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Coming off the 2014 Rivalry on Ice game against Yale, the Harvard men’s hockey team battled another ancient rival in No. 12 Cornell.
The final score may have been closer, but the same frustration remained.
Giving up two goals in the final seconds of both the first and second period, as well as a shorthanded score in the first as well, the Crimson (5-9-3, 2-7-3 ECAC) could not come back against the visiting Big Red (9-4-3, 5-3-2), falling 3-2 Friday night at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
With a fairly young team this season – 29 of the last 32 goals have been scored by underclassmen - Harvard has had difficulty putting together a complete 60-minute performance thus far. Again this was the case Friday night, with a few mistakes resulting in a Crimson loss.
“You know you can’t just walk away from this one,” freshman forward Sean Malone said. “Those are points that we need right now. I thought we did a lot of things well but you have to do it consistently every game and I thought for maybe 10 minutes there we didn’t and it cost us the game.”
Both the first and third goals for Cornell were the result of ill-timed changes, leaving Harvard vulnerable without any support to defend the rushing Big Red skaters. Madison Dias broke free and netted his first goal of the season to open the scoring, while Dustin Mowrey finished strong puck movement by Cornell and beat Crimson junior goalie Steve Michalek high glove side.
Harvard pressured the Big Red throughout the third, especially in the final half of the period, but was unable to find the equalizer, with senior goalie Andy Iles making half of his 22 saves in the final frame.
LAST MINUTE LAPSES
The 142nd matchup between the Crimson and Cornell featured hard-fought hockey throughout, but it was two late period lulls - one in the first and one in the second - that ended up costing Harvard in the end.
“We are frustrated. We beat ourselves,” Crimson coach Ted Donato '91 said. “We gave up two goals in the last 20 seconds, one at the end of the first, one at the end of the second. Both times we had full possession of the puck and basically turned it over… we left the door open with the two goals at the end of the periods.”
In the closing seconds of the initial period, Christian Hilbrich was able to take a pass from Joakim Ryan, deke the Harvard defender, and then beat Michalek with a backhanded shot with just four seconds remaining to make it 2-0.
The Crimson was able to tie it up in the second period, gaining momentum with two straight goals in response. But with just under 20 seconds remaining in the second period, after Cornell won the battle behind the net, Mowrey finished off two consecutive passes from Brian Ferlin and Hilbrich to put the Big Red up for good.
SHORTHANDED, NO PROBLEM
Coming into Friday night’s contest, it was expected that special teams would be a factor, with Cornell having the second best power-play unit in the nation and the Crimson possessing the 11th best penalty kill.
But it was the Big Red’s penalty kill that struck first, with Dias scoring the first shorthanded goal for the team all season. The junior forward found himself all alone in front of Michalek after a long pass up ice from defenseman Joakim Ryan, who is now tied with Brian Ferlin for team lead in points with 18.
That would be all the offense Cornell would get from its special teams, with the Crimson shutting out the Big Red power play, 0-3 on the night. Harvard did not only kill all of Cornell’s man-advantage opportunities, it was able to knot the score at two with its own shorthanded goal.
After Malone won the battle along the boards behind the Big Red net, he sent it in front of the goal to freshman Devin Tringale, who was then able to beat Iles for his first collegiate goal.
“I tried to pressure them and skate as hard as I could and fortunately got the bounce and got it up to [Tringale] for the goal,” Malone said.
Malone was a bright spot for the Crimson in a night where four of the points came from freshmen, which Harvard has relied heavily this season. The young team hopes to correct the costly mistakes, using its experience against 10 ranked teams thus far in the coming weeks in the final month of the season.
“We expect better from ourselves and I think we’ll get there shortly,” Donato said.
—Staff writer David Mazza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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