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Harvard's Top Line Propels Crimson Past BC

Tuesday night's game was an uphill battle from the start for Boston College with several bodies out of the line-up, but Harvard dominated on its way to a 6-3 win at Kelley Rink.

Jimmy Vesey
Jimmy Vesey
Gil Talbot

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Boston College entered Tuesday night’s game with crosstown foe Harvard in an unfamiliar position - in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

It wasn’t only that though as sophomore starting goaltender Thatcher Demko came down with a high fever on Sunday. And his backup Brian Billett left the team due to personal reasons.

Unforeseen circumstances forced the Eagles to climb a difficult hill. Senior Brad Barone played admirably in his first collegiate start, but his 22 stops weren’t enough in a 6-3 loss to the Crimson at Kelley Rink.

"I thought Brad stepped in and did a nice job for us," BC head coach Jerry York said. "For four years, he’s never really had an opportunity; he’s been behind some pretty good goaltenders. I thought he did a nice job today. That was a very difficult situation to put him in with short notice."

The Crimson dominated the first period, taking a 2-0 lead into the intermission after registering a 10-3 shots on goal advantage, including each of the first eight.

It took Harvard until the 15:02 mark to crack the scoreboard, however, as it took advantage of its first power-play opportunity of the night. Sophomore Alexander Kerfoot posted his second goal in four games, beating Barone high to his glove side on a quick wrist shot from his right-hand faceoff circle.

The lead doubled to 2-0 with 30 seconds left in the opening period as Kyle Criscuolo was the beneficiary of a bad turnover by BC’s Michael Matheson. Harvard’s junior co-captain stripped the puck and drove through the slot uncontested.

"Obviously, we’re very excited," Crimson head coach Ted Donato said after his team broke a nine-game losing streak against the Eagles dating back to 2006. "I thought our kids played hard. We battled through it, and I thought it was a real solid team effort all the way around."

BC sophomore Matthew Gaudreau scored his first goal of the season 4:56 into the second, tipping home classmate Ian McCoshen’s point shot, but the Crimson scored the final two goals of the middle stanza to take a 4-1 advantage.

The first of those came at 14:08 as junior Jimmy Vesey got credit for his third goal in two games with a tipped snapshot through traffic. Sophomore Phil Zielonka banged in a loose puck at Barone’s pads after Criscuolo handed off the primary helper at 18:16.

Kerfoot gave Harvard its biggest lead of the night at 8:31 of the third, putting a rebound off the crossbar in the back of Barone’s net.

"I thought our best players were our best players," Donato said, "and it started with our first line. I thought Kerfoot was flying all night. He was really using his speed and skill, creating plays. I think it’s a good mix. Vesey can finish plays; he’s a scorer but a great passer, and Criscuolo was all over the ice as well."

The Eagles clawed their way back within 5-3, scoring a pair of goals in quick succession just after the midway stage. Senior Destry Straight banged in a rebound at Harvard senior Steve Michalek’s left post at 12:03, before freshman Alex Tuch did the same on the doorstep off junior defenseman Teddy Doherty’s initial shot at 13:46.

"I thought our team responded well in the third period to the deficit," York said. "I thought we had a couple chances to get even closer, especially on the 6-on-5 and weren’t able to capitalize. This team is a good character team; I like coaching this team. We’re going to have to battle through and just keep working hard. We welcome the challenge."

Kerfoot finished off the first hat trick of his career with 28 seconds remaining, finding the back of an open net through a sea of defenders with Barone pulled. The New Jersey Devils prospect set a new career-high with a five-point game, the first time a Harvard player hit that mark since Dave Watters on March 14, 2008.

Criscuolo posted his first multi-point game of the year and dished two assists, while Vesey registered a goal and an assist. Each member of Harvard’s top trio has posted at least a point in each of its first four games.

"We’ve had some good chemistry the last couple games," Vesey said, echoing Donato’s comments. "Last weekend, it started to come together, and tonight everything just went our way. I think we’re a really well-balanced line."

With the win, its first over BC since Nov. 7, 2006, the Crimson remained unbeaten in the early going at 2-0-2. This weekend, they welcome Ivy League archrivals Brown and Yale to Bright-Landry Hockey Center.

BC will look to curb a four-game losing streak, its longest since the end of the 2003-04 season, when it hits the road for a Friday night contest at Michigan State.