CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Friday night, Yale lost to Brown, 6-0. Harvard, likewise, crumbled in the third period, falling 4-2 against Princeton. Both teams entered Saturday’s old Ivy rivalry with something to prove, but it was the Crimson that made the game a statement, defeating Yale 4-1.
From the opening whistle, this Crimson team contrasted strongly with the listless squad that fell to Princeton; it skated hard, passed well, and was both physical and aggressive. And Yale (1-5-0, 1-3-0 ECAC) matched Harvard’s intensity for much of the game.
But the Crimson (2-2-1, 2-2-1), it seemed, was always one step quicker. The case in point came on the game’s first goal, a shorthanded bid by forward Dennis Packard.
Freshman forward Steve Mandes had been whistled for roughing at 2:25, giving Yale a man-adavantage. Yale set up in the Harvard end, but the Crimson gained possession and cleared the puck. Packard gave chase, with an Eli defender close on his heels. Yale goaltender Josh Gartner saw Packard closing on the puck and skated out to play it. Gartner reached it first and attempted to fire a clear but Packard blocked the clearing attempt with his chest and the puck dropped loose to his left along the boards. A quick stride over, and Packard had the puck, with Gartner a long way from his crease.
“I just fired it at the net,” Packard said. “I didn’t really see where it was going, it ended up going in.”
And it gave Harvard a lead it would never relinquish. The Crimson added to its advantage in the second period, scoring two goals in less than a minute near the seven-minute mark in the second.
Later that period, Packard had his hand in another score, as he led a 2-on-1 Harvard break into the Yale zone. Packard was skating up the right side, and linemate Tom Cavanagh was on his left; in between was Eli defenseman Shawn Mole. Packard skated in, drawing Gartner’s attention and causing Mole to drift over. He slipped a quick pass cross-ice to Cavangh, who chopped home the knuckling puck. That score gave Harvard a 4-0 lead, which it protected for the rest of the period.
At the start of the third, though, Yale’s offense finally connected. Captain Vin Hellemeyer, amongst a crowd in front of Harvard goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris, found the back of the net at 1:46 of the third. That goal, making the score 4-1 in favor of the Crimson, came 15 seconds after a Yale power play had expired.
From that point on, play, while still up-tempo at times, was more choppy and physical — four roughings and a hitting after the whistle penalties were called on the two teams. While the contest had been competitive all night, following the Hellemeyer goal Yale matched Harvard evenly the rest of the way, and outshot the Crimson in the final frame.
Unfortunately for Yale, that still left the final score 4-1 in favor of Harvard.
“A loss is a loss … [but] the game ended with our best period of the year, I thought,” Yale coach Tim Taylor said. “I thought we took a step forward in a losing effort.”
For his part, Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni thought his team rebounded well after its abysmal effort against Princeton and can head into its 10-day break before facing BU on an positive note.
“It was important to play well, and play the type of game we’re going to have to play to be successful,” Mazzoleni said.
“We have to bring a lunch-pail mentality to the rink,” he continued. “And if we don’t play that [way], we’re very beatable. We are. And it showed against Brown and against Princeton; we got outcompeted by both teams.”