Men’s hockey falls to Harvard, 6-2

Juliana Nikac and Joe Bertolami

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Photo: Emma Robertson

Photo: Emma Robertson

When the ECAC Hockey preseason poll was released in September, there were two teams projected to stand out among the rest: the Harvard Crimson and the Quinnipiac Bobcats. However, that has not been the case so far this season, with both teams sitting below the .500 mark. The two underperforming squads faced off on the first night of December, and it was Harvard (3-5-1 overall, 3-3 in ECAC Hockey) getting the best of Quinnipiac (6-8-1 overall, 3-5 in ECAC Hockey), winning by score of 6-2.

Despite an early goal by sophomore forward Nick Jermain on a great assist by freshman Matthew Forchuk, Quinnipiac’s struggles began right from the get-go, falling behind 3-1 at the end of the first period. The Bobcats struggled controlling the puck for most of the first period, and also committed 24 turnovers.

Harvard opened up their scoring with 13:08 left to play in the first period, on an unassisted tally by senior defenseman Wiley Sherman, who blasted a slap shot from the point to beat Quinnipiac sophomore goaltender Andrew Shortridge. Harvard junior Ryan Donato, a Bruins second-round pick, gave Quinnipiac defensemen fits all night, scoring his first hat trick of the season. He scored his first one in highlight reel fashion, walking around junior defenseman John Furgele and driving the net to bury a goal through the five-hole of Shortridge, giving the Crimson a 2-1. Junior defenseman and captain Chase Priskie spoke on the difficulty Quinnipiac had containing Donato throughout the game.

“He’s a really unique player,” Priskie said. “Great on his feet, great hands, great playmaking and a better shot. When you know he’s out there you can’t give him time and space and we gave him that and he capitalized.”

Lewis Zerter-Gossage closed out the scoring late in the opening period with a snipe from the top of the circle that went over Shortridge’s left shoulder. Zerter-Gossage faked the slap shot, causing senior defenseman Kevin McKernan to drop down to block the shot. He then walked around McKernan and let go a blistering snapshot to give the Crimson a two goal lead heading into the intermission. Head coach Rand Pecknold weighed in on the team’s poor start to the game, despite scoring the early goal.

“The goal was great, but I don’t think we had a good first five minutes,” Pecknold said. ”We had a lot of turnovers in the first five minutes. A lot of hockey is mental preparation and our guys are in great shape, but we did a poor job of preparing for this game tonight.”

The second period did not consist of many grade-A chances for either team, but it was clear that Harvard was controlling the play. Their smooth skating defensemen were able to escape the pressure that the Bobcat forwards were putting on them, leading to clean entries into the offensive zone. Despite not having much offensive zone possession, Quinnipiac was still able to get pucks on net, outshooting the Crimson 28-20 through two periods of play. However, Pecknold does not feel that has any implication of how his team played.

“Shots aren’t everything,” Pecknold said. “We’re taking some shots from 30-40 feet out with no net front traffic and just hitting the logo (goalie’s chest) and causing a whistle. We need to commit more to screening the goalie, blocking shots, and things that are true to our identity.”

Quinnipiac came out hard in the third period and was able to get the game to within one with a goal by senior forward Tanner MacMaster. Freshman forward Odeen Tufto won a battle along the boards and fed Macmaster, who fired a shot low blocker side to beat Harvard junior goaltender Michael Lackey.

Harvard answered with a goal by Donato less than two minutes later, scoring his second of the night, this time on a wraparound. The Bobcats pulled Andrew Shortridge for the extra attacker late in the game, but were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. Donato capped off the hat trick by scoring an empty net goal and senior forward Seb Lloyd added another goal late to seal the 6-2 victory for the Crimson.

Quinnipiac looks to rebound tomorrow night at 7 p.m. where they will take on the Dartmouth Big Green (2-6-0 overall, 2-4-0 in ECAC Hockey) at Frank Perrotti, Jr. Arena.