With 12 past overtime games, the Harvard men’s hockey team has had plenty of experience with the extra period. But this time, one thing was different—ties were not allowed.
Not winning any one of those 12 OT games over the course of the season, the Crimson continued its streak Friday night, suffering a 2-1 loss in the first game of the ECAC quarterfinal playoffs against rival Yale at the Bright Hockey Center.
3:49 into overtime, Bulldog forward Kenny Agostino found himself open on the right side of the net after a pass from Antoine Laganiere. After pausing for a split-second as he gathered the puck, Agostino buried a shot past sophomore goaltender Raphael Girard on the far high side, winning the game for Yale (16-14-3, 10-10-2 ECAC) and giving the visitors a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three series.
“We’re disappointed in the result,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “They looked like the quicker team, they came up with a lot of loose pucks, [and] we gave up far too many out-numbered rushes and scoring chances against.”
One bright spot for the Crimson was Girard, who played well throughout, keeping the third-seeded Harvard (10-9-11, 8-5-9) within striking distance all night by saving 42 of the Bulldogs’ 44 shots.
“It’s playoff time,” Girard said. “If you want to go a long time down the road, you got to have a good goalie. I’m from Montreal, and I always look at Patrick Roy in . He just carried the whole team to the Stanley Cup, and that’s what you got to do.”
“Girard was outstanding,” Donato added. “He gave us a chance to have a few looks to win the game.”
In its first game in two weeks after earning a first-round bye, the Crimson showed some rust, especially in the first two periods, against the quick sixth-seeded Yale squad.
The beginning of the game had all the intensity of the postseason, with the home team delivering some big hits with its physical play. But Harvard could not generate many quality scoring chances.
“[Bulldog goaltender Nick] Maricic was solid,” Donato said. “But I don’t think we created enough traffic in front of him.”
The visitors jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first. A shot from the left point was initially saved by Girard and tipped in front of the net a few times before ultimately being put back in by freshman Trent Ruffolo.
Despite being outshot, 28-16, in the first two periods (14-8 in each), Harvard managed to knot the score at one right before the second period came to a close.
With under 30 seconds remaining, junior Luke Greiner netted the equalizer on a put-back from junior Danny Biega’s initial shot from the right point. Senior Eric Kroshus assisted on the play as well, keeping the puck in the offensive zone and passing it over to Biega.
“The goal in the second gave us a good boost going into the third because I don’t think we played all that well in the first 40 minutes,” Donato said.
Harvard stepped up its play in the final frame but was unable to find the back of the net on one of its 14 shots. Freshman Colin Blackwell had an opportunity near the net on the right after a pass across from Kroshus left him in good position, but his shot sailed wide left.