One official’s arm went up. Then another’s. In the blink of an eye, the Harvard men’s hockey team faced a two-minute 5-on-3 penalty kill midway through the final frame of a one-goal game at Union College.
The Dutchmen power play unit capitalized for the second time on the night to open up a two-goal advantage. No. 19 Union (12-8-4, 6-4-3 ECAC) would strike twice more in the final 12 minutes as the Crimson (5-11-1, 3-9-0 ECAC) lost its fourth straight, 4-1.
Down 1-0 with 12:24 remaining in the third period, Harvard was whistled for two minors as senior forward Marshall Everson went to the box for hooking and classmate Luke Greiner joined him for high sticking.
“It was really weird,” senior forward Alex Fallstrom said of the simultaneous penalties. “It kind of came as a surprise to me because I didn’t really see what happened, but it was unfortunate and really hurt us in the game.”
Union quickly capitalized on the opportunity, winning the next faceoff in Harvard’s zone and looping fifteen passes around the three Crimson defenders before senior forward Wayne Simpson tapped one in from close range to put the home team up by a pair.
“[Union] moved the puck well and obviously took advantage of that five-on-three,” Fallstrom said. “That was the turning point of the game.”
The Dutchman forecheck pressured Harvard from start to finish. Union directed more shots on net than the Crimson in each period for an overall advantage of 38 to 23.
The two teams remained scoreless after the first period as Harvard failed to convert on its only two power plays of the night. But the Crimson defense only yielded a few early opportunities to the Dutchmen.
“We started out more structured overall, which helped me a lot in the defensive zone,” said junior Crimson goaltender Raphael Girard, who had 34 saves on the night.
“I think we were really playing sound defensively for the first 40 minutes or so,” Fallstrom added.
With less than four minutes remaining in the second, sophomore forward Max Novak put Union on the score sheet after a holding minor on Harvard forward Ryan McGregor provided the Dutchmen their third power play of the night. Union junior defender Mat Bodie fed the puck to Novak, who slung a shot from the top of the slot past a screen by freshman linemate Matt Wilkins.
“Starting in the second period, we took many penalties that ended up being momentum changers and allowed [Union] to spend a lot of time in our zone,” Girard said. “They got some scoring chances off of that and capitalized at the right moment.”
In the final frame, Harvard managed to kill the remainder of the Union power play following Simpson’s goal.
Less than two minutes after the Crimson returned to full strength, a rare icing from the Dutchmen provided Harvard one of its few chances of the night.
Center Collin Blackwell won the faceoff to Jimmy Vesey, who launched a wrister inside the circle before Union goalie Troy Grosenick could locate the puck.