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UNH Hockey: Wildcats Fall for Second Consecutive Game, Losing 6-3 to Harvard

Harvard's young forwards were able to utilize their speed to find openings in the UNH defense.

Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard made 33 saves on Tuesday night in his team's 6-3 victory over New Hampshire.
Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard made 33 saves on Tuesday night in his team's 6-3 victory over New Hampshire.
Jeff Cox

Durham, NH -- Kyle Criscuolo scored two goals, including the game-winner, to lead Harvard past New Hampshire, 6-3, on Tuesday night at the Whittemore Center in front of 4,661.

UNH surrendered three goals each in the second period and third period to lose its second consecutive game after winning six in a row. "I was very disappointed with how we played, especially after we got it tied up," said a frustrated Dick Umile.

"[UNH] is a talented team. To play here and have a big third period and come away with a victory is very good for our team morale," said Harvard coach Ted Donato.

After a scoreless first period Harvard took the lead early in the second at the 3:36 mark. Luke Esposito received a touch pass from Tommy O'Regan before slithering a backhand five-hole past UNH goaltender Jeff Wyer.

The Crimson extended its lead midway through the second while on the man advantage. UNH was able to clear the zone, but Harvard defenseman Patrick McNally retrieved it in the neutral zone. The Vancouver Canucks prospect raced into the zone down the left side and centered the puck to Kyle Criscuolo who tipped it past Wyer.

New Hampshire would score two goals in a span of 1:29 late in the second period to even the score at two. With 4:01 to play in the second Dan Correale cut the Harvard lead in half with a beautiful move. The sophomore, just added to the top line for this game, toe-dragged the puck right past Harvard defenseman Desmond Bergin before lifting the puck top shelf past Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard.

"[Correale] has been playing well. We liked the way he played last weekend down at Providence. We put him in there because of his speed. He played well tonight," said Umile.

Grayson Downing knotted the score with 2:32 to play in the period when he lifted a shot over Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard's shoulder. The junior picked up the puck off a blocked Kevin Goumas shot.

The momentum UNH had from the two quick tallies to tie the score only lasted about a minute. Harvard regained the lead before the second intermission on a goal by Alexander Kerfoot with 1:20 before the intermission. The New Jersey Devils prospect was given a nice lead pass from Criscuolo that gave him momentum at the blue line. Wyer made the save initially, but the puck slowly trickled over the goal line for the third goal on just 11 shots.

New Hampshire converted on a power play 7:03 into the third period to once again even the score. Dalton Speelman kept whacking away at the puck until it finally was jolted past Girard. Downing and Tyler Kelleher assisted on the tally.

The score would remain tied until the Crimson scored two quick goals to send the home fans to the exits. Criscuolo scored his second goal of the night and seventh of the season at the 13:08 mark. O'Regan and Esposito connected for their line's second score of the night just 41 seconds after the Criscuolo goal.

"We gave up two horrendous goals and it wasn't one particular person. It was just bad effort. It's very disappointing. On the fourth goal they threw it out from behind the net and it went past Jeff. The fifth goal was pathetic coverage on our part," said Umile of the game-winning goal and then the insurance marker.

Harvard's second line of Criscuolo, Kerfoot and Greg Gozzo had three of the team's six goals and accounted for more than a third of the total shots on goal for the Crimson.

"I thought Criscuolo and Kerfoot in particular were immense all night. They used their speed. They looked excited to be on the big sheet of ice," said Donato of his second line that had eight of his team's 21 shots on goal.

"We knew the ice was big. It's something we talked about. My line specifically has some speed so were going to try and use our speed. We knew that their defensemen would have some trouble handling us wide," said Criscuolo whose seven goals are now one more than he had all of last season in his rookie campaign.

Harvard added a shorthanded empty-net goal with 56 seconds to play for the final margin of three.

Harvard might not have had the chance to win the game in the third period if not for the play of its goaltender. "I thought Girard was outstanding. He made some big saves. His poise and composure in the net kind of fed through our bench," said Donato of his senior who made 33 saves on the evening.

UNH (7-7-1) heads to Colorado Springs this weekend for a pair of contests at Colorado College of the NCHC. Harvard improved to 4-5-1 heading into its league game at Ivy League counterpart Dartmouth on Saturday.

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Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.