Fighting back from a 2-0 and then a 3-1 deficit, the Harvard men’s hockey team found itself within striking distance for the last nine minutes of the game, looking to upset No. 5/6 Quinnipiac Friday night at TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.
But the Crimson (2-4-1, 1-4-1 ECAC) could not find the equalizer, falling to the Bobcats, 3-2, and losing its fourth straight game overall and in ECAC play. With the win, Quinnipiac (10-1-1, 4-0-1 ECAC) remains undefeated in league play.
“We were happy with our efforts Friday night,” captain Dan Ford said. “We really played hard and battled; I would’ve liked to have a better result, but we weren’t too discouraged moving on to the next night. We felt we were in [the] game and a couple plays here or there and we could’ve ended up on top.”
The Bobcats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, with freshman defenseman Brayden Sherbinin and senior forward Cory Hibbeler each netting a goal. Sherbinin’s goal came 6:30 into the game, assisted by Tim Clifton and Alex Barron; Hibbeler scored at 12:02 into the first, with help from Devon Toews and Barron.
Part of Quinnipiac’s success this year has been its ability to get ahead early on the scoreboard, and again this was the case in the Bobcats' tenth win of the season.
“It’s tough to fall behind in the first period,” Ford said. “We thought that the first five-to-seven minutes we were carrying the play, [with] a lot of time in their offensive zone putting…so it’s tough when we give up a chance early and they are able to score quickly.”
Harvard was able to cut the deficit in half in the second period, as the Crimson took advantage of a facemasking penalty and game misconduct from Quinnipiac senior Kellen Jones. Sophomore forward Kyle Criscuolo scored the lone goal of the period, at 12:39 with an assist from freshman forward Phil Zielonka in Harvard’s first of two power-play opportunities in the game.
The Crimson and the Bobcats exchanged goals in the third period, and Quinnipiac was able to hold off Harvard’s late rallies.
Jordan Samuels-Thomas put the Bobcats up 3-1 4:20 into the final frame. Sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey then made it 3-2 on a delayed penalty opportunity with 8:50 remaining in the game, with help from sophomore Brian Hart and freshman Luke Esposito.
“We did a good job sticking with our game plan and taking it shift by shift,” Ford said. “When you fall behind on the road like that it’s easy to stray from what you’re trying to do as a team, but we did a pretty good job of going through the process and battling back each shift. That’s what got us back in the game and put ourselves [in a position] to get a few chances at the end of the game to possibly tie it up.”
The Crimson could not put another puck past Bobcat goalie Michael Garteig, who had 31 saves on the night, 18 of which came in the third period—including one that was reviewed but ultimately ruled no goal.
“Towards the end of the game we were pressing,” Criscuolo said. “We had the puck in their end [and] got a lot of shots. Their goalie actually played really well. I think we all felt that we were going to get a goal at the end [but] it just didn’t happen.”
Harvard goalie, senior Raphael Girard, countered with 30 saves of his own.
“He stood on his head again for us,” Criscuolo said. “Overall he’s been playing really well all year…as long as our goaltending keeps playing great we’ve been in almost every single game; we just need to start scoring more goals for those guys.”
This defeat also marks Harvard’s second straight one-goal loss as it enters into a stretch of play that includes seven road games over its next eight. The Crimson will look to build upon this close loss to a highly ranked team as the season progresses.
“I think everyone felt that we carried the play for most of the game,” Criscuolo said. “We played a lot in their end, we got a lot of shots in the first and third periods, so I think we have a positive feeling knowing they were the sixth ranked team in the nation. I think we felt we deserved better in that game, it stinks not getting a point but it’s a good step moving forward.”
—Staff writer David A. Mazza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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