Third-Period Strikes Not Enough For Men's Hockey in Dramatic 4-3 Loss to No. 3/3 Union

Third-Period Strikes Not Enough For Men's Hockey in Dramatic 4-3 Loss to No. 3/3 Union

Alexander Kerfoot's first-period strike gave Harvard an early lead Friday at Union (Gil Talbot).

An early goal put the Crimson in the driver's seat, but opportunistic strikes from a stingy No. 3/3 Union team proved to be the difference as the Harvard men's hockey team dropped a 4-3 decision to the Dutchmen Friday at Messa Rink. Harvard slips to 5-11-3 on the year and 2-9-3 in conference play while Union (16-4-3, 10-2-0 ECAC) earns its 10th conference victory of the season.

A good chance for the Crimson in the third period when Kyle Criscuolo was dragged down from behind on a breakaway, giving the guests a power play, but Union did well to keep the Crimson from scoring on the advantage. At even strength, however, Harvard was able to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 8:29 to play thanks to some scrappy play down low. Victor Newell put the puck towards the crease for the Crimson and after a backhand from Sean Malone kicked out to the back door, Brian Hart was there to stuff it home.

Union quickly took the wind out of Harvard's sails with a strike of its own just less than a minute later, taking advantage of a two-on-one with Matt Hatch blasting the puck past Steve Michalek's glove side. The Crimson snapped right back just over a minute later when Tyler Moy skated in uncontested past the blue line and wristed a shot that caught Colin Stevens off guard, pushing the score to 4-3. As the game wound down, the Crimson pulled Michalek for the extra skater, and even though Union gained the zone, Patrick McNally took a puck in the chest right in the goalmouth to preserve the one-goal deficit. One final push from the Crimson could not produce a shot and the horn sounded on the dramatic finish, a 4-3 win for Union

The Crimson came out of the gate with good energy and tested Union goalie Colin Stevens with a couple of shots in the opening minutes. A strong forecheck from Harvard's second line saw the puck stay in the Union zone for extended stretches, and eventually paid off for the guests. Desmond Bergin controlled the puck along the blue line near the left boards and slid a pass across to Clay Anderson. The rookie fired a puck towards the cage that was held up temporarily before being bank-handed past Stevens by Alexander Kerfoot for the 1-0 lead just 4:30 into the game.

The first tests for the visitors came just before the midway point of the stanza when a cross-checking penalty put Union on a power play. The Crimson looked poised on the kill, even gaining a few scoring chances of its own, and eliminated the man-up chance for the 16th straight time. The Dutchmen built up their offensive chances and leveled the game soon after with Mike Vecchione flipped home a short-range look with 6:32 to play in the frame. Harvard closed the first with an 8-6 shots advantage and the score tied at 1-1.

Penalties spelled trouble for the Crimson early in the second as minor infractions spaced 25 second apart put the Dutchmen on a five-on-three for more than 90 seconds. The penalty kill unit was a strong as ever, however, smothering passes, covering shooting lanes and getting key clears to kill off both penalties unscathed. Following a TV timeout, the Dutchmen netted their second of the game, with Kevin Sullivan lifting a puck from near the red line that ricocheted off Dan Ford's shoulder and past Steve Michalek at the 13:46 mark.

Harvard had its turn on the power play just before the halfway point and nearly evened the game on a couple of looks. Freshman Tyler Moy took a swing at the puck alone on the backdoor but couldn't bury the shot, and classmate Victor Newell let loose a blast from inside the blue line that beat Stevens but clanged off the crossbar and bounced away. After the kill, the momentum swung back to Union and another goal came from a hotly contested scrum in front of the Harvard net, ending the second frame with a 3-1 score in favor of the home team.

Harvard returns home for its next game when it finishes the season series with Ivy foe Princeton next Saturday in a 7 p.m., contest. The Crimson captured a 5-3 win on the road against the Tigers in the team's first meeting of the season.