We all know that nothing (and we're talking zilch) has come easy for the Harvard hockey team this year, but they really went out and proved it last night in their 4-3 win over Dartmouth at Ruppert Thompson Arena in bucolic Hanover.
Leading by the one-goal margin with just under five minutes remaining, George Hughes jousted Dartmouth's Barry Ryan with his stick after Ryan had hooked him on a breakaway. Hughes was assessed a five-minute major penalty for highsticking, and Harvard was forced to play short-handed and short-a-Hughes for the rest of the game.
But the Big Green ran into a masked and padded wall by the name of John Hynes, who culminated his sterling 32-save performance with six or seven stops in the last few short-manned minutes, to give Harvard its first victory in 22 days and five games
The win also kept the Crimson's ever-flickering chances for an ECAC playoff berth still lit. Harvard must beat B.U. tonight in the Beanpot finals and Yale Saturday night, while Providence must lose to Boston College on Friday for post-season to be something other than flaming jelly-beans at Jack's.
George's axe-wielding aside, it was the Brothers Hughes best game in many a moon. Both sibs notched a goal and assist on the night, with Jackie getting the eventual winner at 7:12 of the final period.
With Harvard leading 3-2 and trying to regroup and reestablish itself after a lackadaisical second period, George and Jack combined with freshman Bobby McDonald on a three-man break. When George's shot was stopped by Dartmouth goalie Bob Gaudette, Jack was right there to flip the rebound in.
That left the icemen breathing easy, until a 60-ft. slapshot goal by the Green's Fub Grant at 14:38 and a major penalty to Hughes had them huffing and puffing to try and pull out the win. Thanks to Hynes, some inspired play by the defense, and a lot of pesky forechecking by Murray Dea, they did just that.
Like the last five contests, it was all Harvard in the opening stanza, and that had to have one worrying right off. The Crimson hit on half its shots in the first and took a 3-0 lead after one.
A textbook 3-on-2 break, two things that have been missing of late (3-on-2 breaks and textbooks), got Harvard its first goal with only 1:59 gone in the game.
It was John Cochrane's ninth of the season, as the classy junior converted centerman Rick Benson's backhand pass into a flip shot goal from 2 feet out, punctuating the well-fed break into the Dartmouth zone by the Cochrane-Benson-and Phil Evans threesome.
Exactly nine minutes later, Dea scored Harvard's second on a virtually empty net, as center Steve Andrews pump-faked Gaudette totally out of position before sliding it over to his left wing for an easy backhand.
George Hughes closed out the first period scoring with his 17th tally of the year (high on the club).
Seventeen seconds after Paul Sawyer had gone off the ice for tripping, the Harvard powerplay got the one it didn't get at Yale, as the elder Hughes scored after saves on Jackie and McDonald.
Then, in unfortunate recent fashion, Harvard closed up shop for the middle period, and had it not been for Hynes and a few wide shots. Dartmouth would have had more than the two quick goals scored by Mark Miles and Rick Mellum at 8:47 and 9:24, respectively.
But axed were the Woodsmen, and now it's on to the Beanpot tonight with a little more in mind than defending a championship.
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