A double-overtime goal was all that separated the Harvard and Yale men’s hockey teams during the Crimson’s 2015 ECAC Hockey title run. In the conference favorites’ first meeting of 2015-2016, nothing did.
Freshman Joe Snively scored his second goal of the night with 35.8 seconds left in regulation to steal a 2-2 tie for No. 12/9 Yale (2-0-1, 2-0-1 ECAC) before a sellout crowd of 3,095 at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center on Friday.
After junior forward Tyler Moy gave No. 7/6 Harvard (2-0-1, 2-0-1) its first lead of the night with 5:57 left in the third period, Yale coach Keith Allain called his team’s timeout with 42 seconds remaining and his All-American goaltender pulled. Bulldog junior John Hayden won a puck battle off the ensuing faceoff in the Crimson zone and threaded a pass from behind the goal line to Snively on a set play for the game’s final score.
“It was a heck of a college hockey game,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “I think both teams could probably figure that they grew up today playing a tight game like that.”
Harvard junior forward Luke Esposito also scored before a lively crowd that included Secretary of State John Kerry. The hosts’ third league game of the season had a postseason feel with hard hits across humid ice.
Eight months removed from ending Yale’s conference title hopes with his extra-time marker in game three of the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals, co-captain Jimmy Vesey sent a potential empty-net insurance marker just wide a shift before Snively’s tying goal.
In an even overtime frame, Vesey averted a Yale opportunity on the back-check, but the hosts failed to test junior goaltender Alex Lyon, who finished the night with 30 saves.
On the other side, freshman goaltender Michael Lackey made 33 stops for Harvard in his first career NCAA start. The Washington, D.C., native saw few high-quality scoring chances Friday but looks to challenge for the starting role with sophomore Merrick Madsen, who won twice in his first two collegiate starts last weekend.
“I thought [Lackey] played well,” Donato said. “It’s not easy getting your first start versus Yale at home in a big game, but it is the third game of the season and we have confidence in him. He’s worked hard in practice and deserved the opportunity.”
Eighteen of the saves made by Lackey's All-American opponent came in the first period as Lyon turned away opportunities from Vesey, senior Colin Blackwell, and freshman Ryan Donato. He also watched a shot from Esposito ring off the crossbar.
In the second period, Yale took control with the first goal of the night at 9:24 from Snively, who sent a fluttering backhand across the slot to catch Lackey off-balance, but Esposito broke through at 14:52, catching the Bulldogs on a line change with a sharp slap shot above the left faceoff circle.
In the third, Esposito chipped a puck along the boards to Moy, who found a seam across the left faceoff circle to beat Lyon short side. The linemates have combined for five goals in the young season.
“[Esposito]…sees the ice very well,” Moy said. “We talk and communicate, and we think very similarly, so I think that definitely helps.”
With less than 40 seconds to play in regulation Friday, Esposito and Moy were among the favorites to take home the Tim Taylor Cup, the award established last season to recognize the most valuable player of each annual Harvard-Yale regular season game in Allston. But the pair watched on the ice as Snively slipped his second puck past Lackey.
“[The teams] match up well,” said Snively, who received the trophy in a ceremony after the game and now has four goals through his first three career games. “It’s fun hockey.”
With the tie, Harvard will have to wait until February for its next shot at its first regular season win over Yale since Jan. 27, 2012. If recent history is any indication, however, Friday night might just be the first of many clashes between the programs this season. For now, Moy and his team will take their season’s fifth conference point and the experience that went along with it.
“Obviously when you have less than a minute left in the game and you let something up like that it’s a little bit of a killer—it changes the mood,” Moy said. “But I think for the most part, [there was] a lot of battle, a lot of good things that we did, and a lot to take from it.”
—Crimson staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mdledecky.
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