Another big game, another crushing loss for the Harvard men’s hockey team.
Facing St. Lawrence (15-13-7, 9-8-5 ECAC) in a match in which it could have locked up home ice in the first round of the ECAC playoffs with a win, the Crimson (7-19-3, 7-12-3) came out flat and didn’t recover until it was too late, falling, 4-3, in Canton, N.Y.
“We’re a little disappointed,” senior forward Doug Rogers said. “It’s much easier to win at home in the playoffs.”
Harvard took the first three shots of the game, but the Saints got on the board first after freshman forward David Valek was issued a five-minute penalty for hitting from behind. St. Lawrence’s Aaron Bogosian took advantage of the five-on-four situation when he jumped on a loose puck in front of the net and put it past Harvard junior goalie Kyle Richter to give the Saints the lead at 6:48.
“That kind of swung the momentum in their favor,” Rogers said of the penalty.
Richter and the Crimson defense were able to kill the remainder of the penalty and remained solid through the rest of the first period to keep the score 1-0, despite being outshot, 19-9.
“I think overall we had a good first period, but I think the five-minute penalty made it tough to leave the period with a lead,” Rogers explained. “It can be tiring for all the penalty killers and the goaltenders.”
In the second period, things began to fall apart for Harvard. Saints forward Alex Curran hit Mike McKenzie with a pass from behind the net, and McKenzie backhanded the puck past Richter at 3:46. Just two minutes later, forward Brandon Bolig connected on a one-timer off a two-on-one rush to make the score 3-0 in favor of St. Lawrence.
At this point, Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 opted to pull Richter in favor of junior Ryan Carroll, who late in the second gave up a power-play goal to Saints defenseman George Hughes. The freshman used a screen and was able to shoot the puck past Carroll from the blueline.
Down 4-0, with its back against the wall and nothing to lose, the Crimson turned to a new strategy in attempt to get back into the game.
“I think we just [became] committed,” Rogers said. “We were desperate at that point. We started playing more offensively, taking more chances, we shot a lot more...It was a mindset. We made up our mind to throw everything to the net so guys could anticipate that and get in front of the net for rebounds.”
“We knew we had to win the game in order to get home-ice advantage,” added freshman forward Louis Leblanc. “So we emptied the tanks.”
The plan payed immediate dividends, as Leblanc was able to finally get Harvard on the board at 19:51 of the second period.
“[Sophomore] Alex Killorn chipped the puck to [junior] Michael Biega, and Michael made a great pass across the slot, past the defenseman’s stick,” Leblanc explained. “It found my stick, and I shot it low block past the goalie.”
It was the freshman’s 11th goal on the season, which leads the team.