Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – Ryan Donato’s hat trick lifted the Harvard Crimson over the Catamounts on Saturday night in the concluding game of the 21st annual TD Bank Catamount Cup at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
The Catamounts drop to 4-12-3 (1-6-2 HEA) after their non-conference finale, while Harvard improves to 5-6-1 (4-3-0 ECAC) on the season.
Harvard jumped out of the gates to a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Ty Pelton-Byce at 1:21 of the first period. The Crimson established control in the Vermont zone where Donato dished pass to a wide open Pelton-Byce. The sophomore forward collected the puck and wristed a shot high short side on Tyler Harmon (25 saves). Reilly Walsh was awarded the secondary assist on the opening goal.
The Catamounts responded two minutes later on Ross Colton‘s 11th goal of the season. Colton won a faceoff to the right of Merrick Madsen (27 saves) and Conor O’Neil collected the puck before trying to force a wraparound past the Crimson netminder. Madsen was able to deny O’Neil’s attempt but Colton charged the net to push the puck across the goal line.
Donato recaptured the lead for Harvard with 11:18 left in the opening frame. Henry Bowlby sprung Donato on a 1-on-1 against a Vermont defender before the forward fired a low shot past Harmon blocker side.
Harvard entered the first intermission with a 3-1 lead after Donato scored his second of the night with 18 seconds left in the period. Donato deflected a shot by Lewis Zerter-Gossage from the left wing over the blocker of Harmon.
Fueled by three power play chances, UVM had the majority of the chances in a scoreless second period, outshooting the Crimson 14-3 in the frame. Alex Esposito was denied twice by Madsen on a pair of point-blank looks from the low slot with the man advantage.
The Catamounts thought they had cut the deficit in half with 2:10 left as Jarrid Privitera nearly batted the puck past Madsen, but play continued and it was confirmed no goal after video review at the next stoppage.
UVM earned two more power plays in the third but couldn’t draw a goal back. Madsen made his best save at the right post to rob a rebound attempt from Liam Coughlin. Donato later sealed the Crimson victory as well as his hat trick on an empty-net goal with 36 seconds left in regulation.
St. Lawrence shut out UMass Lowell in the early game on Saturday to clinch the tournament title.
The Catamounts return to Hockey East play next Friday (Jan. 5) on the road at UMass Lowell as they take on the River Hawks at 7:15 p.m. at Tsongas Center.