In fact, despite entering the middle frame of its 3-1 defeat with a tenuous one-goal lead, the Crimson failed to force a save from Big Red netminder David McKee until the 12:09 mark, when a clearing effort from center ice kicked off the boards and dribbled towards the cage, prompting a painless stat-padding stop.
Smothered by Cornell in the neutral zone and at its own defensive end, Harvard notched just three shots on target between the start of the second and the 7:23 mark in the third—precisely as many as the Big Red snuck past Crimson goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris.
“In the second period, and the third period for that matter, they did what they wanted to do for the most part,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said.
Though the Crimson eventually broke through with seven shots on McKee in the final 12:37 and a one-timer by sophomore Ryan Maki that clanked off the underside of the crossbar, the damage could not be undone. Sitting back to protect its two-score lead, the Big Red limited Harvard’s offensive activity to the blue line for the most part and descended on the crease en masse to secure what few loose rebounds there were.
Though he didn’t receive an assist on either of defenseman Charlie Cook’s power-play goals—Cornell’s second and third of the contest—6’3 forward Shane Hynes certainly lent more than a helping hand.
Immovably perched directly at the top of the crease, Hynes provided the indispensable screen that blinded Grumet-Morris on both of Cook’s one-timers, leaving the Crimson’s Hobey Baker finalist with virtually no chance of plucking the puck from the air.
“No, I didn’t [see either shot],” Grumet-Morris said. “They had a very good power play. I think they were tops in the country coming in and they did an excellent job of executing.”
Down 2-1 and with captain Noah Welch already in the box for tripping, the Crimson allowed Cornell’s Daniel Pegoraro to slip past the defense in the neutral zone and streak towards Grumet-Morris before assistant captain Ryan Lannon finally intervened. Gaining on him as Pegoraro neared the net, Lannon hurled himself to the ice and stretched out to poke the puck away before crashing into the Big Red forward’s legs, drawing a penalty from the officials.
Though Harvard survived 32 seconds down two skaters, Cook scored from the point 1:04 into Lannon’s minor to seal the victory, much to the chagrin of Donato, who spent the better part of the following timeout berating referee Peter Feola for whistling the infraction.
“I thought that Ryan had separated the puck from [Pegoraro],” Donato said. “It used to be that if you separated the puck from the player first, and then the trip ensued, that it wasn’t a trip because the puck was separated. And my understanding is that if the puck is separated for an instant and then the trip follows a second or two after, then it’s still a clean play.”
AROUND THE BOARDS
Colgate defeated Vermont 2-1 in Saturday afternoon’s consolation matchup, likely securing the final at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The 16-team field will officially be announced this morning at 11 a.m. on ESPN2…Sophomore Kevin Du was the lone Crimson representative on the ECAC all-tournament team. Cook, the playoffs’ most outstanding player, highlighted four Cornell selections, including Matt Moulson, Pegoraro, and McKee. Colgate’s Joey Mormina rounded out the list of honorees…Dartmouth forward Mike Ouellette was the tournament’s top scorer with 10 points on three goals and seven assists. He is the first skater to earn that distinction without being a member of one of final four schools remaining…With the loss, Harvard’s program mark drops to 7-8-0 in the ECAC finals, while the Crimson seniors’ four-year playoff record fall to 16-2-0.
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at email@example.com.