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It was a game that Harvard needed to win badly for many reasons but the Golden Knights of Clarkson denied the Crimson with a 4-2 thumping at Watson Rink.
The loss left Harvard with a 6-4 ECAC record while Clarkson at 9-2 improved their hold on second place in the ECAC
Clarkson's ultimate game-winning goal came off the stick of junior Kevin Zappia at 18:15 of the second period. Zappia, streaking toward the goal behind Harvard defenseman Jim Trainor, took linemate Dan Makuch's pass from the right wing and beat Harvard goalie Brian Murphy from eight feet out.
The acrobatic Murphy displayed quick reflexes while chalking up 30 saves. The 5'8" goaltender, who was in the nets for Harvard's 4-3 victory over Notre Dame and in the 3-2 overtime defeat at the hands of number-one ranked Denver, foiled Clarkson's Dan Makuch on a breakaway scoring attempt in the second period.
This was a bad game for the Crimson to lose. Harvard's last appearance at Watson was the 7-0 disaster at the hands of Boston College and Paul Skidmore, the Eagles' All-East junior netminder. Harvard could have gained some crucial ground on B.C. after the Eagles dropped a 4-2 decision to New Hampshire Tuesday night.
The Crimson skated with intensity in the first period, trading hits with the aggressive Knights, forechecking tightly and challenging the visitors for the puck.
After Clarkson went ahead 1-0, when Craig Laughlin beat the firey Murphy with a deflection off a Terry Conroy drive from the point, the Crimson's Jack Hughes characteristically deeked two opponents and slapped a blazing shot past Clarkson's amazed freshman goalie, Ken Moore.
The first period ended at 1-1 with Clarkson out-shooting the Crimson 16-5. The Golden Knights failed to capitalized on a 5-3 man advantage with Harvard's Randy Millen (Hooked at 8:30) and Jim Trainor (high sticking at 8:44) in the penalty box. The Crimson could not cash in on two power play opportunities in the stanza.
Hughes, Jack that is, played an outstanding game. Twice while Clarkson was on the power play, the talented sophomore dumped Clarkson wing Laughlin, who was positioned with the puck at the top of the face-off circle to the right of goalie Murphy, and cleared the puck the full length of the ice.
With both teams playing at full strength, Hughes exhibited impenetrable defense, made effective clearing passes and skillfully led offensive rushes.
At 2:14 of the second period, Harvard freshman Phil Evans put Harvard in the lead at 2-1. Evans, forechecking in the Clarkson zone, stole the puck from a Clarkson defender, skated through two other Golden Knights, gave goalie Moore a shoulder fake and placed a backhander into the net.
Later in the same period, Clarkson freshman Bryan Cleaver nicely shifted by Trainor with a great puck-through-the-legs move and zinged a wrister off the goalpost. Cleaver's effort was a bit of foreshadowing. At 14:38 the rookie from Toronto floated from the right corner of the Crimson end and stuffed the puck in the far lower corner of the net past Murphy. Clarkson 2, Harvard 2.
Harvard played the first five minutes of the third period as if they were opposing fragile senior citizens. Their finess was no where to be seen. Clarkson dominated the ice, mounting all sorts of offensive pressure. Finally, the Upstate New Yorkers broke down the Crimson defense at 5:48 and tacked on an insurance tally at 5:48. A slap shot bounced off the back boards onto Laughlin's stick, and when Clarkson's junior winger had his second goal of the night, Harvard was all washed up.
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