“For the most part, we outplayed them,” senior Kevin Du said. “But they’re a very good team, and we gave them too many opportunities, and they capitalized on them.”
Entering the match with intensity, the Crimson took control of the first two periods, keeping the puck in Golden Knight territory for the early part of the game.
“The first 10 minutes of the game, we dominated play and had a couple of grade-A scoring chances,” captain Dylan Reese said. “The first game was definitely a good battle. We were in control of the game most of the time. It was just a matter of putting the puck in the net, and we didn’t do it.”
Trying to capitalize on the first power play of the night, freshman Doug Rogers passed it over to junior Mike Taylor, whose right-side shot ricocheted off the side of the net.
Clarkson quickly racked up three power-play opportunities, but Harvard effectively killed all three penalties.
Netminder Justin Tobe tallied six saves for the period.
The Golden Knights took a 1-0 lead with 9:35 left in the second period, as Clarkson’s Brodie Rutherglen picked up a blocked shot by Golden Knight Max Kolu to smack one through Tobe’s legs for the first goal of the night.
“They came down semi-two-on-one,” Reese said. “Justin played it really well. On the whole, it was a tough turnover, but at the same time, it was a lucky shot.”
Although the Crimson outshot the Knights, 18-7, in the second period, Clarkson shut down Harvard’s offensive onslaught. Off of a long pass from Reese, Taylor took a fast slap shot at the Golden Knights net, but goaltender David Leggio halted the Crimson attack.
Holding Harvard scoreless, Clarkson handed the Crimson its first shutout since a 2004 tie against Northern Michigan and its first shutout loss in 98 games.
“We had numerous chances to score, but their goalie played well, and we weren’t able to [finish],” Du said. “We had a lot of chances, and a couple of point-blank shots. It’s frustrating, considering how well we played this weekend, to lose in the quarterfinals.”
In the third period, Harvard turned on the heat, nearly tying the game off a shot from sophomore Jack Christian, whose slapshot from the high slot flew past Leggio but hit the left post.
During a Clarkson power play, the Golden Knight’s Nick Dodge capitalized on the man-advantage, finishing off the rebound from a Clarkson shot with 5:51 left in the game.
“At that point, we were playing really aggressively, so we were willing to give up something,” Reese said.
Struggling to turn the game around, the Crimson pulled Tobe for an extra skater, leaving the net unguarded. Although Du succeeded in three offensive faceoffs and Harvard made a few solid attempts to score, Leggio blocked all Crimson shots.
Soon after, the puck escaped Harvard’s grasp, and Clarkson skated down to slam in an empty-netter, clinching the Golden Knights’ victory.
“The goalie made some good saves,” Du said. “But there were a couple times when we let up on our scoring opportunities. We were just not bearing down on our opportunities.”
—Staff writer Courtney D. Skinner can be reached at email@example.com.