Facing No. 9 New Hampshire (UNH) for the first time since losing to the Wildcats in March in the NCAA tournament, the Harvard men’s hockey team scored an early goal and took advantage of senior goaltender John Daigneau’s second shutout of the season to escape with a 1-0 victory at the Whittemore Center last night.
Daigneau made 32 saves in the winning effort, including several crucial stops down the stretch.
He got some help from his defense as well, with the Crimson (8-5-1, 7-4-0 ECAC) blocking 11 shots.
But, at times, it just seemed as if all the luck was on Harvard’s side.
In addition to hitting the goal frame multiple times, UNH (9-5-3, 6-3-2 Hockey East) also sent a couple of shots through the crease that were just inches from crossing the goal line—including one from winger Jacob Micflikier with just seven seconds remaining in the game.
“Just one of those nights, I guess,” Daigneau said. “Things went our way.”
The only goal of the night was scored just 5:27 into the game.
With a scrum around Wildcats goaltender Kevin Regan, freshman defenseman Brian McCafferty skated in from the blue line and stuffed the rebound of junior pivot Kevin Du’s shot low into the right side netting.
But given the goal-scoring proficiency of both Harvard and UNH, neither team imagined that its skaters would not find the net for the rest of the night.
Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91, for one, was not satisfied with the 1-0 lead.
“I never think [one goal] is enough—I’m a forward,” the former Boston Bruin said, adding, “I really think we’re a team that can play with anybody, so I certainly don’t put [the team] in a mode where I think, ‘Hey, can we hold on to this?’”
Though neither team scored a goal in the second period, Harvard outplayed the Wildcats, hustling to loose pucks and earning more scoring chances.
The Crimson benefited from four UNH penalties in the period, but Harvard failed to take advantage of its power play opportunities, generating only two shots on target with the man advantage.
“I thought our team had a chance on the power play to make some plays,” Donato said, “and unfortunately we didn’t...I would have liked to see us use our speed a little bit more offensively and utilize the space available on a big ice surface.”
But the Crimson defense did its part in front of Daigneau, containing the Wildcats’ dangerous first line and holding the UNH power play scoreless in four opportunities.
The biggest penalty kill of the night came early in the third period, when the Wildcats fired several shots—including one off the crossbar and another that streaked right across the goalmouth—but couldn’t put the puck away.
UNH had its scoring chances in the final minute of the game with an extra skater on for Regan, but Daigneau and the Harvard defense held on for their most significant victory of the season.
“I was just disappointed,” Wildcats coach Dick Umile said. “Obviously, the outcome is a huge missed opportunity for us.”
—Staff writer Karan Lodha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.