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Harvard Men’s Hockey Falls to No. 13 Cornell, Fights Back in Upset Against Colgate

The Harvard men's ice hockey team posted mixed results this weekend against No.13 Cornell and Colgate.
The Harvard men's ice hockey team posted mixed results this weekend against No.13 Cornell and Colgate. By Dylan J. Goodman
By Nate M. Bolan and Tommy Branca, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard men’s hockey team saw a mixed performance as the squad looked to defend Bright Landry from the No. 13 Cornell Big Red and Colgate Raiders this past weekend, losing 2-0 and winning 6-3, respectively. In a sharp turnaround from earlier season play, the Harvard men’s ice hockey team (4-12-3, 4-7-3 ECAC) is on a tear. With wins against Yale, R.P.I., and Colgate, it has won more games this month than it has all season.

Crimson Head Coach Ted Donato and players have continually stressed the need for consistent play, and the need to find a team identity. But as the team gears up for its late-season stretch against No. 1 ECAC-ranked Quinnipiac, Boston competitor Northeastern, and Ivy League foe Dartmouth ahead of the Dunkin’ Men’s Beanpot starting Feb. 5, time is waning.

This weekend’s matchups against strong teams in the No. 13 Cornell Big Red (10-4-3) and Colgate Raiders provided Harvard with the perfect opportunity to string together strong plays of its own.

Much of the program’s recent success rests on the back of younger players, especially those whose contributions are not usually seen on the score sheet. Donato gave credit to several key players, and made adjustments to the line that helped the team slow Cornell’s attack in the first period and eventually win against Colgate.

When asked about the back-to-back performances by the young team, Donato said, “I thought [sophomore right wing] Joe Miller continued his excellent play lately. And I also thought that it was a real great game by Ben MacDonald; hadn't played much center for us this year [and] slid into the middle [well].”

Donato later added after the victory against Colgate that “what [the team] lack[s] in maturity, experience, [and] size, we make up for in speed.”

Cornell 2, Harvard 0

The Crimson's first game of the weekend was against No. 13 Cornell. This was the second time the two teams met this year with Harvard leading the season's series 1-0 after beating Cornell 3-2. By the end of the night Cornell tied up the series 1-1 after having a dominant two goal first period leading to their 2-0 win.

The first period started with Cornell storming out of the gate and nearly scoring in the first minute of play as a bouncing puck through the crease almost found its way in. The play was stopped due to the chaos in front knocking the net off its pegs. Cornell continued to dominate the first five minutes of play in all areas of the ice. As the period continued, both teams maintained their high intensity and hard hitting style of play. A knee-to-knee hit led to Cornell getting its first powerplay with 11:17 left in the period as Langenbrunner got two minutes for tripping. Up a man, Cornell controlled the zone and set up its power play nicely for the first minute, but was unable to generate any strong scoring chances.

Cornell's first goal came about four minutes later with 7:39 left on the clock. Below the goal line in the corner, Kyle Penney slotted a pass through two Crimson defensemen to find Jack O’Leary wide open in the side slot. O’Leary beat Mullahy blocker-side with a fast catch and release shot off the pass from the corner. Harvard responded with a short burst of offense, getting its first shot on goal, and only shot of the period. As Cornell continued to pepper Mullahy and control the shot column, the Big Red scored its second with 3:58 left to play. Mullahy was unable to stop a dynamic backhand cross ice pass from Nick DeSantis to Tim Rego, who – wide open – was able to sling it through the slot top corner to give Cornell a two goal lead. Cornell finished the period strong holding Harvard to only one shot while having 12 themselves.

Junior captain Zakary Karpa said that it was “obviously a tough first period tonight, but I thought we had a better 40 minutes in the second and third. So just a tough team to go down to earlier.”

The second period opened with competitive back-and-forth play as the Crimson looked to get themselves on the board. Having two good scoring chances in the first five minutes, the Crimson offense had found its stride. Cornell junior goalie Ian Shane came up with a big second save on what looked to be a promising rebound opportunity off a shot on goal splitting the Cornell defense. Harvard's offense continued to play much better, generating numerous odd man rushes throughout the next five minutes, including a four on zero and two on zero, but were unable to create any high opportunity chances. Play throughout the second half of the period was level, with both teams finding themselves on the power play but unable to score due to strong performances by the goalies at both ends of the ice. Cornell would skate off at the end of the second still 2-0, and still lead in shots.

The squad will look to continue its momentum against Quinnipiac on Friday.
The squad will look to continue its momentum against Quinnipiac on Friday. By Dylan J. Goodman

Harvard's offense and defense continued to play much better leading to an exciting third as Havard tried to fight its way back into the game. As in the second, the third period continued to be high hitting with back and forth play. Although getting a power play off a cross check by Hoyt Stanley, the Crimson was unable to set up and create any dangerous chances. The Crimson ended 0-2 on the night for power plays, and despite its victory, Cornell wasn’t able to capitalize on any of its three chances.

Pulling its goalie with three minutes to play, Harvard looked to create offensive opportunities, but almost gave up a third goal as a blocked shot by the Big Red’s goalie led to a footrace between O’Leary and Harvard's Ben MacDonald. MacDonald was able to make a diving play on the back check to swipe the puck away and save the empty net goal, but his efforts would go unneeded as Cornell shut down Harvard in the last two minutes. Shutting down Harvard on the six on five, Cornell won 2-0 with 23 shots compared to Havards 17.

“I think what was frustrating is I felt like in the first period, we got outworked, and that shouldn't happen in a big game like this,” Donato said. “So we just needed to get skating and be more aggressive and just kind of execute some simple plays and we did it better in the second and third”

Colgate 3, Harvard 6

The Crimson’s next game against Colgate on Sunday night saw a noticeable change in pace for the Crimson. Marked by lower intensity but smarter play on both ends of the ice, Harvard scrambled back again from a 2-0 deficit in the first period to win a runaway game.

Colgate’s goals came just one minute and 18 seconds apart midway through the period, the first from junior Raider forward Brett Chorske, whose sister Hannah plays for the Harvard women’s ice hockey team, and the second from sophomore Raider forward Daniel Panetta. What created the Harvard surge, Donato noted, was the ability to “get all five guys connected.”

On the early Colgate search, Donato said that the team “just gave up goals too easily; a couple of mistakes. And I think the third goal [for Harvard] was really important because it brought some light back to the bench.”

Playing connected and cohesive hockey was a consistent theme for the Crimson. First-year Harvard center Ben MacDonald, who Donato praised after the game, had only one goal coming into the night, but put up his first career two-goal game. The Crimson’s Marek Hedjuk, a sophomore left winger, also netted a goal for his third of the season. Right winger and fellow sophomore Joe Miller continued his hot streak, scoring two goals of his own, having come into the weekend with 11 points in the last eight games.

Despite going down early, Harvard seemed more aggressive in shot-taking throughout, and the smarter play in the first period yielded eight shots compared to the previous night’s one. It was on the eighth shot of the period that Miller gave Harvard its first goal of the weekend, deflecting a puck in front of the net off sophomore defenseman Ryan Healey’s shot from the blue line, ricocheting into the net at 7:47, making it a 2-1 game.

The momentum produced by Miller’s goal was quickly put on hold after Healey took a late elbowing penalty nine seconds after the goal. Colgate’s power play now threatened to put the game further out of reach in just the first few seconds of the penalty, as junior Raider forward Alex Dipaolo took a strong shot from the right hash off a teammate’s rebound shot.

Yet Harvard’s penalty kill held strong, and Colgate’s offensive production failed to create any further opportunities in the period. With just under two minutes to go, first-year Colgate forward Jake Schneider was penalized for tripping Harvard’s Ryan Healey, giving the Crimson its first powerplay of the evening. The power play carried into the next period with 20 seconds remaining and would bring Harvard within three shots of Colgate. Despite the opportunity, the powerplay dwindled down and resulted in no score for the Crimson.

The Crimson would still score just several minutes later, at 14:13, off a cross-pass from junior center Zakary Karpa to sophomore left wing Marek Hedjuk, who took the slap-shot one-timer for a Harvard goal on a two-on-one breakaway opportunity. Like Colgate’s quick two-goal sequence, Harvard netted its second goal just 23 seconds later, this time on a pass from first-year right wing Michael Callow to sophomore defenseman Mason Langenbrunner, which then was knocked in by sophomore center Casey Severo. The goal shot the Crimson into the lead 3-2 just over midway through the game.

Another Harvard penalty for cross-checking on junior defenseman Jack Bar still resulted in nothing for Colgate. The Crimson even managed to skate up the ice on a strong shorthanded opportunity from Healey, with a clean save from senior Colgate netminder Carter Gylander.

Harvard would continue to shoot and pummel the Raiders as it looked to extend its lead. On a second power play opportunity after Colgate was called for hooking, MacDonald crushed a shot off a rebound, with Severo and Healey assisting. Even after going up 4-2, Harvard continued with strong shot sequences in the final five minutes of the period, and closed with a strong save from sophomore goaltender Aku Koskenvuo.

Although the Crimson was now securely in the lead, the offensive onslaught continued, seeming to make up for the lack of offensive production in the previous game. MacDonald opened the third period scoring with an early 18:14 goal that slid under the legs of the Colgate netminder.

The team will look to generate another win before it competes in the Beanpot tournament next week.
The team will look to generate another win before it competes in the Beanpot tournament next week. By Dylan J. Goodman

The Raiders would strike back around the midpoint of the period with a pass from behind the crease into the slot by junior defenseman Tommy Bergsland to sophomore forward Simon Labelle that too went under the legs of the Harvard goaltender.

A late 3:03 goal by Joe Miller would officially seal the game, with Colgate’s goalie now off the ice in an attempt to score with an extra man on an empty net opportunity. This win not only gave Harvard much-needed points in the league rankings, but came against a team that most recently took down top teams in Quinnipiac, whom Harvard faces off against on Friday, and Princeton.

Still on every player’s mind is the Beanpot tournament held in the first two weeks of February. Miller recognized the difficulty of this next slate but believed that Harvard, when playing like it did on Saturday night, could still hold its own.

“As coach said many times to us this year, it's really about our team and how we play and how we show up every night and prepare,” he said. “I think that's the biggest thing for us. On nights like tonight when we put it together and we're playing connected hockey, we're really [a] tough team to play against.”

The Crimson will face Quinnipiac on Friday in Hamden, Conn. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ at 7:00 p.m. EST.

– Staff writer Nate M. Bolan can be reached at nathan.bolan@thecrimson.com.

– Staff writer Tommy Branca can be reached at tommy.branca@thecrimson.com.

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