The No. 19 Harvard men’s hockey team (5-2-0, 4-2-0 ECAC) was tied with the visiting Bulldogs (0-5-0, 0-5-0) after 60 minutes of regulation. But just 1:48 into the overtime period, junior Kevin Du found linemate Ryan Maki open in front of the goal. Maki fired the puck past the left arm of the Yale goalkeeper Alec Richards and into the back of the net to clinch a 4-3 Crimson victory.
Harvard was heavily favored coming into the game, but Yale kept it close by capitalizing on its offensive chances. After the Bulldogs tied the game at three on a two-on-one breakaway with 8:03 remaining in the third period, the Crimson looked tired and flat.
“I don’t think we had a whole lot of momentum in the third period or going into overtime,” Maki said. “In the break the coach pulled us aside and told us we had to get back to the basics—smart plays, no turnovers.”
Whatever Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said during the intermission seemed to work as the Crimson took the ice for overtime in complete control for the first time since the opening period.
To start the game, it looked as though the Bulldogs were totally over-matched by Harvard’s speed and agility. The Crimson dominated possession, leading to an early 1-0 lead when senior forward Dan Murphy stuffed the puck over the line. Harvard outshot Yale 15-7 in the frame.
But the second and third periods brought trouble for a lethargic Crimson team.
After matchups against Cornell and Colgate the previous weekend and then Boston College last Tuesday, Harvard’s busy schedule prevented the squad from settling into its normal weekly routine.
“I guess you can expect your team to be a little bit spent,” Donato said.
The Crimson’s fatigue led to its being both out-muscled and outplayed for much of the game.
Although Harvard never trailed and took 34 shots to 25 for the Bulldogs, Yale seemed to steal possession at crucial moments.
After a missed pass intended for senior Tom Walsh, the Crimson surrendered its first shorthanded goal of the season, on a Bulldogs two-on-one breakaway, tying the game at one 5:59 into the middle period.
“We made sloppy, careless plays with the puck,” Donato said. “We didn’t make them work for their goals.”
Yale’s second goal was no different.
After sophomore Paul Dufault put the Crimson up 2-1 with 8:06 elapsed in the second period, Yale responded just over a minute later with an unassisted goal from senior Jeff Hristovski. Harvard senior goalie John Daigneau never saw the puck coming on the equalizer—the open shot whizzed past his right shoulder and beat him top shelf.
Yet when the Crimson did get its chances, it was unable to make the most of them, missing multiple opportunities before scoring.
“We got some good chances,” Murphy said. “We could’ve capitalized a few more times to put the game out of reach there, but Richards came up with a few saves and they had a few blocked shots. That’s the way it goes.”
After the game Donato felt fortunate to come away with the ‘W,” but unsure as to whether the team deserved it.
“I think there are some nights when we just don’t have our best,” Donato said. “I give Yale a lot of credit for that happening.”
The Bulldogs may have battled throughout, but all that mattered in the end was that the Crimson’s bench rushed the ice following Maki’s sudden-death score.
“It was a game that could’ve gone either way,” Yale coach Tim Taylor ’63 said.
Harvard was able to edge out a victory, and Bulldog tears started flowing Friday night.