CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sophomore Ryan Donato scored Friday night's first two and last two goals, bringing the home sellout crowd of 3,095 fans to its feet four times in Harvard's (17-5-2, 12-4-2 ECACH) 6-2 victory over No. 6/6 Union (19-8-2, 12-4-1 ECACH).
Donato becomes the first Harvard player since Connor Morrison on Nov. 24, 2009 to score four goals in a game. This also marks the second time in Donato's career he has reached three goals in one game. The first time occurred almost a year ago against the same opponent when he went for three against the Dutchmen on Feb. 13, 2016. With the four tallies, Donato now has a team-leading 15 goals this season.
The Crimson's win, coupled with St. Lawrence's loss to Princeton, vaults Harvard to the top of the ECAC standings with 26 points. Union and St. Lawrence are tied for second with 25 points.
Donato's first tally came just 3:02 into the contest when his strong forecheck allowed him to intercept the puck in front of the Union net where he beat starting goaltender Jake Kupsky.
The Crimson erupted in the second frame for three goals over a 4:17 stretch, while the Harvard defense remained stout and held Union scoreless through two periods. Sophomore goalie Merrick Madsen totaled 10 of his 32 saves in the frame.Donato's second tally came 7:44 into the period on a snipe from the top of the right face-off circle. Sophomore Lewis Zerter-Gossage and freshman Adam Fox were credited with assists on the shot from Donato.
Defenseman Viktor Dombrovskiy followed that up with a laser close to the Harvard blue-line at the 7:59 mark, counting for his third goal of the season. Fellow defenseman John Marino and freshman Ty Pelton-Byce set up Dombrovskiy for the goal.
Harvard extended its lead to 4-0 on a one-timer from senior Sean Malone from the slot. Senior Luke Esposito was behind the net and found Malone waiting in front for the score. The goal marked Malone's 14th on the year.
Union began a late comeback in the third period, scoring twice before the midway point of the frame. Senior Mike Vecchione scored and then assisted on a goal from sophomore Sebastian Vidmar to cut the Harvard lead to 4-2.
It'd be as close as the Crimson would allow Union to get though, as Donato potted a pair of empty-net goals in the waning minutes to seal the victory.
Harvard now readies for its Beanpot final matchup on Monday night against No. 3/3 Boston University at TD Garden. The Terriers fell Friday, 3-2, to No. 9/10 UMass Lowell.