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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Despite leaving the Dunkin’ Donuts Center with a DVD player for each player, not to mention all coaches and staff, the Harvard men’s hockey team had a disappointing post-holiday weekend in the first ever Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Pot Tournament.
The Crimson left Providence last night with one point in two games after a close 6-4 loss to No. 10 St. Cloud State and a 3-3 tie against familiar foe Clarkson, despite being ideally positioned for the win in both.
“We had a pretty good showing in terms of effort, we just had a lot of breakdowns mentally,” senior forward Tim Pettit said. “And every time that happened they seemed to capitalize on it.”
The ‘they’ in this case stands for both the Huskies and the Golden Knights; St. Cloud rallied from three separate one-goal deficits before pulling away from Harvard in the third period, and Clarkson rebounded from two gaps before forcing the tie late in regulation. The Crimson’s third period struggles dropped it to 1-4-1 in its last six games, and sends the team into the New Year and Friday and Saturday’s games against Union and RPI on a down note.
St. Cloud went on to win the tournament, beating Providence 6-1 in the championship game on Sunday night.
“Ultimately, [the weekend] didn’t end up the way we wanted it to,” assistant captain Tyler Kolarik said.
Harvard 3, Clarkson 3 (OT)
Sunday night’s consolation game against Clarkson was, at once, frustrating and encouraging for the Crimson; frustrating because the team was unable to preserve two leads, including one late in the third period, yet encouraging because Sunday’s effort—if not the result—represented a leap forward for Harvard.
"I thought our team played exceptional,” Crimson coach Mark Mazzoleni said. “I'm not happy with a tie. I thought we deserved better than that. We did everything we could. If we keep working like that, it's going to turn for us. I don't have any question on that."
Kolarik agreed, saying he thought that against Clarkson “everyone played hard.”
“A couple of bounces here or there…maybe we would’ve come out on top,” he added.
One bounce that certainly did go Harvard’s way occurred early in the third period. With senior Dennis Packard in the box for high-sticking, junior center Tom Cavanagh gave the Crimson a 3-2 lead on a beautiful short-handed goal.
Cavanagh, closely pursued, led a strong rush into the zone and fired a shot on net. Clarkson goaltender Dustin Traylen made a nice save, but became entangled with his teammate Chris Blight and Kolarik, both of whom had charged the net looking for a rebound.
The puck squirted loose as all three players became entangled at the top of the crease, and Cavanagh retrieved the rebound—his momentum following the first shot had carried him around the net—before back-handing a shot into the top of the net, giving Harvard the 3-2 lead.
That advantage held for almost 12 minutes, until 13:41 of the third, when Clarkson forward John Sullivan dropped a shot past Crimson junior goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris who—like Traylen on Cavangh’s short-handed goal—had been knocked prone by his own defenseman, junior Noah Welch.
With the score knotted at three, the teams skated relatively evenly for the last six minutes of regulation and through the five minutes of overtime.
Cavanagh, near the mid-mark in the first had given Harvard a 2-1 lead after poking home a loose puck, but the Golden Knights tied the score in the second on a beautiful move by Jay Latulippe, who faked a shot to Grumet-Morris’s left and then glided across the crease and stuffed the puck into the net on Grumet-Morris’s right.
St. Cloud State 6, Harvard 4
While Latulippe’s tying goal in the second period was a spectacular individual play, neither the Golden Knights nor the Huskies saw the best performance of Grumet-Morris, the Crimson’s most consistent contributor for late November and December.
St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl said that he thought Harvard’s goaltender “might have been off” during Friday night’s game when he allowed five goals on only 40 shots.
“Maybe it was fortunate for us we caught him on an off night,” Dahl said.
And while it is certainly true that Saturday’s game was not the junior’s best, Mazzoleni though that Grumet-Morris wasn’t the only problem the Crimson encountered.
“You can’t fault Dov; he’s been very, very good,” Mazzoleni said.
The same could not be said for both teams’ performances coming off an extended holiday layoff, and the play seemed to reflect that, according to Dahl.
“The goalies were a little rusty, there were a couple of clunkers that went in, there were some tips, and all that stuff,” he said.
Where Dahl saw rust on both sides of the ice, Mazzoleni saw the Crimson’s failure to execute.
“It was an up and down game, and when we had to answer the call in the third period, we didn’t get it done,” Mazzoleni said.
The “call” came early on in the third period; both Harvard and the Huskies emerged after the second intermission with three goals. Welch put the Crimson up 4-3 after he fired a hard and accurate shot from the left boards that passed perfectly between St. Cloud goaltender Adam Coole’s left shoulder and the cross-bar.
That lead—Harvard’s third of the game after going up 1-0 and 2-1—didn’t last long. Just over two minutes later, St. Cloud’s Andy Lundbohm scored amidst a mess of bodies around Grumet-Morris to tie the score. The Huskies’ Justin Fletcher then added the game-winning goal at 11:22 with a hard shot he fired from between the face-off circles; Grumet-Morris was in position to make the stop but could not, and the puck dribbled between his legs to give the Huskies a 5-4 lead.
“We let prosperity go right through our hands,” Mazzoleni said.
Or through the pads, in the case of Fletcher’s goal. St. Cloud added an empty-net insurance goal with seven seconds remaining, and ended the Crimson’s thoughts of an upset.
—Staff writer Timothy M. McDonald can be reached at email@example.com.
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