Returning home after a nationally-televised rout, the Harvard men’s hockey team walked into a hostile, sold-out Bright-Landry Hockey Center on Saturday night looking for its first conference win in two months. It left with one of its most frustrating losses of the season.
The Crimson (5-9-3, 2-7-3 ECAC) played some of its best minutes of the year Friday, dominating the offensive zone for long stretches of the third period in front of a Big Red-heavy crowd. But the hosts could not overcome their earlier mistakes as No. 12 Cornell (9-4-3, 5-3-2 ECAC) skated to a 3-2 win.
“You can’t just walk away from this one,” freshman Sean Malone said. “Those are points that we need right now. I thought that there were a lot of things that we did well but you have to do this consistently, every game. I thought maybe for 10 minutes there we didn’t and it cost us the game.”
A short-hander and two last-minute strikes off Harvard turnovers gave the visitors all the goals they needed. After goals from Malone and freshman forward Devin Tringale erased a two-goal deficit, senior center Dustin Mowrey provided the game winner with 20 seconds left in the middle frame.
Cornell’s first two goals came in the first period off a shorthanded breakaway from junior Madison Dias on Harvard’s first power play and, 13 minutes later, a strike from sophomore forward Christian Hilbrich with four seconds left on the clock.
Senior goaltender Andy Iles did the rest for the Big Red in the third, making 11 saves in the final frame and killing off two Crimson power plays in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Harvard entered Friday looking for its first conference win since a 5-3 win at Princeton on Nov. 15. Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 opted to start goaltender Steve Michalek after the junior came off the bench to replace senior starter Raphael Girard in the Crimson’s 5-1 loss to Yale in the Rivalry On Ice game at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Michalek was a solid presence between the pipes for Harvard on Friday, stopping 25 of 28 shots and yielding no easy goals, but the Crimson left points on the table.