The Crimson varsity hockey team traveled to Dartmouth's Rupert Thompson Arena-turned-zoo last night and wrestled a stunning 3-2 win away from the Big Green Machine. Bill Nolen's tally at 11:35 of the third period was the game-winner.
The victory was a must win for Harvard after Tuesday's dismal performance against Boston College, a loss which left them in ninth place in the ECAC standings. But win they did, as Cleary's boys did everything they didn't do Tuesday including skate for the full 60 minutes.
With Harvard completely dominating play in the first period, Dartmouth's Paul Sawyer managed to pick up a loose puck after a face-off in the Harvard end and fired a wrist-shot alone the ice past a badly screened Brian Petrovek.
The 1-0 Dartmouth lead at the end of the period made no sense at all. Harvard outshot the home team 17-5 with only the outstanding play of goalie Jeff Sollows preventing a Crimson scoring barrage.
But Sollows' performance waned just 53 seconds into the second stanza as George Hughes took a pass from brother Jack and quickly notched his 11th goal of the seasons. Sollows never moved.
At this point in the contest, Harvard suffered its only letdown. The next ten minutes saw Harvard merely going through the motions as Dartmouth repeatedly mounted offensive threats. Then, at 7:11, Paul Sawyer scored his second, and Dartmouth's last goal of the game, on a tip-in.
Rudely awakened, Harvard took full advantage of a Bob Grant penalty to score a power-play goal and deadlock the tilt once more. Jon Garrity, playing on the power-play in place of the injured Gene Purdy, was credited with the goal while assists went to George Hughes and Bill Hozack.
The score remained 2-2 until the third period.
Not enough has been said about the play of Bill Hozack. Presently the team's leading scorer with nine goals and 15 assists, Hozack's play is a big factor in Harvard's present status. Following in the footsteps of Jim Thomas and Phelps Swift, Hozack, as a senior, is making his largest contributions. But back to Dartmouth.
The third period saw superb goaltending at both ends of the ice. Dartmouth's Sollows (31 saves) and Petro (20 saves) sparkled as they repulsed shots of every sort. For Petro it was just another fine performance; for Sollows, probably the game of his life.
But games call for a winner and loser and last night was Sollows' to suffer the agony of defeat. Bill Nolen's shot, which appeared to be a misguided pass, squeezed between the goalie's left pad and the right post to serve as the margin of victory.
The win should return the Crimson to the top eight in the ECAC Division I standings. But the upcoming game against Providence in that same city on Monday night is another "must" contest.