ECAC's Best Sweep M. Hockey
Harvard’s struggling scorers couldn’t solve the No. 12 Big Red’s forecheck or netminder David McKee, spending the majority of their ice time struggling just to crack the offensive zone before falling 2-0 for their fourth consecutive road loss in the series.
Colgate’s defense wasn’t nearly as stingy Saturday afternoon, but the Crimson couldn’t find the net until the third period, and a late-game offensive flurry from the Raiders proved insurmountable, as Harvard fell, 4-1.
“Well we’re disappointed,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “We knew it was going to be a difficult task to come up against two of the top teams in the league on the road early on in the season. But there’s no excuses.”
CORNELL 2, HARVARD 0
Renewed emphasis on clutching and grabbing penalties should have favored Harvard (0-1-1, 0-1-1 ECACHL).
The officials whistled the Crimson for three minors in the first six minutes—seven overall—handing the Big Red (3-0-0, 1-0-0) early momentum Harvard never countered.
Though its special teams managed to kill 1:45 of 5-on-3 play early in the first period, the Crimson found itself on the defensive throughout the period with few, brief exceptions. But a man advantage, Harvard’s first of the game, awarded with two minutes left in the frame, presented the Crimson with a chance to not only catch its breath, but change the complexion of the game as well.
Yet despite the extra skater, Harvard failed to establish a presence inside the Cornell zone. A series of lackluster passes sent the Crimson scrambling back towards its own goalmouth, where junior defenseman Tom Walsh coughed up the puck to the Big Red’s Mitch Carefoot. As the two tussled behind the net, Carefoot slipped the puck out to teammate Mike Knoepfli as he streaked towards the goal.
The Cornell captain one-timed the feed, beating netminder Dov Grumet-Morris from point-blank range for the game-winning tally.
“I think there’s no doubt the game was lost for us on the special teams,” Donato said. “[We had] killed off a 5-on-3...We get on the power play. Now we have a chance to do something, and not only do we not score, but we allowed them a goal at the end of the period to get them going.”
The Big Red, fed by the energized Lynah crowd, staved off the overwhelming majority of Crimson attempts to even penetrate McKee’s zone. Harvard mustered just 17 shots and, more often than not, had trouble stringing together the necessary passes in the neutral zone, allowing Cornell to keep the puck on Crimson ice.
Under fire throughout as a result, Grumet-Morris, who recorded 32 saves, singlehandedly kept Harvard in contention with his spectacular play in net.
“Morris—I thought he played great,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “I thought time and again he made big saves for them.”
But Grumet-Morris couldn’t contain the Big Red forever. Though he turned in 14 saves on the power play alone, the seven Crimson penalties provided Cornell with one too many opportunities.
Stationed at the point on the Big Red’s 5-on-4, Ryan O’Byrne whipped Daniel Pegoraro’s pass high through traffic and past blinded Grumet-Morris for the clincher.
“I think it’s pretty obvious it was special teams that was the difference in the game,” Grumet-Morris said. “The difference in the game was power play and penalty kill. Their penalty kill got a goal, their power play got a goal—2-0 Cornell.”
COLGATE 4, HARVARD 1
HAMILTON, N.Y.—Grumet-Morris had been consistenly solid in net, Harvard had just scored its first goal in 149:42 to knot the score at one in the third period, and the momentum appeared to be in the Crimson’s corner. Just 5:38 later, the Raiders (7-2-0, 2-0-0) led 3-1.
Harvard (0-2-1, 0-2-1) held the upper hand for much of the first two periods. Its offense clicked, relative to the night before, shots tested Colgate netminder Steve Silverthorn, and Donato’s lineup shake ups appeared to have spiced up the Crimson’s play. Even Jon Smyth’s power play garbage goal on a rebound at 8:21 in the second couldn’t derail Harvard’s advantaged position.
Unlike the night before, the Crimson was outworking its opponent, an effort which at last paid off at 2:05 in the third period.
Freshman winger Jon Pelle battled in the corner to keep the puck in the zone, eventually squirting it behind the net towards center Brendan Bernakevitch. Passing diagonally across the goalmouth, he hit Dylan Reese perfectly in stride out in front, setting up the sophomore blueliner’s first goal of the season.
“We’re tied 1-1, and I thought that we had just as good a chance of winning that game as they did,” Donato said.
But Colgate caught the Crimson up ice just two minutes later, allowing a 2-on-1 rush on Grumet-Morris’ net. Kyle Wilson carried the puck along the left boards before crossing to Daryl McKinnon at the right post, who beat Grumet-Morris to the doorstep for the goal.
“They came right back two shifts later, the next shift, and went ahead,” captain Noah Welch said. “That was probably the big momentum shift that dictated the way the third period went.”
Rejuvenated by the go-ahead tally, Colgate ratcheted up the pressure in the Crimson zone, beating Harvard to loose pucks and peppering Grumet-Morris.
Amidst a blitz of activity in front of the Crimson net, Ryan Smyth ripped a shot from the right circle that deflected off Grumet-Morris’ blocker and in.
The Crimson subsequently failed to control the pace of play, sending an extra defender cheating forward in the hopes of netting an equalizer at the cost of a series of quick breaks back in the other direction. But Grumet-Morris stood firm, turning in 36 saves, 16 of them in the third period.
“He’s kinda the one thing we can rely on right now,” Welch said. “You build teams from the goalie out, I told the guys, and right now our goalie’s playing well. That’s kinda what’s keeping us in in...This guy’s back there battling for us, and that gives everyone on the team a lot of life.”
Marc Fulton’s empty-netter at 18:35 provided the final margin.
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at email@example.com.