Harvard freshman Colin Blackwell sunk the puck into the Quinnipiac net, simultaneously crashing into the goal and dislodging it. The crowd at the Bright Hockey Center erupted in cheers at the prospect of the Crimson’s first go-ahead goal of the season-opening weekend.
But, after video review, the goal was disallowed. The Harvard men’s hockey team (0-1-1, 0-1-1 ECAC) was never able to take the lead after this crucial call, finishing the match in a 2-2 deadlock with the Bobcats (7-3-1, 1-1-1) on Saturday night.
“I thought we played well,” captain Ryan Grimshaw said. “We learned from some of our mistakes [Friday], and we picked it up. Again, we were resilient, coming from behind on both goals to tie it up. It would have been nice to get the win, but it was a step in the right direction.”
For the majority of the first period, Harvard and Quinnipiac appeared to be evenly matched.
After winning a faceoff at 14:14, the Crimson attempted six shots in the remaining minutes of the period, but Harvard failed to capitalize on these opportunities.
With less than two minutes remaining in the period, Quinnipiac junior Jeremy Langlois broke the scoreless tie with his first goal of the season. Langlois was assisted by senior Scott Zurevinski and freshman Matthew Peca.
The Crimson bounced back early in the second period.
The Harvard players passed strategically in Quinnipiac territory, allowing Harvard junior Conor Morrison to score a power-play goal just over a minute into play. Morrison was assisted by senior Alex Killorn, who won six out of six faceoff attempts leading up to the first Crimson goal.
“I thought our guys battled,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “I think after we scored the first goal, the Morrison goal, we were able to get them pinned in their zone a lot more often.”
Each team put an additional point on the board in the remainder of the second period. Crimson junior David Valek scored the game-tying goal for Harvard off of a rebounded shot.
“We want this to be one of our identities,” Valek said regarding his goal. “We want to get pucks and bodies to the net and get more of these so-called dirty goals.”
The third period and overtime play did not see any goals scored. After consistently coming from behind but failing to get ahead, the 2-2 result was a somewhat disappointing one for the Crimson team.
“We were playing to win the hockey game,” Donato said. “With 1:20 left in the third period, we called a timeout, really to rest up and get after it. In the locker room afterwards, I think our guys felt good about the effort, but I don’t think there were a lot of smiles.”
Despite the tie, there were many positive elements of the Crimson’s performance. Harvard had 25 shots on goal, nearly matching Quinnipiac’s 26. Coming off of the loss to the Tigers, the team focused on increasing its physicality and finishing its checks. Harvard’s mental game also showed improvement, particularly in response to the team’s disallowed goal.
“The game has a lot of ups and downs, especially when you play a team of [Quinnipiac’s] offensive ability,” Donato said. “Our guys are mentally starting to know what we need to do to win hockey games and be able to recover from a goal against, a bad bounce, or a bad call.”
In addition, Harvard’s defense had a strong performance. Sophomore goalie Raphael Girard had 24 saves and shut down all of Quinnipiac’s power-play opportunities. Freshman Steve Michalek started at the position the previous night in the season-opener, demonstrating that the goalie job may still be up for grabs.
“I think Raphael was excellent tonight, he came up with two huge saves,” Donato said. “We have two great goalies, and we want to get to the point where both of them can come in and win hockey games. I hope they will push each other, and that our team will be able to perform well in front of them.”
With its first two official games under its belt, the Crimson will take on Cornell and Colgate next weekend at home. The team seeks to define and unite itself with each additional game.
“Whenever you start the season, you are pushing to create a team identity,” Donato said. “I think we made a positive step towards that on Saturday night.”