SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union coach Kevin Sneddon wanted his players to shoot the puck often, and they did against defending ECAC tournament champion Harvard.
The only problem was, the Dutchmen had trouble getting the puck past goalie Dov Grumet-Morris. The outstanding sophomore stopped 29 shots, giving up only a penalty-shot goal to Glenn Sanders, as 13th-ranked and ECAC-leading Harvard captured a 3-1 win over Union at Achilles Rink.
“He played great tonight,” Sneddon said. “I certainly thought [Union goalie] Kris Mayotte played a very good game, but Grumet-Morris was the MVP of the game in my mind.”
Grumet-Morris improved to 3-0 against the Dutchmen (3-4-1 ECAC, 7-10-3 overall), who have lost four straight. He made 32 saves in a 4-0 win Feb. 23 of last year. This season, he made 24 saves in a 7-4 triumph on Nov. 29.
“I think, at times, when you look at the way people critique our team, some people say that one the weakest parts of our team is our goaltender,” Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said. “Anyone that watched what happened at the end of last year, he was the major reason why we were able to make the transition we did. His play has been excellent this year. He has been steady every night.”
Grumet-Morris stopped 13 shots in the first period. Many of them were quality opportunities. His best save came with 1:19 left. Grumet-Morris stopped Joel Beal’s redirection in front of a Nathan Gillies pass from the right corner.
“I thought we outplayed them in the first period, we just didn’t shoot the puck,” Grumet-Morris said. “[Beal's shot] was definitely a close play. I saw him go for the pass, so I just tried to move laterally as quickly as I could to take away the low part of the net.”
Midway through the second period, Grumet-Morris made a great glove save on a hard wrist shot by defenseman Brent Booth. That stop protected a 1-0 lead for Harvard (10-2, 11-5-1), which got a goal by Tom Cavanagh early in the period.
“We definitely ran into a hot goalie tonight,” Beal said. “What’s more frustrating than a hot goalie is when you’re working so hard to get your chances and opportunities, and we give them some weak goals.”
Brett Nowak scored a crushing goal with four-tenths of a second left in the second period. He was allowed to skate unchecked from the right-wing boards in the Union zone to the slot. Nowak fired a wrist shot over Mayotte’s glove.
Dominic Moore’s power-play goal at 7:31 made it 3-0. Sanders ended Grumet-Morris’ shutout bid with 4:35 left in the game. He was pulled down on a short-handed breakaway by Noah Welch down the right wing. Sanders came in on Grumet-Morris, and backhanded the puck past the goalie, who got a piece of it with his pad.
Sanders is the first Union Division I player to score on a penalty shot. It was just Union’s second-ever penalty shot attempt.
“I was a wreck,” Sanders said. “The goalie didn’t give me much choice. He came way out of his net, so I tried to walk around him. Luckily, it went in.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.