BOSTON—Returning from a three-week exam period layoff, the Harvard men’s hockey team began the last third of its season against the then-No. 13 Brown Bears. The 140th meeting of college hockey’s oldest rivalry ended similarly to the teams’ first meeting this season—a 2-0 Brown win in the season opener at Bright Hockey Center.
But the play on the way to this 2-1 Bears (12-5-4, 10-3-1 ECAC) win in overtime was very different than the Crimson’s shutout early in the season. On this occasion, Harvard tested Brown’s excellent netminder Yann Danis early and often, peppering him with 38 shots, and taking an early first-period lead off a power-play goal from freshman Kevin Du.
The Bears rallied to tie the game in the second period on a power-play goal from Vince Macri, finally solving a Crimson penalty kill that succeeded in suffocating Brown’s top power play for most of the game.
And when the game went into overtime, it was all Bears. All 31 seconds of it. Brown got three shots in that half a minute of OT and Nick Ringstand grabbed the rebound off of one and found the net behind Harvard goalie Dov Grumet-Morris.
The opening game of the 52nd Annual Beanpot Tournament featured defending-champion Boston University (8-10-6, 4-9-2 Hockey East) skating against Northeastern (7-13-4, 2-10-3). In a fast-paced game that featured a number of odd-man rushes, the Terriers pulled out a 5-2 win. BU will face Boston College in the Beanpot championship next Monday.
The scoring began early, with the Huskies’ Eric Ortlip tallying a goal 1:11 into the first period. But before momentum could even begin to sink in, the Terriers’ Steve Greeley took a pass from defenseman Ryan Whitney and popped a shot past Northeastern goalie Keni Gibson. That goal provided an important momentum shift, according to BU coach Jack Parker.
“The fact that they had jumped out 1-0 and we came back and scored was huge,” he said.
The Terriers took the lead minutes later, when Brad Zancanaro, standing right in front of Gibson, deflected in a point shot from Mark Mullen. The Huskies answered before the end of the first to tie the score at 2.
But those early goals were not the key to the game; as BU pulled ahead of Northeastern with two unanswered goals, the play of Terrier netminder Sean Fields became the deciding factor in the game, according to both Parker and Huskies coach Bruce Crowder.
While Gibson was solid only for parts of the game, Fields was consistently solid throughout and was occasionally spectacular in the third period amidst sustained Northeastern pressure.
“Our goalie played great and he made a couple of huge saves in the third period,” Parker said.
“The goaltending was the big difference tonight,” Crowder agreed.
In an unusual move, Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni yanked junior netminder Dov Grumet-Morris 3:20 into the second period. After two fluke goals—one the result of an inexplicable ricochet off the glass, the other knocked directly in by the shot of a teammate—and one soft rebound that led to the Eagles third goal, Mazzoleni elected to replace Grumet-Morris in net with sophomore John Daigneau.
It marked the first time Mazzoleni pulled Grumet-Morris since Feb. 15, 2002—a span of 54 starts.
“[The third BC score] wasn’t a good goal,” Mazzoleni said. “We needed a spark at that time.”
And Daigneau managed to provide that spark, keeping the Eagles off the scoreboard for almost two periods before Tony Voce added a goal with just over a minute remaining.
Mazzoleni said that the starting goaltender for Friday night’s game at Yale has not been decided yet, but that he believed Daigneau did “an exceptional job”.
In a stark contrast to its performance on Saturday against Brown, the Crimson had trouble finding the net against BC, let alone the back of it. Harvard ended the first period with only four shots on Eagle netminder Matti Kaltiainen. In fact, through two periods the Crimson managed only nine shots on net.
And though the team did pick things up in the third—firing 11 shots and getting sustained pressure on Kaltiainen at times—the effort was a far cry from the barrage unleashed on Danis on Saturday, something the team had hoped to copy against the Eagles. Particularly troubling was Harvard’s inability to manage a single shot on either of its two first period power play opportunities.
Beanpot Hall of Fame
The lone bright spot on the evening for the Crimson came from Harvard hockey alum Bob Bland ’62, who was inducted into the Beanpot Hall of Fame. Bland, a Crimson goaltender from 1960 to 1962, was named the Tournament MVP in 1960 for helping the Crimson win the ‘pot. And with Bland as a backstop, Harvard won the hometown trophy again in 1962.
—Staff writer Timothy M. McDonald can be reached at email@example.com.