CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Behind three different Crimson skaters' first goals of the season, the Harvard men's hockey team bested Boston University, 7-4, Saturday evening at Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
Two-goal efforts from Sean Malone and Phil Zielonka led Harvard's (5-7-2, 2-6-2 ECAC) offense. Zielonka's score was his first of the season while Victor Newell and David Valek each netted their first goals of the season. Jimmy Vesey found the back of the net for the ninth time this season to round out the Crimson scorers. Raphael Girard earned his fourth win in between the pipes with 20 saves.
Boston University (7-9-2, 2-4-1 Hockey East) received a two-point effort from four different Terriers including Ahit Oksanen and Cason Hohmann who each netted a goal and handed out an assist, respectively. Matt O'Connor turned away 15 saves in the set back while Sean Maguire stopped nine attempts.
Harvard out shot Boston in all but the third period to hold a final advantage in shots on target, 32-24.
Off the opening faceoff Harvard barreled into the Terriers territory. Vesey snuck past a defender and made his way to O'Connor who denied the Crimson's first shot of the day. Boston University wasted no time with the rebound as Garrett Noonan passed ahead to Hohmann in the Crimson's right circle. Hohmann fired a shot past Girard's stick side shoulder to give BU a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the contest.
Harvard found its way on the scoreboard at the 7:39 minute mark. Dan Ford sent a slap shot just inside the blue line to O'Connor. The net minder made a pad save, but Valek was there to pick up the pieces. The senior forward took advantage of O'Connor out of position and chipped the puck in past the goaltender to equalize the game, 1-1, with his first goal of the year.
Five minutes later the Crimson took advantage of the Terriers Noonan in the box for cross-checking. The Crimson bounced the puck back-and-forth between players for the front end of the penalty before Patrick McNally found Alexander Kerfoot at the point from inside the left circle. Kerfoot immediately sent the puck back to the circle to linemen Zielonka. The freshman forward netted his first collegiate goal on O'Connor's stick side to give Harvard its first lead of the game and a 2-1 advantage headed into the first intermission.
After Tyler Moy's attempt went wide left, Vesey swiped the rebound behind the Terriers net. Vesey handled the puck through defenders and passed back to Newell on the blue line. Newell immediately fired a slap shot towards O'Connor who couldn't turn away the freshman defenseman's attempt. Newell's first collegiate goal stretched Harvard's lead to 3-1 with over 18 minutes to skate in the second frame and sent O'Connor to the bench as Maguire took over net minding responsibilities.
Four minutes ticked off the clock before the Terriers began to pepper the Crimson defense and Girard with four consecutive shots that were either blocked or saved, but the same can't be said about BU's fifth straight attempt. As Oksanen took a shot from in front, Dillon Lawrence was in rebounding position, but there was no need as the freshman forward's body deflected the puck over Girard's shoulder and into the net to cut Harvard's lead to a goal, 3-2. Nick Roberto had a hand in the goal.
The Terriers goal didn't slow down the Crimson as Harvard's offensive surge continued two minutes later. Moy passed along the blue line to Newell who was stationed at the point. Newell took two skates forward before letting a slap shot go. The puck skimmed Zielonka and into the net to bring the score to 4-2.
Less than a minute later Harvard struck again, this time off Vesey's stick. The Crimson took advantage of a Terriers turnover in their own zone as Seam Malone picked up the loss puck. Malone drew the defender to the right and flicked the puck to Vesey on the left who sent a wrist shot into the goal's netting to stretch Harvard's lead to 5-2.
Kyle Criscuolo was sent to the penalty box for slashing with 14:51 to play in the third. Following a clear by Harvard, Hohmann kept the puck alive for Boston behind his own net and passed along the boards to sophomore defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. He passed ahead to his classmate Danny O'Regan deked Crimson defenders down the length of the ice. O'Regan put away his attempt from in front to cut Harvard's lead, 5-3, at the 5:37 minute mark.
The Terriers continued to capitalize on Crimson penalties. Roberto sent the puck along the right boards up to Grzelcyk at the blue line who passed across to Oksanen. Oksanen returned the puck to Grzelcyk who dribbled the puck ahead and found Oksanen open outside the right circle. Oksanen netted the give-and-go goal to bring it to a one-goal game with 6:03 to play in regulation.
Off a BU timeout, Malone secured the win for the Crimson at the 18:27 minute mark when he stole a Terriers pass at the Crimson's blue line, brought the puck down the ice and flipped it over Maguire. Vesey had a hand in the goal.
In a last attempt Boston pulled Maguire, but Malone notched the empty netter from inside Harvard's zone to put the game away.
Harvard welcomes No. 5 Quinnipiac to Bright-Landry Hockey Center for a 7 p.m. puck drop Tuesday, Jan. 7.