Just over halfway through the third period of Saturday night’s game, the No. 13 men’s hockey team put together a string of passes to get sophomores Colin Blackwell and Tommy O’Regan in front of goal. Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm made a pad save—one of 28 saves on the night—on a shot by Blackwell, and before the crowd at Bright Hockey Center could exhale in disappointment, the Bulldogs were already breaking down the ice. Crimson captain defenseman Danny Biega couldn’t get back in time and junior goalkeeper Raphael Girard was left hopeless as Yale senior Andrew Miller found junior Kenny Agostino across net for an easy goal.
“We had our chances tonight, and Malcolm came up big,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “We had a great tip play in front. Malcolm made another great save, and then they just outworked us and got a goal. They deserved to win. We’ve got to give them credit.”
Agostino’s goal put the Bulldogs (2-1-1, 1-1 ECAC) up, 4-1, and another Agostino score on the break with six seconds left to play gave Yale the 5-1 win over Harvard (2-1, 1-1) to conclude the opening weekend of conference play.
Agostino’s breaks were representative of the game on the whole, as the Crimson’s loss was marked by missed opportunities and sloppy mistakes. Agostino also registered two assists on the night.
“Quite frankly, they were a hungrier team tonight,” Donato said. “They wanted it more and it showed.... They beat us to the puck too often, and we held onto the puck too long. We’ll learn from it and admit that we need to be a lot better.”
Yale started the scoring 3:20 into the second period on a slap shot by junior Jesse Root past Girard and into the top-right corner of the net. Root and line-mate Miller kept the pressure on all night, as the Bulldogs outshot Harvard, 49-29.
“Miller was outstanding tonight,” Donato said. “He was a factor all night with his speed, he had some great passes—he was dangerous.”
Root scored again in the second period, this time at the 3:27 mark, taking an assist from Colin Dueck in front of net. There was a crowded scrum in front of Girard’s net that ended up with the puck sliding over the line for the Bulldogs’ second goal of the night.
Sophomore Trent Ruffolo scored a similar goal early in the third period to put Yale up, 3-1, and effectively out of reach.
Despite the five goals, Girard—who took over the starting job at the end of last season—continued a solid start to the new year with 44 saves.
“Girard has been exceptional so far,” Biega said. “He’s been absolutely fantastic. We can’t ask any more of him. We just have to help him on the second and third shots and cover defensively.”
Harvard thought it got on the board early after a shot by sophomore Petr Placek beat the goalie but couldn’t beat the post. It appeared to drop straight down and over the line, but an official review ruled it was not a goal.
Offensively, the power play was the team’s most powerful weapon last season. But after leading the country in power-play efficiency in 2011-12, the Crimson currently has just one power-play goal in 10 chances.
“It’s early in the season, and we’ve got to put some time and work in to figure it out,” Biega said of the power play. “We have a lot of good guys on the power play, and I think it can be as good as last year.”
Halfway through the first period, freshman Kyle Criscuolo brought the home team even after getting the puck in front of net off passes from classmate Brian Hart and sophomore Tommy O’Regan. Criscuolo collected the puck and put it into the top-left corner for his second goal of the weekend and of his young career.
“I though Criscuolo, Hart, and O’Regan, two nights in a row now, have been our best line,” Donato said after Saturday’s loss. “They had some great chances, some good fore-checking, and really went out there and played.”
This year’s freshman class was touted as the best in the ECAC, and so far it has not disappointed. Last week, freshman Jimmy Vesey was named ECAC Player of the Week, and he and Criscuolo are first and second, respectively, on the team in points. Despite their play, Donato emphasized the need for veterans to play at a higher level.
“Sure, the freshman looked good, but in games like this, you’ve got to really live on how your seniors and older guys perform,” Donato said. “Tonight, their best guys played better than our best guys.”
—Staff writer Alexander Koenig can be reached at email@example.com.