick, with an empty netter with 6.1 seconds remaining.
Krusko is the second Harvard skater to put up three goals in a game, joining sophomore Lewis Zerter-Gossage who accomplished the feat against Cornell Nov. 5.
Friday's game was also marred with 16 penalties, eight assessed to each team. Each of Quinnipiac's goals came on the power play, finishing 2-for-8, while Harvard's man-up unit was 3-for-7. Harvard is now 20-for-60 on the season on the power play and its conversion percentage of 33.3 is tops in the nation by 6.6 percent.
Harvard returns to the ice at Bright-Landry Saturday night at 7 p.m. against Ivy foe Princeton. The game can be seen live on ESPN3 and the Ivy League Digital Network.