Harvard was plagued by inconsistency throughout the game—the home side was dominant at times and struggled at others.
“We played very well in spurts, but I don’t think we had that for the entire game,” Killorn said.
Both Killorn and Donato pointed out that there were likely some rust and nerves, as expected in the first game of a season. Princeton was playing in its third game on the year.
“No matter how long you practice, it’s different than an actual game,” Killorn said.
Donato was quick to give the Tigers credit for their physical play.
“They made it tough in front of the net,” Donato said.
Considering three of Princeton’s four goals came on the power play, the Crimson’s penalty kill will be an area of heavy focus early in the season.
“We could definitely do a much better job blocking shots [on the penalty kill]” captain defenseman Ryan Grimshaw said. “But I think a lot of kids are ready to get their bodies in front of pucks.”
Despite a tough loss, Harvard will take a few positives away from the game. While the penalty kill struggled, the Crimson’s power play was strong.
Of the four power plays it drew, Harvard converted on one and scored just as another expired.
Michalek made 34 saves in net, including two impressive stops on Tiger breakaways in the third period to keep Harvard within striking distance.
Princeton did score four goals, but two came on rebounded loose pucks in front of the net.
Donato also complimented the play of freshman defenseman Patrick McNally in solidifying the Crimson defense.
The game marked the first collegiate experience for the Crimson’s highly touted freshmen class.
Along with McNally and Michalek, forwards Colin Blackwell, Tommy O’Regan and Petr Placek, and defenseman Max Everson all saw their first game action for Harvard.
While the Crimson players hope to avoid playing from behind in future games, there was a silver lining to be found in the close loss.
“It does speak a lot to the character we have of this team,” Grimshaw said. “We battled back.”