SCHENECTADY -- The Harvard men's hockey team decided not to wait until Sunday for a touchdown.
The Crimson went deep for six in the second period against Union at Messa Rink on Friday night, scoring six unanswered goals on the way to a 6-1 lead and an 8-5 victory.
The Dutchmen (4-10-1 ECAC Hockey, 6-18-3 overall) played a strong first period and actually led 1-0, but Harvard (8-4-3, 10-6-4) dismantled Union in the second, sending junior goalie Darion Hanson to the bench trailing 5-1 with 4:04 left in favor of freshman Josh Graziano.
The No. 1 power play in Division I welcomed Graziano to his first ice time at home by scoring with the man advantage to make it 6-1 at 17:23 of the second, 1:27 after Graziano had come into the game.
Then in the third, Graziano faced two 5-on-3 advantages for the Crimson, and they cashed in on both to go up 8-3, after the Dutchmen had shown signs of life with Chaz Smedsrud's goal to get within 6-3. Union head coach Rick Bennett pulled Graziano for an extra skater with 4:05 left in the game, and Zach Emelifeonwu scored twice to produce the final score.
"We got away from our identity, and with a team like that, you give them an inch, they're going to take a mile," Union senior Vas Kolias said. "A mile was in the form of six goals directly in the back of our net. They're going to make you pay for it, and they're going to make you pay for it early and often."
"I thought we had a really good first period; it was one of our better of the year," Bennett said. "I was more impressed with our first period and some of our response in the third, and that's what we've got to build on."
"We knew Union would keep coming, and they did," Harvard head coach Ted Donato said. "If you look at the standings and how tight it is, I know from coaching here a long time that it's difficult to get points out of this building, and I wasn't comfortable until the final buzzer."
Jack Drury and Nick Abruzzese each scored two goals and assisted on two, and Casey Dornbach had four assists for the Crimson.
The Dutchmen took a 1-0 lead with 2:59 left in the first period on freshman defenseman Dylan Anhorn's fourth goal of the season.
Kolias, moved to the forward line from defense for this game, skated through the right circle, then wheeled back out toward the blueline and found Anhorn camped on the left post for a one-timer that goalie Mitchell Gibson saved with a sharp shift from his left to right.
The puck was free, though, and Anhorn was able to bang home the rebound.
It didn't take long for the Crimson to take the lead in the second period, and to expand it. And expand it.
They scored two goals in a span of 31 seconds in the opening minutes, as Henry Bowlby tipped one past Hanson at 1:46, and R.J. Murphy's wrist shot from the left circle got through at 2:17 for a 2-1 Harvard lead.
Nick Azar nearly made it 3-1 two minutes later, but his slap shot from the left point rang off the right post, and Hanson was able to cover the rebound while sprawled on his back.
The Crimson did go up 3-1 at 7:34 on sophomore defenseman Marshall Rifai's first career goal, and Drury, Baker Shore and Abruzzese polished off the onslaught with three goals in a span of 3:42.
"We've talked a lot about momentum throughout the year and how to manage it and be a little more in control of it," Drury said. "Today was a good example to that. They had all the momentum in the first, and a couple guys made some big plays to start the second to grab that back for us."
"It was a little deflating, but we still had a whole third period, so we tried to stay positive and give our best effort in the third period," Union senior Anthony Rinaldi said.
Bennett took a long pause when asked to assess how his goalies played.
"I don't want to single out our goaltenders," he said. "Not at all. Because I thought they had some fight in them. To me, it was an effort out there of six. It was far from our goaltenders."
"When we lose, he always kicks himself," Kolias said of Hanson. "He hates to lose more than he likes to win, just like any great competitor. But this one's not on him. It's a team game. We can talk about Darion letting in a couple goals, or we can talk about Union Dutchmen having breakdowns and leaving him with shots that are a little bit more than difficult to stop."
Union lost freshman forward Liam Robertson with seven minutes left in the first period.
He appeared to get his leg twisted in a crowded goalmouth scramble in Union's offensive end and was helped off without putting any weight on his right leg. He did not return to the bench.
Harvard 0 6 2 -- 8
Union 1 1 3 -- 5
First period -- 1, Anhorn 4 (Kolias, Harrison), 17:01.
Second period -- 2, Harvard, Bowlby 6 (Thrun, Walsh), 1:46. 3, Harvard, Murphy 5 (Farinacci, Thrun), 2:17. 4, Harvard, Rifai 1 (Drury, Dornbach), 7:34. 5, Harvard, Drury 12 (Dornbach, Abruzzese), 13:41. 6, Harvard, Shore 2 (Walsh, Thrun), 15:56. 7, Harvard, Abruzzese 9 (Rathbone, Drury), 17:23 (pp). 8, Union, Rinaldi 5 (Seger), 19:57 (pp). Penalties -- Abruzzese, H (holding), 8:07; Rinaldi, U (hooking), 16:36; Thrun, H (interference), 19:45.
Third period -- 9, Union, Smedsrud 4 (Rinaldi, Allen), 6:44. 10, Harvard, Abruzzese 10 (Dornbach, Rathbone), 9:11 (pp). 11, Harvard, Drury 13 (Abruzzese, Dornbach), 10:40. 12, Union, Emelifeonwu 4 (Estes, Seger), 13:47. 13, Union, Emelifeonwu 5 (Kosack, Kolias), 19:17. Penalties -- Anhorn, U (holding), 4:29; Kosack, U (tripping), 7:45; Union bench (too many players on ice, served by Allen), 8:53; Kolias, U (tripping), 9:31; Foskey, H (hooking), 16:54.
Shots on goal -- Harvard 7-18-15 -- 40. Union 12-8-11 -- 31.
Power-play opportunities -- Harvard 3 of 5. Union 1 of 3.
Goalies -- Harvard, Gibson W, 7-4-2 (31 shots-26 saves). Union, Hanson L, 6-18-3 (35:56, 22-17); Graziano (19:59, 18-15).
T -- 2:22. A -- 1,697.
Referees -- Anthony Kenney, Douglas Place Jr. Linesmen -- Brian Oliver, Paul Traynor.