Sophomore defenseman John Marino had a goal and an assist in Harvard's 5-2 win over No. 7 Clarkson. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A balanced effort keyed by a strong start, including first period even strength goals from sophomore forward Ty Pelton-Byce and sophomore defenseman John Marino helped Harvard men's ice hockey (13-10-4, 11-6-3 ECAC Hockey) earn a 5-2 win over No. 7/7 Clarkson (19-8-5, 11-5-4 ECAC Hockey) on Senior Night at Bright-Landry Hockey Center
Senior goaltender Merrick Madsen made 26 saves to earn the win in net. Freshmen Reilly Walsh and Jack Badini added second period power play goals, and classmate Benjamin Solin added an empty-net goal to seal the win, Harvard's third straight.
With the victory the Crimson clinched a first-round bye in the ECAC Hockey playoffs, and will host a quarterfinal series in three weeks.
Pelton-Byce gave Harvard the lead early, as Henry Bowlby's (two assists) backhand centering pass hit traffic right in front of the goal crease, and the sophomore got enough of the puck to chip it over Clarkson starting goaltender Nicholas Latinovich (three saves) at 4:56.
Later on in the period, on a near end-to-end rush, Marino skated down the right wing, wheeled around the net and fired a pass that went off the skate of Clarkson defender and between the pads of Latinovich. Clarkson put Jake Kielly (15 saves) in net after the Marino goal.
Madsen made a great stop on a Kelly Summers one-timer moments later at 15:30 mark to preserve the two goal lead for the Crimson.
On a power play to start the second period, Clarkson cut the lead to 2-1 on Nico Sturm's goal at :47.
But Harvard answered quickly, also on the man advantage. Bowlby found Walsh at the top of the circle, and his wrist shot hit the crossbar and went in at 4:41 to give the Crimson a two-goal lead once again.
Sturm scored his second of the night on the power play at 2:46 of the third period to make it a one-goal game.
But Badini's deflection of a drive by Solin at 13:52 gave the Crimson a two goal lead once again. Solin scored from center ice at 17:58 to give Harvard a well-earned win.
• Sophomore forward Ty Pelton-Byce (goal) has points in five straight games.
• Senior goaltender Merrick Madsen made 26 saves and earned his 54th career win in net – third all-time in Harvard Hockey history
• Harvard finished the night 2-for-3 on the power play and is now 7-for-14 over the past three games on the man advantage.
• Harvard is unbeaten in its last four games against Clarkson (3-0-1).
• The Harvard Hockey class of 2018 has 80 wins in three-plus seasons at Harvard and could surpass the most wins for a senior group since the class of 2006 had 82, and the most in the last 20 years of any senior class.
• Harvard earned its second win against a ranked opponent this season, also earning a win over No. 19 Boston College last Monday in the Beanpot consolation game.
Harvard will travel to Brown and Yale next weekend to complete the ECAC Hockey regular season, beginning the weekend on Friday night in Providence against the Bears. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.