The Crimson varsity hockey team skated into the ECAC finals last night by rallying with three third-period goals to exterminate Cornell's rabid icemen, 6-4, at Boston Garden.
Steve Dagdigian collected the game winner on a power play at 12:48 of the final stanza after Ted Thorndike had knotted the score in the opening minutes of the last period.
The victory provides Harvard's skaters with an opportunity to avenge their Beanpot loss to Boston University earlier this year. The Crimson, now assured a trip to the NCAAs, faces the Terriers tonight in the Garden to determine who is best in the East.
Harvard's icemen enjoyed the first solid scoring chance of the game when they held a five-on-three advantage for 56 seconds early in the opening period. They failed to capitalize on the two men-up situation, however, and midway through the stanza Cornell seized the initiative by collecting two quick goals.
Junior Bill Weber gave the Big Red a 2-0 lead, scoring on a close in rebound at 8-56 and then tallying on a backhander 35 seconds later from midway between the crease corner and the right face-off circle.
Cornell proved unable to guard its two goal edge for long as Harvard raffied in the last five minutes of the period to even the score. Randy Roth garnered Harvard's first on a perfect power play pattern, using Jim Thomas and Ed Rossi on the points.
The second Harvard goal came with 52 seconds remaining in the stanza, as Dagidgian, hanging on the left corner of the crease, tipped the puck over defenseless netminder Dave Chrastina, Jim McMahon, hovering on the side of the crease, assisted on the play.
Cornell and the Crimson traded three goals within 61 seconds to highlight the second period, which ended with Harvard trailing, 4-3. Big Red forward Jim Vaughan tallied first by hooking a rebound around goalie Brian Petrovek while Harvard was skating two men down.
Kevin Carr answered back with a shorthanded goal 21 seconds later as he and Roth took advantage of a two-on-one break. Cornell regained the lead within 40 seconds when Petrovek made the initial stick save on a Vaughan shot, but the puck dribbled through for a goal.
The Crimson pressed at the start of the final stanza, and within two minutes Thorndike had tied the score at 4-4. Thorndike beat Chrastina with a high slap shot, assisted by sophomore Bill Hozack who skated while Thomas rested.
The turning-point for Harvard came at 11:48, when referee Giles Threadgold called the Big Red's John Martin for interference Dagdigian scored one minute into the penalty, assisted by Thomas and Rossi, as Harvard took the lead for the first time, never to relinquish it.
Dagdigian, moments after being robbed by a fine Charastina glove save, tipped the puck home down the center of the crease from just in front of the net.
Harvard killed a penalty with five minutes remaining, and Cornell strove for a final chance when coach Dick Bertrand pulled Chrastina at 19.05. The Big Red could not beat Petrovek, and with one second left Harvard's Dave Gauthier flipped the puck the length of the ice into an open net to close out the contest at 6-4.
The Crimson missed the services of Thomas, its second leading scorer, for the middle period, after a Dagdigian backhander caught him just above the left eye. Thomas took seven stitches above the temple and then returned to action for the final stanza.