In last night's 2-1 loss to Boston College, Harvard was unable to capitalize on any of its five power-play opportunities. In fact, the Eagles first goal came four minutes into the third period when Harvard was a man up, further exacerbating the woes of the Crimson's power-play unit.
The Harvard special teams have steadily improved and even displayed moments of brilliance this season. This was evident two weeks ago against UNH on a textbook perfect power play goal. While the power play team is displaying good puck movement and sets up goal scoring situations, it has been unable to put the puck in the net, as it is not taking enough shots.
"I think our power play moved the puck very well," senior forward Kirk Nielson said. "We didn't get any goals off of it, but we had a lot of chances."
Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni remained even more optimistic.
"I think our power-play looked pretty darn good, it's just that we couldn't get it [the puck] by [BC goalie] Taylor."
And while looking good is important in a fashion show, it is definitely not a major concern in hockey.
On the flip side, the penalty killing unit has done a superb job all season, tallying a total of five goals to the power play unit's six goals. The penalty killing team, composed of captain Brad Konik, senior Peter McLauglin, senior Tommy Holmes, and freshman Ben Storey, has successfully kept the puck out of their zone and provided senior goalie Tripp Tracy with a clear view of the puck.
The Crimson's power play unit is only one factor contributing to its dearth of goals this year. In Harvard's last three games, it has faced the three worst teams in Hockey East and has only come up with four goals besides three goals scored in the third period against Northeastern.
The Crimson had ample opportunities against the Eagles last night but could only find one opening against the stingy Taylor.
Seconds after Nielsen scored Harvard's only goal of the game. Nielsen had a breakaway up the right wing but his shot veered wide left.
"I pretty much had an open net that I wish I could have back," Nielsen said. "You've got to give a lot of credit to Livlor, in that he had a terrific game against us again."
In another instance of a missed opportunity, Konik Lieed a perfect cross pass from right wing to a streaking Holmes with two minutes remaining in the first period. The pass grazed Holmes' stick, but he was unable to get a shot off. If Holmes, who was right on the side of the net, had been able to control the puck, he would have had a great chance to break the scoreless tie.
That this scoring chance was missed at even strength lends it a credible excuse, but chances missed with a one man advantage are not as easily excused. To have a successful year, the Crimson must perfect its power play and take its offense beyond the almost-but-not-quite stagnation they seem to be in.