HAMILTON, N.Y. — Harvard’s hardworking Tom Cavanagh hit on all cylinders on Friday night, as the junior’s hat trick hoisted his team to a 4-2 victory over Colgate at Starr Rink.
Cavanagh’s second goal midway through the third period proved not only to be the game-winning tally, but also one of the prettiest goals of the year. Outnumbered on a two-on-three rush, the Warwick, R.I., native deked his way through Raider defender Eamon Del Giacco and flicked a seeing-eye wrist shot over the shoulder of goaltender Steve Silverthorn, securing his team a 3-2 advantage.
“[Tom]‘s got a great release,” praised Crimson head coach Mark Mazzoleni. “He looked like Joe Sakic on that goal. He’s got such a quick release that he caught the goaltender flatfooted with it.”
The goal seemed an anomaly, as the other scoring, in reflection of the style of the game, came ugly. Colgate (5-6-2, 2-3-0 ECAC) scored first with a give-and-go sequence that found Dave Thomas crashing the net for a redirection halfway through the opening period. The Crimson tied things up less than three minutes later with an ugly power-play goal that banked in off a couple of Raiders and through Silverthorn’s legs.
Harvard (5-3-1, 4-3-1) took their first lead of the night early in the second period with yet another goal on the man advantage. Sophomore Dan Murphy redirected a shot from the blue line past the Colgate netminder for his first point of the year. Despite scoring twice with the extra man, Mazzoleni was disappointed with his power play.
“I think we’re struggling to get the puck to the net,” he said. “On that second power play I put a line out there that had never played the power play before. They just threw the puck at the net and it went in. We’ve got to get the puck to the net and find the open man.”
The Raiders answered the Crimson charge with an inelegant power-play goal of their own. Surprising sophomore Jon Smyth banked a redirection of Kyle Wilson’s slapshot off the back of Harvard goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris to even the score at 2.
Colgate returned in the final frame with a passion, but could not sneak the pill past a flailing Grumet-Morris. The senior goalie found himself on his belly on multiple occasions as he fought off 12 third-period shots.
“I thought the game could have gone either way,” said Colgate head coach Stan Moore. “I think we matched their skill with our tenacity and physicality. I thought for sure we were going to take the lead a number of times, but we didn’t. We found a way to shoot ourselves in the foot. We need to put even more minutes of consistent play on the board in order to come out on top.”
Grumet-Morris made a particularly thrilling save on an Adam Mitchell rebound chance following Cavanagh’s second goal, as he refused to allow the home team back into the contest.
“On the first shot I got a piece, but unfortunately he had backed me into the crease,” said Grumet-Morris. “The guy got a rebound, so I just put a glove up and fortunately I blocked it. Our backchecker did a great job of picking up that puck afterwards, or else it would have been a sure goal.”
With less than a minute remaining Cavanagh found himself with the puck on his stick and an open goal in front of him. His empty-net goal secured him a hat trick and his team the 4-2 victory.
“Tommy Cavanagh was very unheralded because of Dominic Moore and Brett Novak,” said Mazzoleni. “He patiently kept his mouth shut and waited for his opportunity, and now all of a sudden he’s a number-one center and he’s producing. I had no question he would be an excellent number-one center for us.”
Colgate’s task becomes no easier, welcoming ECAC-leading Brown on Saturday night. Moore remains undaunted by the second half of the difficult league weekend.
“We’ll approach Brown the same way we approach every night,” he said. “We need to put together more minutes with more intensity, and we need to remember where we’re playing. Mostly, we need to make sure that we’re playing to win. Always playing to win.”
Meanwhile, Harvard must travel to difficult Lynah Rink to face rival Cornell in a rematch of last year’s ECAC championship, in which the Big Red ousted the Crimson in a nailbiter. The Crimson now hopes to carry momentum into what is expected to be a grueling battle.
“Coming off of a loss you always want to come back with a win,” said Grumet-Morris. “We knew Colgate was going to play us hard, and obviously on the road it was a little bit uglier than at home, but it was a good win and hopefully it will give us momentum going into Ithaca tomorrow night.”