Reeling from Friday night’s 4-1 loss to Clarkson, the Harvard men’s hockey team trailed tenth-place St. Lawrence 3-0 heading into the third period on Saturday.
That did not bode well for the Crimson (10-11-4, 9-6-3 ECAC), who had won just once in 11 games this season when trailing after two periods and was a dismal 1-5-0 since the exam break.
On top of that, two of Harvard’s top scoring threats—junior center Brett Nowak and sophomore winger Tyler Kolarik—were out of the lineup against the Saints (9-18-1, 7-10-1).
Clearly, something had to be done if the Crimson was going to turn the tide. As it turned out, Harvard senior captain Peter Capouch knew exactly what to say during the second intermission.
“I just told [the team] that if we were going to come back we had to compete harder,” Capouch said. “Over the last six or eight games we haven’t been, and that’s obviously shown in our record. With the playoffs coming up soon we had to start playing better. I said what I felt, and fortunately it turned things around.”
The Crimson responded to its captain’s urgings, rallying with three third-period goals and playing solid defense to keep SLU off the board and secure a 3-3 tie.
“[Capouch] just let us know that we had to pick it up,” freshman forward Tom Cavanagh said. “He said that we couldn’t lay down. We had to make it happen.”
With the tie, Harvard assured itself of a berth in the ECAC playoffs for the 21st year in a row. Just making the playoffs, though, isn’t the final goal for the Crimson.
“This team has to go on a run, and that started in the third period against St. Lawrence,” said Harvard sophomore winger Rob Fried. “Our goal is to reach the ECAC finals. We can run the table these last couple weekends [of the regular season] and then keep going to Lake Placid.”
With just four ECAC games remaining, Harvard is tied for third place with Clarkson, just one point behind Dartmouth but eight in back of league-leading No. 7 Cornell.
Harvard 3, St. Lawrence 3 (OT)
Fried started Harvard’s comeback just 1:07 into the third. He pounced on a misplayed puck in the St. Lawrence zone and sent a high shot toward Saint goaltender Mike McKenna, who was able to make the save but did not control the rebound. Fried hustled after the puck and slipped it by McKenna to trim the deficit to 3-1.
“[Junior Dominic Moore] forced the puck out on the four-on-four,” Fried said. “I took a slapshot in the slot and then followed it up.”
Fried said that he relishes the opportunity to play with Moore.
“[Moore] is so good with the puck,” Fried said. “You just have to pick for him to give him room and he’ll produce.”
Although McKenna turned aside a breakaway bid from Crimson sophomore winger Tim Pettit near the period’s halfway mark, Harvard was able to cut SLU’s lead to one at 12:55 of the frame on Cavanagh’s fifth goal of the season.
“[Freshman forward] Andrew Lederman was battling in the corner and chipped the puck to me,” Cavanagh said. “I chipped it back to him in front, and he got it to the net. I was coming back from the behind the net and picked it up in front. I just turned around and shot it. Luckily it went in.”
The Crimson tied the score less than a minute and a half later on what proved to be the game’s final goal. Working from behind the end line, Capouch fired a shot toward the front of the net that kicked off McKenna’s skate and into the cage to make it 3-3.
“I’m not going to say I was trying to score a goal,” Capouch said with a laugh. “It was just one of those scrambled plays. I was trying to throw it out in front and it went in.”
From his speech in the locker room to his game-tying score, it seemed that all aspects of Harvard’s comeback could be traced to the Crimson captain.
“He’s been the heart of our team all year long,” Fried said of Capouch. “He realized how important it was that we didn’t wait until it was too late.”
St. Lawrence outshot Harvard by a 4-1 margin during overtime, but Crimson sophomore goaltender Will Crothers made sure that his team skated away with a crucial point in the ECAC standings.
Capouch said that the deadlock almost felt like a win for Harvard, considering its early deficit.
“You never like to end the game in a tie, but I think it was a good step for our team to come back and compete really hard for 20 minutes,” he said. “You could sense on the bench that we had gotten the confidence back that we had a shot to win. Now we just have to keep building on that energy.”
The contest was scoreless for much of the first period, but Saint defenseman Jimmy Ball put a rebound past Crothers top-shelf with 2:50 to go for a 1-0 SLU advantage.
St. Lawrence winger Andy Marchetti potted a pair of second-period goals—the first coming at 13:26 of the period and the second a little more than three minutes later—to open up a 3-0 Saint lead.
SLU’s early advantage seemed even more daunting to Harvard considering the absences of Kolarik and Nowak, who are first and third on the team in scoring, respectively. Both were scratched by Mazzoleni, leaving the Crimson with only 17 skaters instead of the standard 18.
“I think the message that was trying to be sent [by Mazzoleni] was that this is a team, we have to play like a team all the time, and no one person is bigger than the team,” Capouch said. “We have a lot of great players and everybody can contribute. That’s what we need down the stretch.”
Crothers finished with 33 saves for the Crimson, while McKenna made 23 stops for SLU. Both teams went 0-for-4 in their power play chances.
Clarkson 4, Harvard 1
The Golden Knights (12-12-6, 8-5-5) put up three goals in the first period on Friday night and never looked back.
Clarkson freshman winger Mac Faulkner began the scoring just 4:45 into the game, as he beat Harvard freshman goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris after receiving a pass through the slot from forward Jean Desrochers.
The Crimson countered less than five minutes later, as Moore potted a power-play goal to tie the game at one. Nowak and Capouch were credited with assists on the marker, Moore’s ninth of the season.
The Golden Knights responded, though, moving ahead 2-1 at the 13:40 mark. Junior centerman Kevin O’Flaherty pounced on a shot from defenseman Randy Jones that had bounced off the endboards and slipped it by Grumet-Morris for the eventual game-winner.
Clarkson opened up a two-goal lead on a very similar scoring sequence. This time, winger Jay Latulippe sent in a shot that popped out from the boards and onto the waiting stick of wing Chris Blight, who beat Grumet-Morris with just 1:52 to play in the period.
Blight’s goal capped a high-scoring period for the Golden Knights and prompted Mazzoleni to make a switch in goal as the second period opened, lifting Grumet-Morris in favor of Crothers.
It seemed as if Crothers was prepared to enter the game, as he and Clarkson netminder Mike Walsh battled to a stalemate in a scoreless second period.
In fact, neither team scored until well into the third, when Latulippe earned his second point of the evening by beating Crothers on a breakaway with 7:58 to go in the game for the final margin of victory.
Harvard’s goaltending duo stopped six shots in each frame, as Crothers finished with 12 during his 40 minutes of work.
Walsh made 23 saves for the Knights.
This weekend, the Crimson will play host to Rensselaer and Union in its final regular season homestand. After that, Harvard will travel to Yale and Princeton on March 1 and 2, respectively, to close out the schedule.
The Crimson’s four remaining opponents have a combined ECAC record of 27-36-9, which bodes well for Harvard’s ability to jockey for playoff positioning.
“I think right now we have to really focus on second place,” Capouch said. “I think it’s a stretch to say that we could catch Cornell. But if we finish strong we can definitely [end up] in second place.”
The Big Red (18-6-1, 14-3-1 ECAC) needs just one victory over its next four games to secure its first ECAC regular season title since 1973.
CLARKSON 4, M. HOCKEY 1
at Cheel Arena, Potsdam, N.Y.
Harvard (10-11-3, 9-6-2) 1 0 0 — 1
Clarkson (12-11-6, 8-4-5) 3 0 1 — 4
First Period: C, Faulkner (Desrochers, Blight) 4:45. H, Moore (Nowak, Capouch) 9:01 (pp). C, O’Flaherty (Jones, Bahen) 13:40. C, Blight (Latulippe, Reid) 18:08 (pp). Third Period: C, Jay Latulippe (unassisted) 12:02. Shots on goal: H 8-7-9 24, C 9-6-7 22. Power Play: H 1-5, C 1-5. Penalties: H 6-12, C 6-12. Goalies: H, Grumet-Morris (9-6) Crothers (13-12) C, Walsh (24-23). A: 2,782.
HARVARD 3, M. HOCKEY 3
at Appleton Arena, Canton, N.Y.
Harvard (10-11-4, 9-6-3) 0 0 3 0 — 3
St. Lawrence (9-18-1, 7-10-1) 1 2 0 0 — 3
First Period: S, Ball (Lorentz, Peverley) 17:10. Second Period: S, Marchetti (DiLauro) 13:26. S, Marchetti (Fitzrandolph, Peverley) 16:35. Third Period: H, Fried (unassisted) 1:07. H, Cavanagh (Welch, Barlow) 12:55. H, Capouch (Moore, Packard) 14:24. Shots on goal: H 5-3-16-1 25, S 10-12-9-4 35. Power Play: H 0-4, S 0-5. Penalties: H 7-14, S 6-12. Goalies: H, Crothers (35-32) S, McKenna (25-22). A: 2,426.