In a reversal of roles from its past few games, it was the Harvard men’s hockey team (1-3-1, 1-3-1 ECAC) that came from behind to skate to a 3-3 tie with No. 19 Princeton (3-2-1, 2-1-1 ECAC) on Saturday afternoon at Baker Rink.
The Crimson found itself down 3-1 with less than four minutes left to play in the second before coming back to rally to a tie.
“In terms of how important it is to be able to come back, if you look at past years, championship teams come back from deficits,” senior forward Doug Rogers said. “This is going to be very important going ahead in the season. Being able to score goals in a timely manner will be pretty vital for us.”
After relinquishing early leads against both Colgate and Cornell last weekend, the Crimson found itself in the unfamiliar position of being on the offensive during the contest’s closing minutes. Harvard managed to claw its way back against the Tigers with a tie when junior forward Michael Biega found the back of the net with just 57 seconds left in regulation.
“While we were not completely happy with the result, we did climb back from a 3-1 deficit, so that was a positive step forward,” Rogers said. “It proved to everyone that we have the ability to come back in games.”
The tying tally came after Harvard weathered an onslaught of attempts at goal from the Tigers, as the Crimson was outshot, 14-8, in the final frame. With Richter sent to the bench in the final minutes, the Crimson capitalized on its man advantage when freshman forward Louis LeBlanc passed the puck to an open Michael Biega, who was sitting directly in front of Princeton goaltender Zane Kalemba.
“That was a great play by that line,” captain Alex Biega said. “That line [of LeBlanc, Killorn, and Michael Biega] has been contributing offensively significantly throughout the past five games. It was a great setup by LeBlanc, and [Michael Biega] made a great play to put it in the net.”
In contrast to the third period, Harvard controlled much of the offensive play in the opening two frames, outshooting its Tigers counterparts by a margin of 12 shots. In spite of this advantage, it was Princeton who found the back of the net first after a scoreless first period.
The Tigers scored twice in a seven-second span, first finding the net off a power play and again after they won the resulting faceoff.
But the Crimson responded less than two minutes later when Rogers blasted the puck over Kalemba’s left shoulder to make it 2-1.
Princeton scored another off a power play at 16:09 in the second to make it two-for-four on the power play. In contrast to the Tigers’ power play success, Harvard went zero for five with the man advantage.
“In our league especially, there are a lot of penalties taken, and special teams can make or break a team,” Rogers said. “I think our power play and penalty kill have to be better in games going forward.”
Alex Biega tallied his first goal of the year off an assist from Rogers to round out the scoring of the second frame and cut Princeton’s lead back down to one goal.
“The [goal] at the end of the second period was a big goal for us to gain momentum going into the third,” Rogers said.
Though the Crimson carried that offensive momentum into the final period of play, it did not come to fruition until Michael Biega’s tally in the final minute, tying up the game at three goals apiece and snapping Harvard’s three-game losing streak.
After five consecutive games on the road to open up the season, Harvard will finally be able to take advantage of the atmosphere of Bright Hockey Center, as the team will be playing at home for its next seven games.
Next weekend, the Crimson looks to improve on its league record as it takes on conference rivals St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
“It’s pretty evident that it’s difficult to win on the road,” Alex Biega said. “We’ve had a difficult schedule right out of the gate here with five away games...It’s evident that we have to work on some things.”
“We’re definitely looking forward to playing at home for a few weeks now,” Rogers added.
—Staff writer Lucy D. Chen can be reached at email@example.com.