Ice hockey games last 60 minutes, but the way events transpired on Saturday, the Harvard men’s hockey team’s contest at Dartmouth’s Thompson Arena was won during a six-minute stretch. From 12:39 to 18:15 in the first period, the Big Green (6-3-1, 5-2-1 ECAC) put the game away by building a 4-0 lead over the Crimson (2-6-0, 2-6-0). Dartmouth ultimately earned a 5-2 victory.
“It was a tough one,” co-captain Chris Huxley said. “We didn’t play our best this weekend.”
“I think as a team we were frustrated with the way we performed,” junior Alex Killorn added. “We played pretty well in the second and third period, but the lead [Dartmouth] amounted in the first seemed insurmountable.”
With the loss, Harvard extended its losing streak to five games. The defeat capped a season sweep of the Crimson by the Big Green, which outscored Harvard, 13-4, over two games this weekend. It was Dartmouth’s first season sweep of the Crimson since 1995-96.
Early in the first period, the squads found themselves in an even battle. But late in the period, the Big Green took control of the game and dominated play. Dartmouth outshot Harvard, 24-4, in the frame.
The first goal of the game came 13 minutes in, when Adam Estoclet scored on a power play created by junior Ryan Grimshaw’s interference penalty. With disorder in front of net, Dartmouth’s Estoclet controlled the puck off a rebound and slotted it past senior goaltender Ryan Carroll.
Four minutes later, the Big Green extended its lead with a goal from Matthew Lindblad. With the two-goal advantage, Dartmouth took a firm grasp of the game’s momentum, and things began to fall apart for the Crimson.
Over the next 90 seconds, Harvard let in two more goals. After positioning himself in front of the Crimson crease, Nick Walsh got his stick on a teammate’s shot, redirecting it around Carroll. Scott Fleming then capitalized on a Harvard turnover and sent a slapshot between the pipes.
Up 4-0, the Big Green had put the game out of reach for the Crimson, which has not scored more than four goals in a game this season.
“After they scored that first goal, I think we went into a shell, kind of,” Killorn said. “We didn’t really take it well. It’s something that happened to us against Quinnipiac, and we’re still trying to figure that out.”
In the second and third periods, Harvard reorganized defensively and began to establish an attack. The Crimson edged Dartmouth, 29-18, in shots in the final two frames and outscored the Big Green, 2-1.
“We just tried to simplify it a little bit,” Huxley said. “Shoot everything on net.”
Harvard’s first goal of the contest came on a power play 5:35 into the second period, when senior Matt McCollem, who led the squad with six shots, found the back of the net. The scoring play began when junior Daniel Moriarty received a pass from Killorn and sent the puck on net. Dartmouth goalie James Mello, who made 31 saves, blocked the shot, but McCollem cleaned up the rebound.
Both the Crimson and the Big Green went 1-for-4 on the power play.
At the end of the second, Dartmouth extended its lead to 5-1. Blueliner Evan Stephens converted a long-range shot that found its way through the Harvard defense.
In the last minute of the game, freshman Dan Ford added a goal for Crimson. The defenseman’s first tally of his collegiate career came off assists from Moriarty and sophomore Conor Morrison. In his first start of the year, Carroll made 37 saves.
“[Carroll] played well,” Huxley said. “We didn’t really give him the support that he needed.”
Heading into the last two weeks of the semester, Harvard will look to put the brakes on its current skid. But history will not be on the Crimson’s side. Over the past three seasons, Harvard is 2-11-1 in the month of December. The Crimson currently sits second-to-last in the ECAC, ahead of winless Colgate.
“We’ve just got to come out from the beginning of the game ready to compete,” Huxley said. “That’s pretty much what it comes down to.”
—Staff writer Jake I. Fisher can be reached at email@example.com.