CAMBRIDGE -- At Tuesday's Beanpot media day, Harvard head coach Ted Donato said his team has an opportunity to turn a corner with its upcoming stretch of games.
Friday night was a good start.
The Crimson scored three goals in the game's first 10 minutes, and held off a late rally from the visiting Princeton Tigers at Bright Arena, winning 3-2.
"We're happy to get the win. Overall, I thought we played a good game," said Donato. "Obviously, I wasn't totally happy with the third period."
The Crimson got off to a good start, pushing the pace and pinning the Tigers deep in their zone early.
Harvard got the game's first goal when Greg Gozzo was able to punch home a loose puck in front. After the sophomore made a nice rush up ice in transition, he was temporarily bumped off the puck before he was able to stash a rebound of a Tyler Moy shot.
"The first two periods, we generated a lot of chances," Donato said. "We hadn't started games all that well—falling behind Cornell and Colgate—so to come out and really have some good possession in their zone and put a lot of shots on net, we found it's a lot easier and proven to ourselves to hold on than to try to come back."
Harvard would continue its strong forecheck, and got another goal only 2:22 after its first tally. Kyle Criscuolo won a puck battle behind the net, and then slid the puck onto Alexander Kerfoot's backhand, before the freshman roofed home the puck over the glove of Colton Phinney.
"We've been harping on having a good start for the past couple of weeks," said Jimmy Vesey. "It seemed like for a while we were going down two, three goals every game.
"It's tough to come back from that kind of deficit."
The Crimson's first period scoring was capped at the 9:40 mark, when Vesey netted his team-leading 11th of the season. Again, Harvard was able to establish good possession in Princeton's end, Vesey camped out at the side of the crease, and redirected a Desmond Bergin shot into the back of the net.
The Vesey's goal-the eventual game-winner-was his fourth game-deciding goal of the season. Harvard is now 4-6 in games Vesey scores, with him netting the game-winner in all of those victories.
"Brian Hart and Sean Malone had kind of a two-on-two," said Vesey. "I looped back up and hit Desmond Bergin. He faked a shot, and hit me backdoor.
"It was a really great pass from Desmond."
While the next two periods were played much more evenly, Princeton was never able to generate consistent, quality scoring chances, and a late push in the third came too late as the Crimson were able to hold off the rally and win 3-2.
The task will be much more difficult when Donato's side travels to TD Garden to open up the Beanpot on Monday against Northeastern. Still, both Donato and Vesey felt Friday's win was a good start in the Crimson finding some momentum.
"I don't think any of us wanted to go into the Beanpot on—I think it would have been a six-game losing streak against Northeastern, who is a top 15, top 10 team in the country," Vesey said. "They're a really good team.
"We needed the win tonight not only for the ECAC, but also the Beanpot."
With Northeastern's potent offense the next challenge for the Crimson, Donato was coy about Monday's gameplan, to a fault.
"I usually don't want to show my hand, but let's just say we're happy with the way [Raphael Girard] played," said the coach, chuckling. "Obviously we're going to need a strong game in net Monday as well."
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