Harvard failed to score in its first four periods of hockey this season.
The Crimson, though, have more than made up for that since, extending their winning streak to three games with a 6-1 defeat of St. Lawrence before 2,350 at Appleton Arena.
“I thought we were opportunistic in our scoring chances,” said Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni, whose team moved into a three-way tie for first place with the win. “Our guys finished well, and we had balanced scoring from all four of our lines. I thought this was our best game of the year.”
Harvard jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the game was even 14 minutes old, and while St. Lawrence cut the lead to 3-1 in the second period, the Crimson were in control throughout.
“They are the best team in the league — maybe overall — but they’re certainly the best team in the league with the puck,” said Saints coach Joe Marsh. “They have very creative forwards. They’re fast. They finish.
“It was a little bit like a feeding frenzy out there,” continued Marsh. “When you get down a couple of goals to a team like that, they loosen up and they get even scarier.”
No Harvard player fit that description better than junior Tim Pettit, whose aggressive, free-wheeling play in the offensive end earned him two goals, two assists and first-star honors.
“I think a lot of that was getting my confidence back,” said Pettit, whose seven points tie him with fellow junior Tyler Kolarik for the team scoring lead. “That was something I really needed early in the year.
“The shots were definitely on tonight.”
Pettit’s first goal came with the Crimson shorthanded at 5:11, after Rob Fried caused a turnover at the blue line and fed him in front.
After Kolarik scored at 9:10, Pettit made it 3-0 when he pounced on a loose puck in the slot and hammered it over the shoulder of St. Lawrence goaltender Kevin Ackley, sending the goalie’s Gatorade bottle into the air.
“I really enjoy taking slapshots,” Pettit said.
The Saints drew to within 3-1 just 1:59 into the second on a power play goal by Ziga Petac, but Harvard answered less than 4 minutes later with Noah Welch’s laser from the point that beat Ackley top-shelf.
Given that St. Lawrence had controlled play early in the second, Mazzoleni underscored how critical Welch’s goal was.
“A two-goal game is by no means put away,” he said. “The big goal was the fourth.”
For a time, it looked like Welch’s big goal would also be the last. The Crimson, though, rounded out the scoring with two 4-on-4 goals late in the third period just 20 seconds apart.
In some senses, the game was not as lopsided as the final score indicated. The Saints actually outshot Harvard, 39-33, and their young, hard-working line of sophomore Josh Anderson, freshman T.J. Treveleyan and freshman John Zeiler gave the Crimson fits throughout the night.
Marsh, though, stressed consistency.
“I thought we did work hard at times,” he said. “We’d get a good flurry, then we’d go turn the puck over in a key situation. We’ve got to be tougher on the puck, and we’ve got to win more battles along the boards.”
Harvard sophomore goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris played arguably his best game of the season, and a strong defensive effort from the Crimson helped his cause.
“They put a lot of pucks on the net, and I thought our defensemen did an excellent job of boxing out and keeping the shots to the outside,” said Grumet-Morris, who finished with 38 saves. “And they didn’t get many second-chance scoring opportunities, which really helped us.”
Ackley finished with 27 saves for St. Lawrence, which hosts Brown on Saturday night.
The Crimson, meanwhile, will travel down Route 11 for a key early-season matchup with Clarkson.