CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Held scoreless for its first 80 minutes of play this season, the Harvard Crimson finally lit up the red light in the second period Friday night against Dartmouth. And once sparked, the Harvard offense didn’t stop until the waning seconds of a 5-2 Crimson victory.
The second period was the time of Harvard’s ignition; the key was found in a strategy of crashing the net for rebounds that coach Mark Mazzoleni had emphasized all week after watching how easily Brown goaltender Yann Danis turned away Harvard’s shots from the point in the season opener.
In the first period, the Crimson (1-1-0, 1-1-0 ECAC) looked content to follow a similar pattern, settling for shots from a distance without having men in front of the net to dig for pucks. The tide started to turn when Harvard, down 1-0 in the second, began attacking the net after every shot. The positive results were close behind as center Brett Nowak tallied his first goal of the season on a short-range shot from a drive across the front of the crease at 7:08 of the second.
The Crimson struck again three minutes later on a power play, when captain Dominic Moore, stuck along the side boards, directed a pass to right wing Tim Pettit, set up behind the net. Pettit one-timed it to winger Tyler Kolarik in front of the net who wristed a shot over Dartmouth goaltender Nick Boucher?s left shoulder to put Harvard up 2-1.
Matching penalties to Harvard defenseman Dave McCulloch and Dartmouth forward Eric Przepiorka left the teams skating four-on-four, which enabled Moore to net the eventual game-winning goal at 13:00 of the second off a nice blue-line pass from defenseman Kenny Smith.
Moore and Kolarik would both tally last minute goals; Moore’s an empty-netter, to seal the Crimson victory. In Harvard’s big offensive three, Nowak finished with a goal and an assist, while Moore and Kolarik both had two goals and one assist.
“Any team leans on certain people,” Mazzoleni said. “Those guys — Tyler, Dom, Brett Nowak — they came through for us tonight.”
Dartmouth (1-2-0, 0-1-0) was able to keep the game close for so long, down by one for much of the third period, with strong goaltending from Boucher, who turned aside 28 shots in the losing effort, and a potent power play. Heading into the game, the Big Green had scored six of eight goals on the power play. Both of Dartmouth’s goals came with the man advantage, including the strike by winger Lee Stempniak with just over six minutes left in the third to pull Dartmouth within striking distance.
Within one, Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet pushed his team for more offense to tie the score, and the Big Green and Crimson traded quality scoring chances over the last minutes of the game. Gaudet pulled Boucher from net in favor of the extra attacker with less than a minute left before Moore iced the game with an empty netter. Kolarik’s second goal, and the game’s last, came on a rush to the net with two clock ticks remaining.
“This is a good team we’re playing against,” Gaudet said. “I thought we worked hard. We came in against the No. 1 team in our league, in their building . . .I thought it was a close game.”
Gaudet received no disagreement from Mazzoleni, who felt like his team battled hard all night, something he saw lacking last week against Brown.
“I thought we had to earn everything we got tonight,” Mazzoleni said.
“We have to compete every night to get a win,” Moore added. “We stuck to our guns. Tonight was a must win.”