Going into the season, one of the biggest questions for Harvard men’s hockey was its goalie situation. In the first few games of the year, sophomore Raphael Girard and freshman Steve Michalek have split time in the net, and neither was able to set himself apart from the other in goal.
After a solid performance against a ranked Quinnipiac team last week—the Crimson tied its ECAC opponent 2-2—Girard won the start in goal on Friday night.
But against Cornell (2-2-0, 2-1-0 ECAC) at the Bright Hockey Center, he could not keep Harvard (0-2-1, 0-2-1) close, surrendering three goals in the first 10 minutes of the game before coming out at the start of the second period.
“It was a tough call, but [starting Girard] was a decision we made,” Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “Then, after the first, I thought … we needed a little bit of a change, [a] momentum change for ourselves.”
Despite his success earlier this year, Girard was hurt by a weakened Harvard defense. Cornell scored its second goal in a 5-on-3 situation, and 56 seconds later scored again on the power play. The Crimson’s penalty kill struggled, as the Big Red scored in two of its four chances with a one- or two-man advantage.
Cornell dominated possession time in the first period, taking 18 shots in the frame. Harvard managed only three.
“[Girard] was solid last weekend, and he earned the start [on Friday],” Michalek said. “I really thought he played well tonight. They really took it to us in the first period with that power play, and that’s how it’s going to be all season, going back-and-forth [and] competing for playing time.”
When Michalek came into the game, Harvard reversed the pace of the contest. The Crimson outshot Cornell in the second and third periods by a 17-8 margin, but the team never recovered from the Big Red’s three early goals.
“It’s always tough coming off the bench after just sitting there,” Michalek said. “My mindset was just [to] do whatever you can to keep your team in the game.”
In addition to defensive struggles early on, Harvard was hit hard with penalties in the first period. Just under seven minutes into the game, senior forward Alex Killorn was hit with a major penalty near the Harvard goal for grasping the facemask.
After a minor confrontation on the ice, play was stopped for a few minutes as the referees broke up the fight and discussed the penalty situation.
In addition to the five-minute penalty kill—a time frame during which Cornell scored twice—Killorn was given a game misconduct, removing him for the rest of the evening.
Already down 1-0 when Killorn was ejected and down 3-0 just minutes later, his absence was a major blow to the team’s chances. Coming into the game, the senior forward had scored two of the Crimson’s five goals and had assisted on a third.
“My overall version of the play was, quite frankly, I thought it was an embellishment,” Donato said. “It’s always difficult in a big game to have a five-minute penalty kill. Add the fact that [Killorn] happens to be, from my estimation, one of the best hockey players in the league, and it makes for a more difficult night.”