Murphy's Hard-Nosed Play Helps Top UVM

After watching Vermont goaltender Joe Fallon stonewall the Harvard offense early on last night, Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 knew that his team wasn’t going to get any sort of pretty victory over the No. 10 Catamounts.

“Their kid was very tough in the net tonight, and there were not going to be any easy goals,” Donato said.

Enter junior Dan Murphy, whose hard-nosed line has been a consistent Harvard asset all season long.

Just 2:56 into the second frame—and only 14 seconds after Vermont had taken a 1-0 lead on a Joey Gasparini tally—Murphy met the Catamount defense at the red line, intent on finishing a hit.

Dylan Reese fed Murphy the puck, which the latter then launched at Fallon. The netminder coughed up a rebound, and freshman Tyler Magura quickly punched in for his first collegiate goal.

“I was definitely surprised about it,” Murphy said of his chance, “but all I tried to do was to get a shot off, and Tyler was there to put in the rebound.”

The play was, as Donato would explain, exactly the kind the Crimson would need.

“The goal that was scored was how I felt we would need to score, and that would be on a rebound, because [Fallon]’s an excellent goaltender.”

It was just one of many chances Murphy and his linemates—centerman Magura and senior Rob Flynn—have generated all season long.

Donato attributes the success of this fourth line, which he earlier this season dubbed “the one constant” in his ever-changing lineup, to the fact that all three skaters “understand their roles.

“They’re defensively very sound, physically they carry a lot of the load for us...and they give us a lot of energy.”

During last night’s Bright Hockey Center matchup, in which Vermont fans seemed to both outnumber and outcheer the Harvard crowd, it was undeniably Murphy’s line that helped the Crimson keep pace.

The trio was sent onto the ice in a handful of crucial situations—following the initial Catamount goal and after special teams situations—and each time, Donato said, the line was “effective at not allowing the other team to get the momentum back.”

And it was Murphy who would steal that momentum for good, notching the game-winning goal 6:45 into the third period, the very second Vermont’s Jamie Sifers stepped back on the ice after a cross-check had sent him to the penalty box.

As Harvard forward Charlie Johnson pushed the puck to net, Murphy snuck behind a Catamount defenseman.

“I had the rebound right there,” he explained, “so all I had to do was tap it in.”

It was not the junior’s only chance—midway through the second period, he blitzed Vermont’s net for a point-blank chance, and it was Murphy’s physical play in the third period that headlined, in large part, a renewed effort from the same Crimson squad that has displayed a somewhat disturbing tendency to squander leads late in the game.

The two pivotal points Murphy accumulated last night give him seven on the season, and he now trails just five skaters on the team points list.

Those five skaters? The members of Harvard’s commanding top power-play unit.

And it is Murphy’s own description of his line explains, in large part, the success he tasted last night.

“I think it’s just all of us know our roles,” he said, echoing his coach’s sentiments. “We’re all big guys, trying to just get the puck in deep, and not do anything pretty, and play the body as much as we can and not give up anything defensively.”

And this defensive yet aggressive play has, Donato noted, “been a big spark for us throughout the year.”

In particular, it was Murphy who spearheaded the Harvard campaign against red-hot Vermont, a team that had not lost its last 11 games.

But the junior remained matter-of-fact as he explained the mantra that has now led the Crimson to its eight win in nine tries.

“We know we’ve got to manufacture goals,” he said. “We know we’re not going to be beating people 1-on-1. Nothing’s going to be pretty for us, so we’re just trying to get the puck to the net, and then outwork people at the net.

“And I think that’s how it happened tonight.”

—Staff writer Rebecca A. Seesel can be reached at seesel@fas.harvard.edu.

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