Cambridge, Mass. -- The college hockey season opened up earlier this month, but Ivy League teams didn't begin play until this weekend.
Maybe that's why it took Harvard a little longer to find the back of the net when they finally opened play.
After playing Bentley even through the first period, two Crimson goals in a span of 13 seconds in the second period were enough to push Harvard past the visiting Falcons. Harvard went on to win 3-0 in the Crimson's first game of the season.
"It's nice to start off with a win," said Harvard head coach Ted Donato after the game.
It was Bentley's sixth game of the season, and it showed early on as the Falcons seemed to be a crisper team.
"We were sloppy at times, and I didn't think we were very good with the puck," Donato said. "They looked like they were a little more game prepared than we were.
The Crimson finally broke midway through the second period, off a play that spanned the entire ice. After Sean Malone won a faceoff in his own zone, Desmond Bergin hit Malone with an outlet pass. As Harvard transitioned from its own zone up the ice, Malone found Tommy O'Regan, who redirected a centering feed between the legs of Bentley goaltender Branden Komm.
"We re-grouped a little bit after the first, and came out better in the second," Donato said.
Harvard would find the back of the net again before the public address announcer could even broadcast the game's first tally. Bentley won the center ice faceoff, but turned the puck over to Kyle Criscuolo. After taking a slap shot that hit Komm's mask, the puck took a funky carom off the boards behind the net, and back onto Criscuolo's stick, in perfect position to pot a rebound.
"I ended up picking it off and went the other way," Criscuolo said. "It took a funny bounce off the goalies head, and it came right back to me.
"He wasn't looking and I put it in. It was great getting two quick ones there."
The story of the night though was Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard, who was in command from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer. The senior made 43 saves on the night for his third career shutout.
"Raphael Girard was outstanding obviously all night," Donato said.
Girard was stellar early when the game remained scoreless. After Harvard scored in succession in the middle frame, Girard stood tall as Bentley came back hard.
"He looked like he was on, he was seeing the puck, and for us, once we get to two [goals] as a team, we like to keep going, keep generating offense, and keep getting after them," Donato added. "We maybe relied a little bit too much on a goalie having a great night."
With the score still at 2-0, Criscuolo scored the game's final goal late in the third. Freshman Alexander Kerfoot carried the puck through the zone, and made a nice play in between the circles to feed Criscuolo for a tap-in.
The assist was Kerfoot's first collegiate point.
"He's a through-and-through playmaker," said Criscuolo, who skated on a line with the freshman and Jimmy Vesey. "He's always looking to find different guys."
Harvard's next game will open up ECAC play, as the Crimson travel to Rensselaer Tuesday for the first of a home-and-home against the Engineers.
"There's a lot of room for improvement with a lot of the young guys," Donato said. "There's going to be periods when we see some really good things, and then nights when we look young.
"As long as we skate and continue to move the puck, I think we have the chance to be a very good team."