The last two times a Harvard hockey team has played at the Mariucci Arena in Minnesota it has won the national championship. The women's team captured the crown last year and the men's team stunned the Land of 10,000 Lakes in 1989 for its NCAA title.
The Golden Gophers were less hospitable this time around.
The Harvard men's hockey team dropped a pair of games Dec. 29 and Dec. 30 at the Mariucci Classic, losing 5-2 to Minnesota (8-10-2, 4-6-2 WCHA) in front of a sellout crowd of 9, 529, and falling 4-2 to UMass-Amherst (6-9-2, 0-6-1 Hockey East).
Minnesota upset No. 8 Northern Michigan, 6-2 to win its own holiday tournament.
Harvard (6-7-1, 5-3-1 ECAC) started off its game against the Golden Gophers with a flash as freshman center Dominic Moore struck just 19 seconds into the game on an assist by senior winger Matt Macleod to give Harvard a 1-0 lead.
The Crimson, however, could not keep up with its faster opponent and it began to break down defensively. Junior center Erik Westrum tied the game at 4:06 of the first period. Senior winger Dave Sphear gave the Golden Gophers a 2-1 lead on the power play in the waning seconds of the opening frame.
Minnesota added a goal in the second period. Sophomore defenseman Mark Nenovich and junior winger Aaron Miskovich built the Golden Gopher lead to 5-1 in the third period.
"Our game against the Gophers was one of our poorest games to date," Harvard Coach Mark Mazzoleni said. "We really did not have a commitment to our system. We deviated from it, and they are a good hockey team."