ECAC: Harvard claims co-championship in ECAC with win over St. Lawrence

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Third-ranked Harvard sprinted into the postseason with a convincing 6-3 victory over No. 20 St. Lawrence at the Bright-Landry Center Saturday night. Using their superior speed, the Crimson were able to quickly overcome the Saints’ thump-and-bump style with three quick goals near the middle of the first period that sealed it for the home team.

St. Lawrence started off with some heavy body checking, controlling the Harvard speed, but soon Harvard got the puck deep and beat St. Lawrence defenders into the offensive zone. Within a 3:30 span, Harvard jumped to a 3-0 lead.

Speed kills, they say, and Harvard has it. Goals came from Beanpot MVP Nathan Krusko, Alexander Kerfoot and Jake Horton, the last two coming just 19 seconds apart.

Of course, with the early lead, much attention then went to the out-of-town scoreboard, where ECAC rivals Union and Cornell were locked in a tight battle in Ithaca,  New York. Union started the night one point ahead of Harvard for first place in the ECAC standings. The regular-season title and Cleary Cup hung on the results of these two season-ending games.

Not until graduating seniors were celebrating with their families on the ice after the game did the team learn that Union and Cornell finished in an overtime tie and the two teams will share the cup. Harvard hasn’t won this trophy, named after their former coach and athletic director, since the 1993-1994 season.

By the end of period one, Harvard was outshooting St. Lawrence 18-4, but there were still two periods remaining, both in Cambridge and Ithaca.

Harvard increased its lead in the second, chasing St. Lawrence goaltender Kyle Hayton from the game, opening a 5-0 lead.

St. Lawrence scored three times in the final period, perhaps with Harvard taking victory for granted, but the Crimson closed the scoring late into an empty net, putting the Crimson in position to earn the co-champions regular-season crown.

“We came firing out of the gate and St. Lawrence couldn’t stop us,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “All four of our lines play a fast game. Our fast start won this game for us, and you have to realize that St. Lawrence is a good team.”

“We are a better team than we showed,” St. Lawrence coach Mark Morris said. “But we had a tough time handling their speed. We have had a lot of injuries this year and a lot of guys are playing more minutes than they should. As a result, we don’t have the depth to play our ‘A’ game on a consistent basis.

“The speed up and down their lineup makes Harvard a very hard team to compete against. They remind me of those real good Harvard teams from back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.”

Both Harvard and St. Lawrence have byes for the opening weekend of postseason tournament play, beginning next week. Morris says the bye week will help his team soothe a few of those injuries. Donato said his team is looking forward to the bye, but he truly looks forward to his team carrying their success for several more weeks.

“This was a great night for us,” Donato said, “but this group is not yet satisfied. Outside of mere talent, this is a solid team, more focused on team goals than individual honors. We have a lot of good seniors who set examples.

“We have plenty of depth, two power-play units that can score, and we are getting good minutes from our fourth line. We are focused on finishing this season real strong.”

ECAC roundup

Rensselaer 3, at Colgate 2
Rensselaer got goals 27 seconds apart midway in the third period and beat Colgate, 3-2, in Hamilton, N.Y. Mike Panowyk and Derek Freeman had scored to put Colgate ahead, 2-1, early in the third, but Jimmy DeVito and Parker Reno scored at 10:47 and 11:14 and Rensselaer held on for the win. RPI goalie Chase Perry stopped 27 shots, including 16 in the final period.

No. 7 Union 3, at No. 9 Cornell 3 (OT)
Seventh-ranked Union battled back from a 2-1 deficit entering the third period, took a one-goal lead of their own as time wound down, but couldn’t hold off a late score by ninth-ranked Cornell as the teams tied 3-3 in Ithaca. The one point in the standings for each team put Union in a tie to claim co-champions with Harvard for the Cleary Cup, the regular season championship in ECAC hockey. Trevor Yates, Matt Buckles and Mitch Vanderlaan scored for Cornell. Mike Vecchione, Spencer Foo and Brett Supinski scored for Union. Both teams will have first-round byes in the ECAC p tournament.

Clarkson 6, at Dartmouth 4
Clarkson fell behind 3-0 after one period of play, but scored three goals of its own in both the second and third periods to beat host Dartmouth, 6-4, in Hanover, New Hampshire. Tony Crema had a goal and assist in Dartmouth’s opening salvo, but Troy Josephs scored twice and James Haas scored once and had three assists as Clarkson turned the tables on the Big Green.

Quinnipiac 4, Brown 1
Quinnipiac broke open a 1-1 game with three second-period goals to defeat Brown 4-1. Nick Jermain opened the scoring at 15:38 of the first for the Bobcats, but Charlie Corcoran tied it 1:20 later. Quinnipiac jumped to a big lead in the second period with goals from Tanner MacMaster, Thomas Adworth and Alex Whelan.

Princeton 4, Yale 1
Princeton scored twice in the first and third periods and ran away from Yale, 4-1, in New Jersey. Eric Robinson had a goal and an assist for Princeton, including a first-period goal when the teams were playing four-on-four.

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