FACEOFF 2005-2006: One Last Chance

It’s been a rocky road for senior netminder John Daigneau, but things finally seem to be going right

Joseph L. Abel

After three years backing up Dov Grumet-Morris ’05, John Daigneau finally gets a chance to start between the Crimson pipes. Hockey’s fun again—he hasn’t been able to say that for some time—and he’s notched two wins in two starts.

Somehow, as he waited in the wings, Harvard goaltender John Daigneau lost sight of the stage. He wasn’t having any fun as a perpetual backup, and trips to the rink had become chores. Daigneau wanted out.

He tried and failed to transfer—another entry in his sophomore-year diary of things gone wrong—and so he returned for his junior season, another spent behind engaging starter Dov Grumet-Morris ’05.

And then it struck Daigneau: "I was just going to have to live with it."

"If Dov played every game, I was going to have to live with it, because all I could do was control how I played and how I reacted."

Which makes what’s happening now, in his senior season, all the sweeter.

* * *

The last good chance Diagneau saw was nearly two years ago, on Nov. 14, 2003.

He was a sophomore, Grumet-Morris a junior, and then-coach Mark Mazzoleni opened the season with a declaration of goalie rotation: "We’re going to find out if we have two kids that are capable of being No. 1s, or if one versus the other is going to take control of the situation."

The pair traded off the first three starts, and then came Nov. 14: Princeton at home, Daigneau’s turn.

Harvard led 2-0 with 13 minutes remaining, but the Tigers pushed three quick goals past Daigneau—they tacked on a fourth, an empty-netter, after the goalie retreated to the bench—and the Crimson lost, 4-2.

The next night, as if on cue, Grumet-Morris shut out Yale.

"He gave us the kind of goaltending we needed," Mazzoleni said after the game. Grumet-Morris went on to start 30 of Harvard’s 31 remaining contests, leading the team to an ECAC postseason championship and the NCAA tournament. Daigneau got to watch a lot of hockey.

He speaks about the whole year with cool perspective now, but it was nearly impossible to do so at the time. Grumet-Morris was racking up stellar statistics, but "during sophomore year, I had a really tight grasp on my identity," Daigneau says. "I was a hockey player, and I kind of forgot about everything else."