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The Harvard men’s hockey team looked on the verge of extending a rather unenviable program record Friday night. With a Harvard-high eight ties already in the books in the 2011-12 season, number nine appeared imminent.
But after blowing a 3-2 lead with just four minutes left, the Crimson responded against Yale. Senior forward Alex Killorn’s goal with just over a minute left sealed the 4-3 Harvard (5-6-8, 4-5-6 ECAC) victory over the Bulldogs (8-10-2, 5-7-1) at a packed Bright Hockey Center.
“Our guys battled.... It was nice to have somebody step up and make the play,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “Losing the lead there in the third was a little bit frustrating and disappointing, but our guys have played in a lot of close games, so we were able to bounce back.”
The game-winner was the second goal of the night for Killorn, whose first goal early in the second period tied both teams at two.
Junior forward Marshall Everson scored one goal and dished out an assist on the night, tying him with Killorn for a team-high two points. Both of Everson’s points came in the final frame.
“[Everson] made a great play on the third goal...[and] a nice pass on the game-winning goal,” Donato said. “Marshall’s really having a breakout year, and we expect him, as his confidence grows, to keep improving and be a major factor for us.
Between the pipes, freshman goaltender Steve Michalek struggled in the early going, letting in two goals on just 10 shots in the first period. But the rookie settled down, stopping 23 Yale shots while allowing just one to get by him in the final 40 minutes.
The contest had special meaning for Michalek, a Glastonbury, Conn. native.
“I know Yale’s been kind of a powerhouse the past few years, and especially being in Connecticut while they were doing so well, I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while,” Michalek said. “It’s great to win it.”
The victory was the first for the Crimson since a Dec. 10 contest at Princeton, which Harvard won, 4-3. In the ensuing eight games, the Crimson had tied five and lost three.
In its nationally televised 234th meeting with Yale, Harvard struck first. Just under four minutes in, senior forward Eric Kroshus skated towards the right side of the Bulldog goal before crossing the puck to junior forward Luke Grenier, who easily deposited the puck past Yale netminder Jeff Malcolm.
The Bulldogs responded emphatically at the end of the period, scoring twice in a period of 13 seconds to give the visitors the lead.
“That’s kind of been a problem for us all year is we let up a goal and then we kind of sit back and let up another one quickly,” Michalek said.
Killorn brought the Crimson even with the visitors at the beginning of the subsequent frame when he skated around the goal and managed to tuck the puck inside the left post on a wraparound.
Harvard didn’t find the back of the net for the remainder of the frame, though it had its chances.
A slashing penalty against Bulldog Jesse Root at the 2:19 mark gave the Crimson its first power play of the evening. Despite consistent pressure and a flurry of shots, Harvard, which has the top-ranked power play in the nation, failed to convert.
The team’s power play looked flat for the rest of the period.
“We just got away from what we were doing with our breakouts,” Killorn said. “I think guys were getting a little frustrated, trying to force things a little bit on the breakout.”
The Crimson had another opportunity with just over two minutes left in the period. With the puck in Yale’s defensive zone, Donato took Michalek out of goal to redouble Harvard’s pressure. But that tactic didn’t work either, and the buzzer sounded on the second period with both teams still knotted at two.
The Crimson power play clicked in the final period, and Everson broke the stalemate with a timely goal on the man advantage midway through the third frame. Harvard now has scored a power-play goal in 18 of its last 19 matchups.
Yale responded six minutes later, as Bulldogs sophomore Gus Young scored an unassisted goal to even the sides at three. But Killorn’s score later in the period would send the visitors back to New Haven with the loss.
—Staff writer Robert S. Samuels can be reached at email@example.com.
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