In 2012, the then-undefeated Harvard men’s ice hockey team welcomed Yale to the Bright-Landry Hockey Center for an early November matchup, only to be run off the ice in a convincing 5-1 defeat.
On Saturday night, the Crimson found itself in the same position, heading into its first of three contests against the Bulldogs (3-1-2, 2-1-1 ECAC) unbeaten through five games. And given a second chance, Harvard this time proved the validity of its record, playing Yale even for 46 minutes.
The Bulldogs, however, would eventually be the side to break the tie, as junior defenseman Ryan Obuchowski lit the lamp 6:48 into the final frame, lifting Yale past the Crimson (3-1-2, 2-1-2 ECAC) in a 2-1 victory.
“I’m happy with the effort,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “There’s certainly things we can improve on, and as a team that really wants to improve moving forward, it’s a good learning experience for us to be in a tight, close game against a very smart, strong team.”
Bulldogs’ forward Mike Doherty began the attack to put his side ahead, carrying the puck over the blue line along the right wing. The sophomore then shifted his stride toward the center of the ice and dropped the puck off for Obuchowski at the top of the right circle.
With thirty feet between him and the closest Crimson defenseman, Obuchowski elected to move toward the boards rather than crash the net, and his decision paid off. From the difficult angle, the junior ripped a wrist shot that deflected off a Harvard stick, skipping over the left shoulder of Crimson goaltender Steve Michalek to put Yale ahead, 1-0.
That is how the score would remain until the final minute of play. After the Crimson pulled Michalek in favor of an extra attacker, Doherty took advantage of a misplayed puck on the Harvard blueline and netted an empty net goal with just 55 seconds remaining.
Riding the momentum of back-to-back six-goal outbursts, the Crimson came out strong in the first period, outskating Yale in the opening minutes. But Harvard just could not find a way to solve Bulldogs’ goaltender Alex Lyon.
“I thought [in] the first period we played well,” Donato said. “I thought there were probably eight to 10 minutes there where [we] were having men control the puck down low. [But Lyon] made some big saves.”
The sophomore netminder’s biggest stop of the game came midway through the second period.
Sophomore forward Tyler Moy flipped the puck up the left boards to elude a Yale attacker, giving him the entire wing to work with. Darting his way through the left circle, the sophomore delivered a pass on the ensuing 2-on-1 to freshman forward Jake Horton.
The rookie ripped a shot on his first touch of the puck, but Lyon, sprawling to his left, was there to deny Horton his first collegiate goal. The goaltender notched 33 saves in all, earning him the inaugural Tim Taylor Cup for the most valuable player of the Harvard-Yale matchup played in Cambridge.
“[Lyon] is an excellent goaltender,” Donato said. “He was positionally sound, and he didn’t scramble at all…. I think we could have maybe got some more pucks to the net, [but] sometimes excellent goalies…actually cause you to shoot less because you don’t want to waste opportunities.”
The Crimson finally broke through with 16 seconds remaining in the contest, when junior forward Jimmy Vesey poked a loose puck past Lyon from inside the crease to cut the deficit in half.
Harvard had a chance to equalize just moments later after a Yale delay of game penalty gave the team a faceoff in the attacking zone, but the Crimson could not muster a shot on goal in the game’s final seconds.
Michalek stopped 33 of the 34 shots that came his way in the game, matching his total against Brown in a win on Friday. The junior holds a .941 save percentage—the second best mark in the ECAC.
Despite Michalek’s efforts, Harvard has now dropped six of its last seven contests against the Bulldogs.
“Any loss to Yale is obviously tough to swallow,” junior co-captain Kyle Criscuolo said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever beaten Yale so far, so [this] is just adding to a bad taste in my mouth against those guys. I can’t wait to play them again.”
—Staff writer Jake Meagher can be reached at email@example.com.
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