CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Freshman Ryan Donato scored a goal in each period Saturday night to guide the No. 9/9 Harvard men's hockey team to a 4-1 victory over Union at Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
With the win, Harvard improves to 14-8-3 overall and 10-5-3 in the ECAC, giving it 23 points and third place in the conference standings. Harvard halts a 12-game winless streak to Union with Saturday's triumph. The Crimson had been 0-9-3 against the Dutchmen dating back to Feb. 13, 2010.
First period action was even for the most part, with Union holding a slight 9-8 edge in shots on goal. The Dutchmen also had two man advantage opportunities to Harvard's one, but it was the Crimson that came out of the first 20 minutes with a 1-0 lead. Alexander Kerfoot set Brayden Jaw up at the right point for a hard shot that headed for the traffic in front. On its way towards the goal, Kyle Criscuolo, battling with a Union defenseman, deflected the puck downwards where Ryan Donato re-deflected it for a second time through the Union netminder's five-hole.
The 1-0 Crimson lead held for the majority of the second period, until two power play strikes with under 3:10 in the frame pushed the advantage out to 3-0. The first came at 16:49 in the second when Clay Anderson found Sean Malone sitting inside the cushion of the Union penalty kill unit and the junior wristed his sixth of the season right over Sakellaropoulos' shoulder.
Donato picked up his second of the contest with five seconds remaining in the frame after Matt Wilkins was called for slashing at 19:45. Kerfoot found Donato near the goal line to the left of the Union cage. Donato made an initial attempt on the goal that hit the leg pad of Sakellaropoulos, but he kept with it and his second strike of the puck pushed it over the goal line. The third Crimson goal prompted a goalie change as freshman Jake Kupsky came on in relief for the Dutchmen.
Union got on the board in the first minute of the third period when Matt Wilkins tipped a Nick DeSimone shot inside the post to bring the score to 3-1. Midway through the final stanza, the Dutchmen had a prime opportunity to get another score on the board when Sebastian Gingras hit the post with a backhand attempt as Union's third power play of the night was winding down, but the Crimson was able to clear the zone following the ping of the pipe.
The Dutchmen pulled Kupsky with 68 seconds left in the game setting the stage for Brayden Jaw to clear the puck off the boards and Donato to race down the ice and plant the puck in the back of the goal to complete the hat trick. Donato joins Jimmy Vesey in the three-goal club this season. Vesey, who sat out Saturday's game with an injury and Donato filled in for on the top line, netted a natural hat trick back on Jan. 16 against St. Lawrence.
Harvard will host its final two regular season home games of the season next weekend when Cornell and Colgate come to town. A win Friday over the Big Red would clinch the Ivy League title for the Crimson. That game can be seen on NESNplus and the Ivy League Digital Network.