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The 2014 Rivalry on Ice lived up to its billing Saturday night, with a sell-out crowd at hand in Madison Square Garden, several guests including Mark Messier and Secretary of State John Kerry, and various events and activities for each fanbase before and after the game. But for Harvard, the game itself was marked with frustration, with the Crimson suffering a 5-1 loss to ancient rival, No. 10 Yale.
Entering the second period knotted at one, Harvard looked to continue the momentum it had established in the second half of the first period. But early in the second period, Bulldog Cody Learned snuck a slap-shot past senior goaltender Raphael Girard, getting the fortunate bounce for Yale, and that was all it took.
Just under three minutes later, the Bulldogs clamped down even further with two goals in 26 seconds, by Gus Young and Learned, prompting Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 to replace Girard with junior Steve Michalek.
Yale did not let up thereafter, as they continued to apply pressure on offense while at the same time thwarted any chances Harvard tried to muster. In fact, the Crimson recorded just 10 shots after the first period – six in the second and four in the third – while Bulldog goalie Alex Lyon stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced all game.
“I don’t think we ever quite rebounded the way we needed to from that,” freshman Luke Esposito said. “That’s just something we've got to learn from, dealing with adversity. We’re a young team and we talk about learning from our experiences here. We need to move past the bad bounces and get back to playing the way we want to play.”
Kenny Agostino added a goal midway through the final frame to put the game out of reach for Harvard, punching back in a rebound after Gus Young threw it at the net after he picked up the puck off the backboards from a deflected Agostino pass.
QUICK SHOT TO THE GUT
Harvard and Yale traded punches in the first period, with Mike Doherty netting a goal at 4:23 in the first and sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey scoring a power-play goal at 10:51.
But Learned’s goal, and especially the quick burst of two goals soon after, seemed to knock the wind of out the Crimson.
“The first goal kind of knocked us off balance and we weren’t able to truly recover,” Donato said. “To give up the second and third goal [of the second period] only thirty seconds apart ...was the difference in the game."
The Bulldogs only got better after their first goal in the second period, while Harvard had lost all of its momentum and could not overcome this three-goal deficit in the end.
“You could just tell on the bench that our resolve was a little bit different,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “We were better offensively but we were also better defensively. Once we got our grips on the lead we stiffened even more defensively and they really didn’t have much going after that.”
ANCIENT RIVALRY ON ICE
Over one hundred years after their first meeting, Harvard and Yale returned to New York to play their 242nd game in this Ivy-League matchup. The Bulldogs defeated the Crimson, 5-4, on February 26th, 1900 at the now-demolished St. Nicholas rink in the Upper East Side in New York in the first contest of the now third-longest running rivalry in college hockey.
The two teams had not faced off in New York since 1970, where the Crimson defeated the Bulldogs, 6-2, in Madison Square Garden. Having signed a two-year contract with Leverage Agency, a New York-based sports, entertainment, and media marketing company, the ancient foes look to continue the Rivalry on Ice game in New York, with the Barclays Center slated as 2015’s venue.
Not only boasting a unique setting, the Rivalry on Ice featured several notable guests. Mark Messier, Hall of Fame center and uncle of the Crimson’s Luke Esposito, promoted the game, while Secretary of State John Kerry and NHL players Dominic Moore ’03 and Mike Richter were on hand to drop the first puck.
Though a neutral site, the majority of the 15,524 in attendance rooted for Yale in this exhibition match.
“The energy was outstanding,” Bulldog captain Jesse Root said. “The support from the Yale fanbase was pretty incredible, we heard them chanting 'Go Bulldogs' right from the start so that was pretty inspiring.”
The outcome of the game may not have been what Harvard had hoped for, but the team was thrilled with the chance of playing in such a historical place as Madison Square Garden, and looks to continue this event in the future.
“This was a first class event,” Donato said. “Obviously we are frustrated with the result but the overall event and experience and show of support on both sides was something to be marveled at. And certainly if there was a possibly of keeping this tradition it would be good for both schools and for college hockey.”
—Staff writer David A. Mazza can be reached at email@example.com.
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