Men's Hockey Falls To Princeton In Overtime
For the second time in two nights, Harvard faced a 1-1 deadlock after 60 minutes of regulation. But this time, the Crimson found itself on the wrong end of a back-door overtime winner.
A day after upsetting the No. 1 team in the country in overtime, the Harvard men’s hockey team fell to Princeton, 2-1, off a sudden-death strike from junior forward Andrew Calof. With the loss, the Crimson (9-17-3, 6-14-2 ECAC) concludes the ECAC regular season in last place for the first time in program history and will travel to No. 18 Dartmouth for the first round of the conference tournament next weekend.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “I give Princeton a lot of credit; they had the better of shots. We had a lot of great chances, great looks, but we didn’t play our best game by any means.”
With just over a minute left in the extra frame, Princeton coach Bob Prier pulled senior goaltender Mike Condon for an extra attacker after a timeout. The Tigers (10-14-5, 8-10-4) needed a win to clinch home ice for the first round of the ECAC tournament.
On the ensuing faceoff in the Harvard zone, it appeared that the gamble would backfire. After the Crimson came away with the puck, freshman Kyle Criscuolo launched a cross-rink shot. But the play ended in icing as the attempt sailed past the unguarded cage by several feet.
Seconds later, Prier’s bet paid off. With less than 40 ticks left, senior defenseman Michael Sdao found an open Andrew Calof on the far right post with a tape-to-tape cross from the point.
Princeton dominated the shot totals early with three power play opportunities in the first. But the Crimson escaped with a 1-0 lead off a shorthanded goal from senior forward Alex Fallstrom.
Senior forward Luke Greiner won a defensive faceoff and pushed the puck up ice before setting up his classmate for a breakaway. Fallstrom, who had the overtime winner over No. 1 Quinnipiac the previous night, found the back of the net on a nifty backhander.
“I think our penalty kill is really strong, so we came out of those situations really well,” Fallstrom said. “We didn’t let those [penalties] bring us down. That was a really good sign.”
Less than nine minutes into the second period, Sdao evened things at one apiece for the Tigers. The defender’s strike came from just inside the blue line through traffic.
In the final frame of regulation, Princeton unsuccessfully crashed the Harvard net several times. Girard stood tall between the pipes, recording 16 of his 45 saves in the third period.
The Tigers finished the night with a 47-29 advantage in the shot department. The win allowed Princeton to leapfrog over Clarkson and Cornell in the ECAC standings for the No. 8 playoff seed.
Harvard will open tournament play Friday evening for the first of a best-of-three weekend series in Hanover, N.H. The Crimson lost to Dartmouth on the road, 3-2, on Jan. 12 before tying the Big Green, 1-1, at home on Feb. 10.
“[Dartmouth is] a very good team. We’ve had two really tight games with them so far,” Donato said. “We’ll be excited about the playoffs, and that’s a great match-up.”
After the game, Harvard recognized the team’s six graduating players as part of its Senior Night festivities. The overtime loss marked the final NCAA-sanctioned game at the Bright Hockey Center for Fallstrom, Greiner, captain Danny Biega, Marshall Everson, Conor Morrison, and Brendan Rempel.
“They’re a special group. They really carried the locker room through some tough times this year. They kept everything positive and worked real hard,” Donato said. “As a coach, you get very attached to them. They’re great teammates, great people to coach and to be around. I’m very proud of how far they’ve come, both on and off the ice, and I’m excited heading into the playoffs because of the kind of character they have and the way they were able to play last year.”
—Staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mdledecky.