Co-captain Jimmy Fraser was the lone bright spot for Harvard in the team’s woeful 6-2 blowout at the hands of Yale. Fraser scored a pair of goals, the senior’s third and fourth tallies of the season.
The Harvard men’s hockey team (4-11-3, 4-6-3 ECAC) could not stop Yale from maintaining its undefeated ECAC record, as poor fundamentals and a lack of focus led to a 6-2 loss against a tough Bulldogs (11-4-0, 6-2 ECAC) squad on Saturday night at Bright Hockey Center.
With Harvard’s 1989 team back in Cambridge to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Crimson’s last NCAA Championship, three Bulldog goals within the first 10 minutes of the opening period put the game out of reach.
Yale’s fast and physical team pressured the Crimson all over the ice and exposed problems with Harvard’s ability to execute the fundamentals.
“I think Yale’s speed and skill and our inability to make good plays with the puck and to skate at the same level, that was the issue for us,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said.
Yale’s Billy Blasé responded to several Crimson attacks in the second half of the first period, including one deflection that shut down a slapshot from freshman Alex Killhorn at 15:19 in the first and another that stifled junior Alex Biega from point blank range.
Yale’s defenders rushed Harvard’s offense enough to limit Harvard’s quality shots on goal in the first, though the Crimson would finish with 13 shots in the first period and 34 shots on the game.
But Yale’s hustling and scrappy defense kept the puck in the Harvard zone for most of the game and forced Crimson to rush looks and fight for the puck in the corners when the team did manage to mount attacks in the Yale zone.
The Bulldogs’ aggressive play drew seven Harvard penalties on the night, including several in the second period, interrupting the momentum that the Crimson struggled to build all night.
Yale successfully killed all six of Harvard’s power-play attempts.
“Yale’s a good team. They always play us hard, especially this year. They’re very skilled and they work hard all over the ice,” co-captain Jimmy Fraser said. “I give them credit. They outworked us. When we fell behind, they didn’t get cocky, and they didn’t get away from their game.”
Fraser scored his third and fourth goals of the season and provided the only offensive spark for Harvard all night.
His first goal put the Crimson on the scoreboard at 4:52 in the second period when Fraser fired a shot from the slot that beat Blasé on the left side inside the post.
The co-captain’s rush up the ice at the end of the third period resulted in a wrist shot that sailed past Blasé top shelf at 19:10 to add a measure of respectability to the final score.
Ultimately, finding a sense of confidence is elusive for Harvard, as the team has not won a game since Nov. 15.
“I think a lot of guys are gripping their sticks pretty tight out there and seem pretty nervous about making mistakes that might cost us some goals,” Fraser said.
The night saw Donato replace Hoyle with junior John Riley at 15:06 in the second after a turnover in the Crimson zone allowed Mark Arcobello—who also notched two assists—ample time and space to fire a wrist shot top shelf over Hoyle’s shoulders.
Riley finished with 15 saves and gave up Yale’s final goal when Brian O’Neill’s rush allowed the puck to slip over the line in a commotion that knocked down Riley in the process.
This goal only served to spark Harvard’s frustration.
The extracurriculars began with some shoving in front of Yale’s net that sent junior forward Doug Rogers and Yale’s Mark Arcobello to the locker room with 10-minute game-misconduct penalties at 16:50.
Less than three minutes later, junior Chad Morin would also take a 10-minute misconduct for a shoving match in front of the Crimson’s bench.
As the team looks towards its next game against Dartmouth on Jan. 25, Harvard hopes that history may be on the verge of repeating itself, as the reversal of the Crimson’s fortunes last season started with a win over the Big Green.
“We’ve got to play with confidence out here, and I think we have to get back to the simple game,” Fraser said.
—Staff writer Robert T. Hamlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.