No. 12/12 Men’s Hockey Downs Rensselaer, 5-2, Takes Lead in ECAC Quarterfinal Series

Seb Lloyd scored twice to help Harvard top Rensselaer, 5-2, Friday (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.Sean Malone and Seb Lloyd scored twice and Luke Esposito had three assists as No. 12 Harvard men's hockey (17-9-4) took a 1-0 lead in its ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series against Rensselaer with a 5-2 victory Friday night at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.

The two goal effort was the first of Lloyd's career and third of Malone's. Esposito has a knack for dishing it out in the playoffs, as his three helpers matches his career high he set against Brown in last season's first round series. Merrick Madsen garnered his 16th win in net for Harvard, making 25 stops.

The teams traded opportunities early on, but the lone goal of the opening period was earned by the Crimson in the latter minutes. Rensselaer was able to kill off its first penalty of the game, a hooking minor assessed to Mike Prapavessis at 5:05, but Harvard's first rush after the game was back to full strength saw Sean Malone wrist his eighth goal of the season past Kasdorf's glove. Desmond Bergin and Clay Anderson worked the puck out of the Harvard defensive zone to Esposito, who set Malone up as he crossed the blue line before firing the series' first goal at 17:02.

The even first period gave way to a dominant 20 minutes by the Crimson. Harvard lit the lamp three times in the second period, twice by sophomore Lloyd. The first came at 12:56 when Ryan Donato raced along the boards behind the net and fed a pass to Lloyd posted up in front of Kasdorf for an immediate shot.

Colin Blackwell scored his sixth of the year to break-up the Lloyd scoring, netting Harvard's third goal at 8:08. The Crimson put heavy pressure on the Rensselaer goal with Malone firing an initial attempt that trickled past Kasdorf to the other side of the net where an awaiting Blackwell potted it.

Momentum continued to favor the Crimson as it went on a five-minute power play after Jake Wood was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for kneeing Kyle Criscuolo in the neutral zone at 13:27. The extended man advantage led to Harvard's 30th power play goal of the season, coming again from Lloyd. Alexander Kerfoot set Donato up for a blast from the top of the zone that Lloyd jumped in front of and deflected past Kasdorf to give Harvard a 4-0 lead and led to a goalie change for the visitors as Cam Hackett took over in net. Rensselaer also got on the board during the major penalty, as Milos Bubela chased down a loose puck that had escaped the Harvard zone and scored on the breakaway, sending the game to the second intermission with Harvard ahead, 4-1.

Rensselaer cut further into the Harvard lead at 4:49 of the third period when Phil Hampton cleaned up a rebound off a Mark Miller attempt to make it 4-2. The terrific Harvard offense got back on track less than five minutes later when Malone tallied his second of the night. Blackwell drove into the zone and dropped a pass that Esposito tipped to a streaking Malone, who finished as he crossed Hackett in front of the goal.

Harvard and Rensselaer return to the ice at Bright-Landry for game two  Saturday at 7 p.m. Fans can watch live on American Sports Network and online at ECACHockey.com.