And in a way it did, just not in the manner the Crimson anticipated.
The man-advantage began almost eight minutes into the third, when the Engineers’ Tommy Green was called for slashing. It was Harvard’s second power play of the game, and proved to be an impressive one. Over the course of one minute and 36 seconds—from 7:51 to 9:27—the Crimson almost knocked the Engineers off their skates.
Junior center Tom Cavanagh won the initial draw in the face-off circle immediately to RPI goalie Nathan Marsters’ left; a quick shot, a save and a cover by Marsters again led to a face-off, this time on his right.
Another face-off would follow. All told, Harvard forced three face-offs near the Engineers net and kept all of them inside the blue line, using sustained pressure to pepper Marsters with six shots over the next 1:36. Following the third faceoff in the RPI’s zone, the Crimson’s top power-play unit kept up the pressure without allowing a stoppage in play, rotating the puck along the low boards and working it back-and-forth at the blue line.
Following a hard shot by senior forward Tim Pettit, Cavanagh scooped up the loose puck, worked it down along the low boards and found assistant captain Tyler Kolarik in front for an easy power-play goal.
“We had the puck in there the full duration of a minute-thirty before we scored,” Mazzoleni said. “We had some great chances; it was great goaltending [by Marsters].”
“I thought our movement with the puck and away from the puck was strong,” he said. “We generated numerous scoring opportunities [in the game].”
But those opportunities weren’t enough, even with the impressive power play goal. Marsters turned aside 16 of the 17 shots he faced in the final frame, and served as a rallying point for the Engineers, which was a key factor according to RPI coach Dan Fridgen.
“I liked the way we really didn’t get rattled when [Harvard] went up 2-1 on the power play goal,” he said.
Spectators at Saturday night’s game witnessed the homecoming of first-year Union head coach Nate Leaman, who served as an assistant on Mazzoleni’s staff from 1999-2003.
Every current Harvard player either played for or was recruited by Leaman. Though it was not the Crimson’s first game against Leaman this season—that was a 3-2 win against the Dutchmen in Schenectady, NY on Jan. 2—it was Leaman’s first game at Bright Hockey Center since his departure.
“It’s a lot different being on this side,” said Leaman of his return to the Harvard rink. “Obviously, there’s a lot of familiar people. It was good to see [Dick Emerson] the trainer, and Jamie Weir [Harvard’s assistant director of athletic communications], and people like that. [Because] I think the people around here are just really good people. They’re solid, solid people.”
Leaman had a hard time masking disappointment with losing to his old team after the game. With the Harvard band playing “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” after the final horn, Leaman said, half-jokingly, that he didn’t like “that song.”
“It’s not a good song when you’re the visiting team,” he said.