Harvard 4, Maine 1. Could there have been a better present for Harvard goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris on the fifth night of Hanukkah?
It had been a win three long years in the making, but the senior netminder finally got the ‘W’ over Maine he had deserved all along.
As a freshman, Grumet-Morris saw his team bounced from the first round of the NCAA tournament when a Black Bears goal 2:02 into overtime ruined the goaltender’s 33-save effort.
As a sophomore, the Evanston, Ill., native stopped 32 shots on goal, matching the performance of Maine’s goalie, Jimmy Howard. The Crimson lost, 4-2.
And as a junior, Grumet-Morris saw Harvard fritter away a three-goal, third-period lead over the Black Bears in absolutely gut-wrenching fashion. He amassed 41 saves in the loss.
That’s 106 saves. And three losses.
“The motivation, I think, speaks for itself,” he had said, describing his team’s mindset before Saturday night’s contest.
And so, for the fourth year in a row, the Crimson met Maine, a squad ranked No. 10 before the game—this time in the Bright Hockey Center, though, and this time during Hanukkah.
Grumet-Morris was phenomenal, posting a season-high 39 saves. He turned aside his opponents easily—just as easily as the Crimson’s defense controlled the Black Bears forwards and Harvard’s offense ran the Maine blueliners weary.
Jimmy Howard might have been the topic of water-cooler conversation last year—even though he was knocked out 40 minutes through the Black Bears’ come-from-behind victory—but this time around, the stage belonged to Grumet-Morris.
“In my mind,” said Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 after the victory, “it was a little bit of a game within a game. I think Dov has played so well for us this year, and it was no secret that Jimmy Howard was considered one of the best goalies in the country—and should be. And I think that Dov, in his mind, felt that he wanted to have the stage a little bit, and I think he performed that way.”
In the third period, Grumet-Morris stonewalled two consecutive Maine breakaways with just over 13 minutes to play.
Last year, the two attempts might have found the back of the net.
Not this year, though. The goalie’s save percentage, .935, is now second-best in the nation.
And, thanks to Grumet-Morris, the large Maine monkey that had clung to his and the Crimson’s collective back for three years was unceremoniously dumped.
All this after holding then-No. 11 Vermont to a lone tally in Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over the Catamounts.
Of course, Grumet-Morris found this win a bit easier to come by with a few gifts from his teammates.
There was the smothering presence from Harvard’s defense, which corralled rebounds and cleared Grumet-Morris’ sightlines. And then there was the relentlessness of the Crimson offense that pounced on every second chance in sight.
In any case, it was the fifth night of Hanukkah, so why shouldn’t his teammates give him a few gifts?
Happy Hanukkah, Dov.
—Staff writer Rebecca A. Seesel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.