CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Colin Blackwell has missed most of the last two seasons battling injuries, but he made his return to the ice in recent weeks felt Friday night, scoring a pair of goals to lead the No. 19 Harvard men's hockey team past Brown, 6-2.
Jimmy Vesey netted his 23rd and 24th goals of the year, and recorded his sixth three-point game of the season. Kyle Criscuolo added three points of his own, with one goal and two assists, and Luke Esposito recorded three helpers for his first three-point game of the year. Criscuolo took the team lead in assists with 24.
Harvard hit an early speed bump taking the game's first penalty at 0:50, but would successfully kill it off with Brown's Sam Lafferty heading away after interfering with Michalek at 2:37. Brown's defense kept the Crimson off the board through the first minute of the penalty, but Harvard's top line broke through at 3:57 with the game's first tally. Quick passing from Alexander Kerfoot at the point to Vesey on the goal line to the left of Brown goaltender Tim Ernst spread the Bears' defense, allowing Vesey to thread a pass across to Criscuolo who buried the puck in an open net.
Harvard's second goal of the period came at 12:33, just one second after Brown killed off its second penalty. As time on the penalty was winding down, Blackwell circled from behind the net with the puck setting up Luke Esposito for a blast. Ernst came up with the initial stop on that shot, but Blackwell crashed the net, collected the rebound and planted the puck in the back of the net. The goal was Blackwell's first since Jan. 9, 2013 against Boston University.
The first intermission did little to cool the blistering pace of the Harvard offense. At 3:23 of the second period, the newly-minted Ivy League Player of the Year, Vesey, ripped home a one-timer from the left of Ernst off a behind-the-net feed from Brian Hart. Criscuolo picked up the second assist.
The Crimson quickly made it a 4-0 advantage, as Jake Horton notched his fourth of the season just 40 seconds later. Horton, battling in front of the net, received a pass from Malone and hit the puck past Ernst for the goal. That goal chased Ernst from the net and brought on Tyler Steel for the Bears.
Penalties caught up to the Crimson midway through the frame, giving Brown the opening to get on the board. Harvard was able to kill off a 23-second 5-on-3 penalty situation, but the Bears' Matt Lorito scored his 11th of the year on the ensuing 5-on-4, closing the deficit to 4-1.
Blackwell's stellar evening continued in the third period with a laser of a wrister from the right face-off circle that finished its trajectory in the top of the net past Steel. The goal was set up by a Malone steal in the neutral zone and an Esposito set-up pass.
Vesey added his second tally of the game at 14:35 in the final frame, firing a blast past Steel's stick side. Anderson flung a pass to Criscuolo near the Harvard net, and the co-captain found a streaking Vesey down the right side of the ice for Harvard's sixth score.
Brown pulled within four at 16:54, answering the Vesey goal with one of its own. Nick Lappin tapped the puck into the lower right corner from just outside the crease after a shot from Lorito bounced in his direction.
Harvard takes a 1-0 series advantage into tomorrow's matchup with the Bears, slated for 7 p.m. at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. It can be seen live on the GoCrimson.com.