Allston, MA – The Brown University Bears and Harvard University Crimson squared off in their 180th meeting on Tuesday night at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center on the banks of the Charles River. The Crimson kept true to form in winning the game 5-2 to improve their overall mark against their Ivy League school to 118-47-14. More importantly, the Crimson added two points to their ECAC standings and improved to 4-1-1 (5-2-1 overall) in conference play. The Bears fell to 1-5-0 in both ECAC action and their overall schedule.
Brown came into the game having just lost two roads games over the weekend. There was a 3-2 overtime loss at Cornell on Friday and a 6-0 loss against Colgate on Saturday. The Crimson has been off since they split with Clarkson and St. Lawrence on November 12 and 13.
Harvard showed little rust as junior forward Nick Abruzzese put the Crimson ahead 1-0 at 2:17 of the first period. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect tucked a rebound past starting goalie Luke Kania at the right post. Ryan Siedem threw a shot on goal from the blue line that Alex Laferriere redirected on the Bears goal. Kania made the initial save but could not keep Abruzzese from notching his second goal of the season.
The Bears had the game’s first power play at 6:30. First-year student Kyle Aucoin picked up a penalty for Hooking. The Bears worked the puck around the Crimson zone a bit, but a solid play by defenseman Ian Moore put the threat to rest. Moore stepped into a pass meant for Brown forward Michael Maloney at the bottom of the right circle. Maloney recovered the puck, but Moore spun a sweep-check to knock the puck loose and cleared it the length of the ice.
The Crimson had the stats in their favor after the first. They were outshooting the Bears 15-3, winning the face-offs 12-4, and outhitting Brown. However, Harvard Head Coach Ted Donato felt the team was still rusty after the week off from competition.
“I thought the first period we had the advantage in shots, but I didn’t think we fully established enough zone time and challenge Brown,” said Donato. “We lost too many puck battles to be able to sustain the offense in the dangerous areas of the ice. I thought we did a little better job in the second period.”
“I thought there were some good signs there across the board,” added Donato. “We’ve been off for a little bit, so we were probably just a little rusty in our execution. I give Brown credit. They came out and played hard. They made some big saves, especially in the third when we had a chance to extend the lead. It’s a nice win. We’re excited to enjoy Thanksgiving.”
The momentum swung in the second period. Laferriere beat defenseman Luke Krys along the goal line and then Kania with a backhander between the legs at 3:17. Abruzzese and John Farinacci assisted on Laferriere’s sixth of the year and first of the game.
Brown forward Thomas Manty gave the Bears life at 5:21 when he snapped a shot from the left face-off dot over Mitchell Gibson‘s shoulder into the top left corner to cut the lead to 2-1. Nathan Plessis assisted Manty’s first NCAA goal.
A Tripping penalty on Harvard forward Austin Wong at 6:54 gave the Bears their second power-play. The Bears were unable to get a shot on goal during the man advantage.
The Crimson capitalized as time was expiring on the penalty. Zakary Karpa carried along the boards into the Bears zone, then cut around Manty at the bottom of the right circle to beat Kania with a backhander tucked at the far post to make it 3-1 Crimson. Matthew Coronato and Moore assisted on Karpa’s first NCAA goal at 8:57.
Manty assessed a Slashing penalty on the goal play giving the Crimson their first power-play of the game.
The Crimson executed perfect tic-tac-toe, high to low, low to middle pass play that Coronato buried past Kania blocker-side in the slot. Sean Farrell sent a pass from the half-wall to Abruzzese on the goal line beside Brown’s goal. Abruzzese fired a past Coronato in between the circles for a one-timer. Harvard was comfortably ahead 4-1 at 10:06 of the second period. The goal was Coronato’s fourth of the year.
Brown started the third period with freshman Mathieu Caron in place of Kania (22 saves).
The Bears had a brief five-on-three early in the period when Baker Shore earned an Interference penalty. Then near the end of that penalty, Siedem was called for Boarding. Gibson and the Crimson limited the scoring opportunities for the Bears.
At 10:54, Laferriere zipped a Farinacci pass past Caron (13 saves) from the slot to make it 5-1 Crimson. Farinacci and Abruzzese assisted Laferriere’s seventh of the year and second of the game.
Brown pulled back a goal at 15:13 when Jake Harris crashed the net and had a Brett Bliss backhander bounce off of him and past Gibson to make it 5-2. Bliss and Manty assisted on Harris’ first goal of his senior year.
“We made a point of emphasis to put pucks behind their defense, hold onto pucks down low,” said Abruzzese of the fast start. “We had a good offensive shift where we were able to cycle the puck and get a couple of chances. The puck just squirted to the side, and I was all alone, so it was one of the easier goals I’ve scored.”
“We’re building connections with our lines every practice,” said Laferriere. “At this point, we just know where each other are at all times, and it’s pretty easy to play with everyone.”
“We did a good job of managing the puck tonight,” added Abruzzese.
The Crimson hosts the University of New Hampshire Wildcats on Friday night; it’s the first visit to Bright-Landry for the Wildcats in over ten years.
The Bears, meanwhile, will travel to Worcester to take on Holy Cross on Friday at 7 pm and then host Providence College in the annual Mayor’s Cup between the two Providence-based schools on Saturday at 2 pm.