Luke Esposito and the Crimson will be the three-seed in the ECAC playoffs (Elan Kawesch).
CANTON, N.Y. – Playing its final regular season game of the year, the No. 12/12 Harvard men's hockey team (16-9-4, 12-6-4 ECAC) skated past St. Lawrence (17-13-3, 11-8-3 ECAC), 4-1, at Appleton Rink Saturday night.
The win secured the No. 3 seed in the ECAC playoffs for the Crimson. Harvard will have next weekend off as it has earned a bye from the first round of the playoffs. It will next be in action beginning March 11 when it hosts a quarterfinal series at Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
Merrick Madsen was exceptional in net for the Crimson, frustrating the St. Lawrence offense with save after save, ending the game with 38. Madsen also made his third penalty shot save of the season, stoning Brian Ward at 9:41 of the third.
Harvard's power play unit converted on half of its opportunities, accounting for two of Harvard's goals Saturday. The first power play goal gave the Crimson a 1-0 lead 4:48 into the contest. Harvard put continued pressure on the St. Lawrence goal during its man advantage, but it wasn't until the last second that it beat goaltender Kyle Hayton. The St. Lawrence netminder was pinned to his left post trying to stop attacks from Luke Esposito and Seb Lloyd when he blocked the puck out to the opposite side where Lewis Zerter-Gossage buried it in the back of the cage with a quick shot.
The Crimson extended its lead with an even strength tally at 7:07 of the second. Jimmy Vesey sped up the right side of the ice and fired an initial attempt off Hayton's leg pad. The senior stuck with it though, regaining control of the puck, wheeling back out to the slot and sniping a shot into the top corner for his 21st of the season. St. Lawrence scored its only goal on the power play at 16:18 when Jacob Pritchard tipped a puck and bounced it over the goal line.
The 2-1 score was as close as St. Lawrence got, as Harvard scored two more in the third. Both of Harvard's goals came with less than four minutes to play, but it had quality chances earlier in the period, including a 5-minute power play after Woody Hudson was issued a major and game misconduct for a hit on Esposito along the boards. Harvard's penalty kill unit came up big when it was called upon to keep the lead intact, killing off a 5-on-3 situation for 1:13 in the third.
Ryan Donato made it a 3-1 contest with a power play blast at 16:00 from the point. The freshman's 11th of the season was assisted by Alexander Kerfoot and Kyle Criscuolo, his second assist of the night. Clay Anderson sealed the victory at 19:11 with his empty netter from the defensive zone. The goal was his second of the year and was assisted by Esposito.
Harvard will now await the results of the first round of the ECAC playoffs next weekend to determine its opponents in the quarterfinals.