Looking to earn a spot in the ECAC quarterfinals for the fourth straight season, the Harvard men’s hockey team (10-19-3, 6-14-2 ECAC) suffered a 4-1 loss to Dartmouth Saturday night at Thompson Arena.
With the win, the Big Green (15-12-5, 9-9-4 ECAC) tied the series at one, forcing a winner-take-all matchup Sunday night in the best-of-three first round series.
Having fallen to the Crimson the night before, Dartmouth had its back against the wall, not wanting to see its season—in which it had once been ranked in the top 10 nationally—end in an upset sweep to a last place Harvard squad.
“They definitely played harder,” junior goalie Raphael Girard said. “I’d say they were physically a little softer on Friday and they definitely put more traffic in front of net yesterday which allowed them to create a little havoc in front of our net and eventually score some screen goals.”
The Crimson was able to stave off the Big Green attack for half of the game, keeping the contest close, tied at one midway through the second period.
But Dartmouth scored three unanswered goals thereafter, with sophomore forward Tyler Sikura netting a power-play goal 12:48 in the second and the Big Green piling on two more goals in the third to clinch the 4-1 victory.
Assistant captain Alex Fallstrom had the lone tally for Harvard, a power-play goal 8:43 in the second from a tough angle near the left side of the Dartmouth net. Girard recorded 31 saves in the loss.
Dartmouth came out roaring in the first, dominating puck possession and outshooting the Crimson 15-5. But just one of those 15 shots hit the back of the Harvard net, with Dustin Walsh scoring halfway through the first with help from Sikura and freshman forward Tim O’Brien.
With its season on the line, and with the Crimson appearing more motivated after coming into Hanover as the underdogs and winning game one, the Big Green brought its best play to Harvard in game two and took control early.
“Going into Saturday night I don’t think we really grasped fully the intensity Dartmouth would bring out in the first period when their backs were against the wall facing elimination,” junior defenseman John Caldwell said. “So I think we got caught a little flat-footed in the first period on Saturday night.”
Fallstrom tied it up at one before Sikura scored what would be the eventual game-winner.
Senior Luke Greiner stole the puck back from the home team as they attempted to clear the Crimson attack. He immediately passed the puck back to captain Danny Biega near the right point with a backhanded pass, and then Biega sent a sharp pass through two Dartmouth defensemen to Fallstrom by the left baseline. The Swede shot the puck over Morris’ shoulder and into the top right corner of the goal.
In the third, the Big Green put the game out of reach. Senior defenseman Mike Keenan scored on a shot through traffic, beating Girard on his stick side and putting Dartmouth up 3-1. Freshman forward Brett Patterson and junior forward Lindblad were attributed with the assists.
Lindblad capped the scoring for the Big Green, taking advantage of a breakaway after senior Brendan Rempel tripped over a broken stick left on the visitors’ blue line.
Despite the four goals, Harvard believed it would be able to limit the Big Green’s attack on Sunday and make the appropriate adjustments.
“I’d say the goals we gave up [Saturday] are easily fixable [Sunday] so I think the team is pretty confident,” Girard said.
The Crimson looked to put this game behind it as it prepared for its third game in three days Sunday evening, where the Crimson’s season ultimately came to an end, as Harvard lost, 4-1.
“If you show with your own intensity it doesn’t really matter what anyone else brings to the table…. We’ll be ready from the drop of the puck until the end of the game,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to get it deep, we’re going to hit them hard, we are going to get pucks to the net, we are going to crash, we’re going to get ugly goals. We are not looking for end-to-end goals, we are looking to pound it in there, hurt them, and get some goals in the dirty areas.”
—Staff writer David A. Mazza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.