On Friday and Saturday night, we certainly had a lot of excitement and fan support with sellout crowds at Lynah Rink, but we didn’t perform to our capabilities either night. On Friday evening, we played hard against Dartmouth and created a lot of chances in the game. But we got frustrated during the game not being able to score on the visitors’ 6-foot-8 goalie. You have to give credit where credit is due and Cooper Black’s play was unbelievable on Friday night; he’s a tough goalie to beat! We had a lot of scoring chances and I think guys got frustrated as the game went on. I thought we got away from our game plan.
Early in the first period, we had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1.3 minutes, but we didn’t score because of fine goalie play. With about eight minutes remaining in the first period, our penalty-kill unit held Dartmouth without a shot-on-goal. After 20 minutes of action, we held a 13-1 shot advantage.
The scoring came quickly in the second period. Sophomore forward Dalton Bancroft put us in front 1-0 less than a minute into the period, but the lead didn’t last long as John Fusco (played his freshman season at Harvard), a Toronto draftee, scored the first of two goals for the Big Green. We kept the pressure on and junior forward Kyle Penney had a breakaway chance but his shot was deflected wide. The final six minutes of the second period belonged to Dartmouth but our defense and junior goaltender Ian Shane were up to the challenge. Still in the second period, Fusco scored his second goal of the game on a goalmouth scramble to put the visitors in front, 2-1, with four minutes left in the period. With 59 seconds remaining and on a power play, freshman defenseman Ben Robertson found junior defenseman Tim Rego in the low slot at the bottom of the right faceoff circle, and Rego’s one-timer evened the score at 2-2.
Neither team scored in the third period nor in the 5-minute overtime. Both teams had plenty of scoring chances but superb goaltending by both teams sent the game into a shootout. In the shootout, Bancroft and senior forward Gabriel Seger scored for us to earn a 2-1 shootout win and an extra point in the standings but the game still shows as a 2-2 tie for the record book.
Shane made 20 saves in the game and Black of Dartmouth stopped 31 shots. We were 1-for-5 on the power play and the Big Green was 1-for-2.
On Saturday night, the air was electric with anticipation. The stands were packed beyond belief, and yes, some fish were thrown onto the ice before the game. Fans were warned that once the game started, if anything was thrown onto the ice, we would be assessed a penalty and we didn’t see another object on the ice all night long. The game didn’t begin well, Harvard came out flying and scored on the power play in the first minute. Special teams came into play all night long and they let us down even though they had been our strength this season.
At the 14:52 mark, freshman forward Luke Devlin scored his third goal of the season, sending a backhanded shot from the right circle past the Harvard net minder. Three minutes later, the Crimson scored their second power-play goal and we went into the first intermission down, 2-1. We chased it right from the start but never could get the lead.
The second period was scoreless with a combined 12 shots on goal with both goaltenders stopping numerous potential scoring chances. We did have to kill off a double minor penalty. But we allowed just one shot on goal. Shane did a great job stonewalling a two-on-0 Harvard opportunity by catching a one-timer.
Just 1:45 into the third period, freshman forward Jake Kraft found an open net and scored his first collegiate goal to tie the score at 2-2. But Harvard tallied the game-winner at 6:52 with Alex Gaffney recording his second goal of the game, jabbing the loose puck into the net during a goal-mouth-scramble. We challenged the goal with goaltender interference, but it was denied. Shortly after, we had another power play opportunity but to no avail. I thought our power play got selfish for the first time this year. They really didn’t move the puck around and open up seams and lanes — all they wanted to do was shoot pucks. In the middle of the final period, we had an excellent 5-on-3 opportunity but couldn’t convert any of our three shots-on-goal.
Our freshman defenseman Ben Robertson was credited with an assist on the Kraft goal in the third period. He has started his collegiate career with points in six straight games becoming just the second Big Red frosh player to record a six-game point streak to begin their varsity career. Morgan Barron, now playing in the NHL, had a seven-game point total to start his career at Cornell.
Shane made 13 saves in goal for the Red and the Harvard net minder stopped 27 shots. We were 0-for-5 on the power play and the Crimson was 2-for-5.
Saturday night was the proverbial buzz kill getting scored on in the first minute of the game. We didn’t give up a whole lot defensively but when we did Harvard shooters had clear looks at Ian Shane. Our power-play had some great looks but overall didn’t perform. Our penalty-kill did a good job but a huge mistake in the first period cost us dearly. We will look back at this game and it will teach us some lessons. Guys wanted to win tonight but overall we didn’t play as a team. We couldn’t stay focused at the job at hand and play together as a team.
The competition doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Quinnipiac on Friday night and Princeton on Saturday evening. As always, we’re glad to welcome support from alumni and friends when on the road.