The Harvard men’s hockey team split the final two games of its regular season over the weekend to finish second-to-last in both the ECAC and the Ivy League. On Friday, the Crimson edged out No. 16/15 Colgate, 2-1, in Hamilton, N.Y., before ceding a two-goal advantage on Saturday, losing in the final minute of overtime at No. 11/11 Cornell, 3-2.
The results set up a first-round postseason matchup next weekend in New Haven, where Harvard (10-15-4, 6-12-4 ECAC) will face the defending national champion Yale Bulldogs (15-9-5, 10-8-4) in a best-of-three series.
CORNELL 3, HARVARD 2 (OT)
Like the fish that the Lynah Rink faithful threw on the ice before the game, the Crimson was reeled in after a quick start in Ithaca, N.Y., Saturday night. Cornell junior forward Joel Lowry put back a rebound to complete a Big Red comeback from two goals down with 36 seconds to go in the extra frame.
“I feel bad for our guys because I feel they worked very hard and did a lot of good things in a very hostile environment,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91.
Harvard started quickly, racing out to a 2-0 lead with power play goals from freshmen centers Sean Malone and Alex Kerfoot in the first two frames.
A charging penalty from Lowry put the visitors on the man advantage one minute into the contest. Malone converted on a low crossing feed from sophomore linemate Brian Hart to beat Cornell senior goaltender Andy Iles on the right side of the crease for the game’s first goal.
Harvard struck on the man advantage again 11 minutes into the second period. This time, sophomore forward Kyle Criscuolo set up Kerfoot from the left wing for a one-timer in the slot that caught Iles on the wrong side of the net.
Cornell drew even before the second intermission with goals from junior forward John McCarron at 12:46 and Matt Buckles at 17:18. Outshot by wide margins in the first and third frames, the Crimson received another strong outing from sophomore goaltender Steve Michalek, who made 32 saves.
After a scoreless third period in which the Big Red outshot the visitors, 10-5, Harvard had the better of the opportunities to open the extra period, but a wraparound attempt from junior Cornell forward Cole Bardreau with under a minute to play set up Lowry for the game-winning rebound.
“Playing at Cornell is always really exciting, a lot of emotion on both sides, the crowd was really into it,” captain Dan Ford said. “Obviously losing in overtime for us is kind of tough to swallow…. But the game itself was really exciting and a fun game to play in.”
Starting sophomore defenseman Patrick McNally sat out with an upper body injury for the fourth straight game Saturday but will likely return for next weekend’s action.
HARVARD 2, COLGATE 1
Goals from senior defender Danny Fick and freshman forward Phil Zielonka propelled Harvard to a 2-1 victory at Colgate (16-12-5, 12-6-3) in the penultimate game of its regular season.
“It was an excellent road win,” Donato said. “We did a lot of little things right.”
After a scoreless second period, Zielonka broke a 1-1 stalemate less than seven minutes into the final frame of regulation. After receiving a redirected Colgate clearing attempt from sophomore linemate Greg Gozzo, Zielonka split the legs of freshman defender Brett Corkey and beat rookie goaltender Charlie Finn glove-side with a high wrist shot from just inside the right faceoff circle.
The Raiders got on the board first with a power play marker from sophomore forward Murphy Darcy with seven and a half minutes left in the opening period. Minutes later, Harvard failed to find the back of the net on an extended 5-on-3 opportunity after Colgate was whistled for consecutive penalties 36 seconds apart.
The Crimson’s tying response came from the unlikeliest of its skaters. With just over two minutes left in the first period, Fick rushed the Colgate crease and batted a crossing feed from freshman forward Luke Esposito out of the air and past Finn for the senior defender’s first career goal in 93 collegiate games. Fick's strike ended a streak of 33 straight goals scored by Crimson underclassmen.
“[Fick] made a great play to really drive the net hard,” Ford said. “Everyone was really excited for him personally and also because it was such a great play against a good Colgate team to tie the game back up for us.”
Colgate outshot Harvard, 9-2, in the third period, but Michalek finished with 33 saves to collect his fifth win of the season. The victory was the Crimson's first road win over the Raiders since 2006.
-Staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at Michael.Ledecky@thecrimson.com