The tournament elimination effectively ended the Crimson’s season, as Harvard’s sub-.500 non-conference record essentially precludes any possibility of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson had made it to the NCAA Tournament five seasons in a row.
“Everybody can say that we left everything out there, there’s no doubt about that,” senior goaltender Justin Tobe said. “But in the end, we weren’t able to get a few bounces.”
“We battled really hard, one of our best games on the year,” captain Dylan Reese added. “We really deserved to win.”
After Clarkson jumped out to a lead halfway through the first period on the power play, Harvard tied the score in the second frame, capitalizing on a man-advantage opportunity of its own.
Junior Mike Taylor was able to net the rebound off of a shot by senior Ryan Maki to pull the teams even.
Taylor, however, was unable to replicate the performance later when handed a golden opportunity. Golden Knights defenseman Grant Clitsome’s takedown of Taylor as the winger was on a breakaway set Taylor up for a penalty shot.
But, like the rest of his teammates throughout the night, the forward was unable to find a way past Leggio.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating for us,” Tobe said of his counterpart’s standout performance. “Our team worked hard, but their goalie played well.”
The Crimson was able to continue applying pressure for much of the third period, but it was the Golden Knights who broke through for the game-winner. Clarkson’s David Cayer sent a pass off the body of teammate Mike Sullivan and past Tobe for the score that eventually spelled the end of Harvard’s stint in the ECAC playoffs.
For the Crimson offense, missed opportunities made the loss particularly painful. In addition to Taylor’s unconverted penalty shot, Harvard also pounded the Golden Knights’ net with 38 shots, but only one offering made it past Leggio.
“It’s a disappointing end to the season…Clarkson’s a good team, and we had them on the ropes most of the series,” Reese said. “We got a lot of good chances to score, we just weren’t able to.”
Despite the loss, however, Reese was satisfied with his team’s performance in his final game as captain.
“This weekend was really a culmination of our season, and the way we played this weekend was the way I wanted us to play,” Reese said. “On the whole, we played our best hockey of the year, so what can you do?”
—Staff writer Daniel J. Rubin-Wills can be reached at email@example.com.