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Crimson Stops Slide Into ECAC Cellar With 6-3 Victory; MacDonald Records First Harvard Hat Trick of '96-'97 Season

By Shira A. Springer

While Shakespeare warned, "Beware the Ides of March," the final day of February had ECAC hockey pundits and travel-weary players waiting anxiously. Dartmouth  3 Harvard  6

This season the ECAC has been marked by parity with first place and playoff spots remaining to be decided in the final weekend of regular-season play.

Last night, the Harvard men's hockey team (9-16-2, 8-10-2 ECAC) secured a Tuesday night home playoff game with a 6-3 victory over Dartmouth (10-15-2, 5-13-2).

With the prospect of playing a preliminary round game seven hours away from the friendly confines of Bright Hockey Center, the Crimson knew it was crucial to come out of the weekend with at least two points.

"It's quite a relief [to be playing at home]," sophomore forward Craig MacDonald, who earned his first career Harvard hat trick, said. "That's all we wanted. We accomplished our first goal and we'll take it from there."

Two MacDonald tallies in the first period opened up an early Harvard lead.

Seven minutes into the first period, MacDonald intercepted an errant pass which appeared to slip off the blade of a Dartmouth defender's stick. MacDonald found himself all alone in front of the net with the puck, placing it past goalie Eric Almon for a power play goal.

Ten minutes later, MacDonald scored again off a feed from sophomore winger Robbie Millar. Millar sped up the ice from just inside the neutral zone into the middle of the right face-off circle, splitting two defensemen in the process.

Millar eyed MacDonald at the far post and sent the puck across to his diving linemate. The outstretched MacDonald got just enough of the pass to sent it over the goal line.

"When we get goals early, it does wonders for our confidence," Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni said.

"It's nice to play with a lead," freshman defenseman Matt Scorsune added. "You've got leeway, comfort."

Henry Higdon continued the Crimson scoring barrage less than three minutes into the second period, increasing the buffer zone between the Crimson and the Big Green to three goals. The junior forward let loose a blast from just inside the blue line to beat the Dartmouth netminder.

Less than a minute after Higdon's goal, Dartmouth would finally put itself on the scoreboard. A shot initially taken from the blue line was tipped in by Big Green forward John Sturgis. Sturgis beat a screened J.R. Prestifilippo on the power-play, narrowing Harvard's lead to 3-1.

Harvard captain Ashlin Halfnight then went on the offensive to score his sixth goal of the season, this one unassisted. Halfnight broke down the right side of the ice, cut in front of the goal and then backhanded the puck past Almon.

"Halfnight's fourth goal was a big goal for us," Tomassoni said. "It was a great individual effort. He got slashed. He got high-sticked and still got it in."

Dartmouth would pull within two goals at the start of the third period on a tally by forward David Whitworth, but would get no closer as the Crimson matched the Big Green, goal for goal late in the game.

At 14:05, junior Ethan Philpott rushed up the ice, skated in back of the goal and passed the puck to Jeremiah McCarthy, who was positioned just inside the left face-off circle. McCarthy fired a shot on goal and senior forward Joe Craigen picked up the rebound at the right post and put the puck behind the Dartmouth goaltender.

The Big Green would counter with a six-on-three power play goal in the final minute of the final period.

Then, literally to cap off the evening, MacDonald scored an empty-netter with 16 seconds remaining, earning the first hat trick this season by a Harvard player.

MacDonald retrieved the puck from behind the net, curled it around the right post and tucked it into the net.

"I was at the right place at the right time tonight--all three times," MacDonald said.

"It's nice for him to get three goals," Tomassoni said. "It should be a big boost to his confidence. He's played well all season long, it's just that the numbers haven't been there."

With six goals on the night and enough points to guarantee a home playoff game on Tuesday, the Crimson, as a team, finally has the numbers, too.

The Ides of March may have been cruel to Caesar, but March 15 could be kind to Harvard if it finds itself in Lake Placid.

First Period

Har--MacDonald 4 (unassisted), 7:09 (PP).

Har--MacDonald 5 (Millar), 17:17.

Second Period

Har--Higdon 4 (Sproule, McCarthy), 2:19.

Dar--Sturgis 18 (Hughes, Dumas), 3:28 (PP).

Har--Halfnight 6 (Millar), 6:13.

Third Period

Dar--Whitworth 16 (Risk), 1:05

Har--Craigen 5 (McCarthy, Philpott), 14:05.

Dar--Dumas 2 (Hughes, Whitworth), 1915 (5x3).

Har--MacDonald 6 (Craigen), 19:44 (SH-EN).

Saves: Dar--Almon 6-12-13-31; Har--

Prestifilippo 10-7-11-28.

Power Play: Dar--2/7; Har--1/4.

Attendance: 2,819. HARVARD, 6-3 at Bright Hockey Center Dartmouth  0  1  2  --  3 Harvard  2  2  2  --  6

This season the ECAC has been marked by parity with first place and playoff spots remaining to be decided in the final weekend of regular-season play.

Last night, the Harvard men's hockey team (9-16-2, 8-10-2 ECAC) secured a Tuesday night home playoff game with a 6-3 victory over Dartmouth (10-15-2, 5-13-2).

With the prospect of playing a preliminary round game seven hours away from the friendly confines of Bright Hockey Center, the Crimson knew it was crucial to come out of the weekend with at least two points.

"It's quite a relief [to be playing at home]," sophomore forward Craig MacDonald, who earned his first career Harvard hat trick, said. "That's all we wanted. We accomplished our first goal and we'll take it from there."

Two MacDonald tallies in the first period opened up an early Harvard lead.

Seven minutes into the first period, MacDonald intercepted an errant pass which appeared to slip off the blade of a Dartmouth defender's stick. MacDonald found himself all alone in front of the net with the puck, placing it past goalie Eric Almon for a power play goal.

Ten minutes later, MacDonald scored again off a feed from sophomore winger Robbie Millar. Millar sped up the ice from just inside the neutral zone into the middle of the right face-off circle, splitting two defensemen in the process.

Millar eyed MacDonald at the far post and sent the puck across to his diving linemate. The outstretched MacDonald got just enough of the pass to sent it over the goal line.

"When we get goals early, it does wonders for our confidence," Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni said.

"It's nice to play with a lead," freshman defenseman Matt Scorsune added. "You've got leeway, comfort."

Henry Higdon continued the Crimson scoring barrage less than three minutes into the second period, increasing the buffer zone between the Crimson and the Big Green to three goals. The junior forward let loose a blast from just inside the blue line to beat the Dartmouth netminder.

Less than a minute after Higdon's goal, Dartmouth would finally put itself on the scoreboard. A shot initially taken from the blue line was tipped in by Big Green forward John Sturgis. Sturgis beat a screened J.R. Prestifilippo on the power-play, narrowing Harvard's lead to 3-1.

Harvard captain Ashlin Halfnight then went on the offensive to score his sixth goal of the season, this one unassisted. Halfnight broke down the right side of the ice, cut in front of the goal and then backhanded the puck past Almon.

"Halfnight's fourth goal was a big goal for us," Tomassoni said. "It was a great individual effort. He got slashed. He got high-sticked and still got it in."

Dartmouth would pull within two goals at the start of the third period on a tally by forward David Whitworth, but would get no closer as the Crimson matched the Big Green, goal for goal late in the game.

At 14:05, junior Ethan Philpott rushed up the ice, skated in back of the goal and passed the puck to Jeremiah McCarthy, who was positioned just inside the left face-off circle. McCarthy fired a shot on goal and senior forward Joe Craigen picked up the rebound at the right post and put the puck behind the Dartmouth goaltender.

The Big Green would counter with a six-on-three power play goal in the final minute of the final period.

Then, literally to cap off the evening, MacDonald scored an empty-netter with 16 seconds remaining, earning the first hat trick this season by a Harvard player.

MacDonald retrieved the puck from behind the net, curled it around the right post and tucked it into the net.

"I was at the right place at the right time tonight--all three times," MacDonald said.

"It's nice for him to get three goals," Tomassoni said. "It should be a big boost to his confidence. He's played well all season long, it's just that the numbers haven't been there."

With six goals on the night and enough points to guarantee a home playoff game on Tuesday, the Crimson, as a team, finally has the numbers, too.

The Ides of March may have been cruel to Caesar, but March 15 could be kind to Harvard if it finds itself in Lake Placid.

First Period

Har--MacDonald 4 (unassisted), 7:09 (PP).

Har--MacDonald 5 (Millar), 17:17.

Second Period

Har--Higdon 4 (Sproule, McCarthy), 2:19.

Dar--Sturgis 18 (Hughes, Dumas), 3:28 (PP).

Har--Halfnight 6 (Millar), 6:13.

Third Period

Dar--Whitworth 16 (Risk), 1:05

Har--Craigen 5 (McCarthy, Philpott), 14:05.

Dar--Dumas 2 (Hughes, Whitworth), 1915 (5x3).

Har--MacDonald 6 (Craigen), 19:44 (SH-EN).

Saves: Dar--Almon 6-12-13-31; Har--

Prestifilippo 10-7-11-28.

Power Play: Dar--2/7; Har--1/4.

Attendance: 2,819. HARVARD, 6-3 at Bright Hockey Center Dartmouth  0  1  2  --  3 Harvard  2  2  2  --  6

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