After getting off to a slow start, the Harvard men’s hockey team scored two late second-period goals in Friday night’s game against Colgate at the Bright Hockey Center. That proved to be all the Crimson would need to win, 4-1, and clinch home ice for the first round of the ECAC tournament next weekend.
From the start, Harvard outshot the Raiders (13-19-4, 7-12-3 ECAC), unloading 11 shots on goal to Colgate’s five in the first period, but Raiders goaltender Mark Dekanich proved tough to beat.
“I knew coming in to this it would be a difficult game,” said Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91. “They’re a talented team with that first line and the goaltending.”
Colgate struck first when junior Tyler Burton pickpocketed freshman center Doug Rogers at the Harvard blue line and sent a slapshot past senior goaltender Justin Tobe just 5:08 into the first frame.
The Crimson had a good look at goal later in the first period, as Rogers intercepted a Raiders cross pass, leaving him alone with Dekanich. But the pivot was denied on the slapshot attempt.
Harvard continued the offensive pressure in the second period, again outshooting Colgate 11-5.
The persistence finally paid off at 18:58, when Harvard freshman Chad Morin took a pass from Tobe, snaked through the Raider defense, and dumped a backhand shot into the right side of the net, tying the game, 1-1.
“Tobe made a great pass to me there, put it right on my tape, gave me a little speed,” Morin said. “I saw the defenseman was flat-footed, so I took it wide and tried to throw it upstairs on the backhand.”
Junior Alex Meintel followed up less than a minute later with a mid-range slapshot from just inside the left circle to give the Crimson the lead going into the second intermission.
That was all Tobe needed to get the win in his first conference start since Harvard played Dartmouth on Dec. 16.
“Justin has worked very hard,” Donato said. “We have confidence in him and he played excellent tonight.”
Tobe needed only five saves in each of the first two periods and fought off 13 more attacks in the third.
Senior Kevin Du supplied an insurance goal 6:08 into the third period, when he crashed the net on senior Ryan Maki’s shot and slotted the rebound past Dekanich, giving the Crimson a 3-1 lead.
Maki finished the scoring with his 12th goal of the season on a power-play opportunity, tipping in a Morin shot at 15:39 to complete the 4-1 victory.
One of the highlights of the game was the Harvard defense and penalty kill, which kept Colgate to five shots on goal in each of the first two periods.
“Their top line is a lot of their offense,” Morin said. “So we keyed in on them and tried to keep them to the outside.”
The Crimson’s defense was also able to shut out the Raiders on all five of their power-play opportunities, including a 5-on-3 advantage.
With the win Friday, Harvard clinched home-ice advantage for the first round of the ECAC tournament.
“We enjoy playing in front of our home crowd,” Donato said, adding, “We’ve had a lot of success here.”