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HAMDEN, Conn.—When No. 4/3 Quinnipiac’s Tommy Schutt lit the lamp to break a scoreless tie less than three minutes into the second period Friday night, the No. 7/6 Harvard men’s hockey team found itself in a familiar situation. Schutt’s third goal of the season, the product of a Crimson turnover deep in its own zone, marked the fourth consecutive game in which Harvard had surrendered the first goal.
But when Bobcat junior co-captain Sam Anas went top-shelf 10 minutes later to hand the Crimson its first multi-goal deficit of the season, Harvard entered uncharted territory. And moments later, when the officials issued sophomore forward Seb Lloyd a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct, the Crimson ran itself into a hole it could not escape.
On the ensuing power play, junior center Tim Clifton netted the Bobcats’ third goal of the period, redirecting a Derek Smith drive past rookie goaltender Michael Lackey from just outside the crease, paving the way for a 4-1 Quinnipiac (9-0-0, 3-0-0 ECAC) victory at High Point Solutions Arena.
“I thought we just weren’t ready to play as hard as we needed to play,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 after the Crimson's first loss of the season.
After surrendering the first two goals, Harvard (3-1-1, 3-1-1) had an opportunity to cut the deficit in half when sophomore forward Andrew Taverner was sent to the box for slashing. But up against a penalty-killing unit that has surrendered a power-play goal in just one of its nine games, the Crimson could not muster much of anything. And Harvard quickly paid the price.
A minute after the Bobcat penalty’s expiration, Lloyd sent sophomore defenseman Kevin McKernan flying into the boards next to the Crimson bench, drawing a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. After Lloyd departed to the Harvard locker room, Clifton produced the first of his two goals on the night to send his side into the second intermission with a three-goal lead.
“Even though they were putting the pressure on us a little bit, we were still a shot away from making it a game,” Donato said. “To take a bad penalty to put a good team on a power play for five minutes [and] give up a power play goal, now the game’s a little bit more of an uphill chase.”
After failing to convert on the man advantage before the major penalty, the Crimson nearly found a breakthrough courtesy of freshman forward Michael Floodstrand. Positioned deep in the right corner, junior forward Luke Esposito fed the rookie as he darted towards the goalmouth. But as the freshman lifted the puck on his backhand from the left post, senior goaltender Michael Garteig sprawled out on all fours to make the stop.
Floodstrand and junior forward Sean Malone, who nearly beat Garteig with a wrister from the slot in the first period, produced Harvard's best scoring opportunities, which were few and far between on the night. The Crimson's top line of Jimmy Vesey, Kyle Criscuolo, and Alex Kerfoot—which produced 18 points through the first four games—generated just two shots through the first two periods as Harvard struggled to create offensive opportunities.
Quinnipiac’s scoring opportunities arose with much more regularity. After a slow start, Schutt put the Bobcats on the board early in the second period after junior K.J. Tiefenwerth fanned on a shot in close, allowing the puck to trickle over to the 6’0” center on the doorstep. Anas followed suit with the 50th goal of his career 10 minutes later, picking top corner against Lackey from the right circle after receiving a pass from linemate Landon Smith deep in the corner.
“I thought our first period, we were a little bit nervous,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “I thought we were a little panicky. I thought Harvard maybe was a little bit too…. But I thought we both settled a down a little bit in the second, and that’s where our depth really came in.”
The Bobcats finished with 28 shots to the Crimson’s 20, controlling the bulk of the action over the final two periods. Garteig saved 19 of the 20 shots that came his way to earn his ninth consecutive win in net.
The only shot to make its way past Garteig came on a Harvard 6-on-3 off the stick of sophomore defenseman Wiley Sherman, who poked the puck by the senior in the middle of a crowded crease in the game’s final minute. But off the ensuing faceoff, Clifton immediately found the empty net to return the hosts’ lead back to three.
“Our overall compete level needs to be better, and our ability to persevere and stay with what we’re trying to do needs to be better,” Donato said. “When it’s all said and done, we beat ourselves.”
—Staff writer Jake Meagher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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