HANOVER, N.H.--It was a win. It wasn't the most dominant game the Harvard hockey team has played, but it was a win.
A win that gave the Crimson sole possession of first place in the ECAC.
Faster than a speeding Zamboni, Harvard drove to a 3-1 first period lead, slowed down, but still defeated Dartmouth, 4-2, here in front of 2653 Thompson Arena spectators last night.
As a result of its victory over the Big Green, Harvard (5-0 overall, 5-0 ECAC, 4-0 Ivy League) gained sole possession of first place in the ECAC, a half-game ahead of St. Lawrence (7-0, 4-0).
"You get ahead, 4-1, and there's a tendency to slack off," Harvard Coach Bill Cleary said. "You've got to be ready mentally in the game. We have to tighten up a lot."
C.J. Young led all Crimson scorers with a two-goal performance.
Harvard did have to mount a comeback in the game, after the Big Green (1-3-1, 1-3-1, 1-3) revved up its engine early.
With Harvard whistled for a bench penalty at the :53 mark of the first period, Sean Tomalty tipped in a rebound off a Tom Finks shot to give Dartmouth a 1-0 lead 18 seconds later.
But after Young's first tally of game tied the contest at the 6:19 mark, the Crimson guzzled some gas and proved why it is the most dangerous offensive team in the ECAC.
John Murphy scored his third goal of the season when Ted Donato, battling a few Dartmouth defenders at the far boards, sent his linemate the puck right in front of the net. Murphy's shot flew past Dartmouth goalie Steve Laurin to give Harvard a 2-1 lead at the 14:28 mark of the opening period.
Eighteen seconds later, freshman Timmy Burke was celebrating his first collegiate goal. Harvard slammed the brakes after Burke's goal and could manage only one more tally--an Allen Bourbeau to Young two-on-one 27 seconds into the second period.
The Crimson had several scoring opportunities in the game, but Laurin, one of the ECAC's best goalies, stopped 25 Harvard shots.
If Laurin is one of the league's best goalies, Harvard freshman Allain Roy (26 saves) will eventually join the ECAC elite.
While the Harvard offense sputtered in the final two periods, Roy quickly ended any ideas of a Big Green comeback.
During a Dartmouth power play midway through the third period, Tomalty thought he saw a chance to put a slapshot in the right corner of the net. Instead, all he saw was Roy's leg kick the puck away.
"They came flying in the third period," Roy said. "They did a good job shooting the puck, but they didn't get that many quality shots. I felt pretty confident."
Beside Roy not stopping its shots, The Big Green might have also wished that the net was just a little wider, as most of its shots hit the far boards instead of the net.
"We just didn't take advantage of our scoring opportunities." Dartmouth Coach Brian Mason said.
The Harvard defense made Roy's job a bit easier by clearing the puck out of the crease more consistently than in Saturday's game against Princeton. In the final period, with Harvard ahead, 4-2, the Green pressured the net, but Harvard's defense clamped down.
"I think ever since the Princeton game, we are trying to concentrate more on defense," Harvard Captain Lane MacDonald said. "On a night like this, we needed a solid effort defensively."
It was definitely Harvard's defensive unit that held the lead for the Crimson. After giving a power-play goal in the opening period, Harvard killed its five other penalties.
Crimson, 4-2 at Thompson Arena Harvard 3-1-0--4 Dartmouth 1-1-0-2
First Period--1, D, Tomalty 1 (Fink Tweddell) 1:11;2, H, Young 4 (MacDonald, Bourbeau) 6:19;3, H, Murphy 3 (Donato. B. McCormack) 14:28; 4, H, Burke 1 (Ciavaglia, DeFreitas) 14:46. Penalties--H, bench penalty (too many men on the ice) :53; D, Finks (interference) 4:46; H, Ciavaglia (roughing) 10:10; D, Twiddell (roughing) 10:10; H, Caplan (elbowing) 15:08.
Second Period--5, H, Young 5 (Bourbeau, MacDonald) :27; 6, D, Daly (Nieman, Hanlon) 16:41. Penalties--H, Burke (slashing) 1:15; H, Presz (interference) 5:14.
Third Period--No scoring Penalties--H, Borbeau (holding) 5:58; D, Nieman (holding) 8:05; H, Hartje (interference) 8:38; D, Ocken (hooking) 10:45; H, Ciavaglia (boarding) 12:21; D, Hanlon (elbowing) 19:20.
Saves: H, Roy, 5-11-10-26; D, Laurin 11-12-2--25.