PROVIDENCE, R.I. — With Harvard coming off 20 days of exam break and the Beanpot starting in a few days, one never knows what to expect. Saturday, on the road at Brown, the Crimson battled but were again bested by goaltender Yann Danis as Brown took a 2-1 overtime win.
After giving up a goal five minutes into the game, Danis shut the door on Harvard’s talented forwards, stopping a total of 38 shots. Harvard had a number of quality chances, but Danis showed why he is a Hobey Baker candidate with smooth and confident saves on Tim Pettit and Tom Cavanagh in the third.
Danis shut out Harvard with 20 saves in the season opener.
“I thought we played a very good game all over the ice,” said Harvard head coach Mark Mazzoleni. “The only thing we could have done better was to wait for [Danis] to graduate.”
In the other net, Harvard’s Dov Grumet-Morris was equally impressive for much of the game. The Bears managed to get 29 shots on him, and he stood tall to send a fast pace and spirited game into overtime at 1-1.
His best save came on a 2-on-1, when Brown linemates Brent Robinson and a gloveless Les Haggett connected. Grumet-Morris came streaking out of the net to make the save.
But without the heroics of Brown senior Nick Ringstad, this goaltenders’ duel would have ended in a tie. Ringstad has been a role player in his first three years at Brown. But this year, Ringstad finds himself on the second power-play unit and Saturday netted his third game winner of the year.
Just :31 into the overtime, Ringstad’s second line featuring two freshmen (ECAC leading scorer Brian Ihnacak and Sean Dersch) was on the ice for a faceoff in the Harvard end. Ringstad, a good faceoff man, drew it directly across to Dersch, who fired a quick shot on net. Ringstad got free for the rebound. He made an extra move around Grumet-Morris to send a sellout crowd home happy.
“I have been in the right place at the right time this year,” Ringstad said. “I remember winning the draw to my winger for a quick shot. Then I just was doing all I could to get to the rebound.”
Ringstad’s line put pressure on all night. Dersch had a number of good scoring chances, and Ihnacak was creating as usual.
“I think we’re having success because we are getting the puck deep and talking a lot,” Dersch said. “I’ve been with good linemates all year, and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
Harvard’s first goal came on the seemingly-longest power play in history. With an extra man, the Crimson took the puck in Brown’s end and fired shots on Danis from all over the ice. Danis was finally beaten on a shot from the slot by freshman center Kevin Du, the beneficiary of a patient play by Brendan Bernakevitch.
Brown trailed 1-0 until it got even on a power play of their own late in the second. Haggett fed Robinson, who made a great centering pass to defenseman Vince Macri. Macri fired his shot off a defender and in for his fourth goal of the year.
Both teams gave up odd-man chances throughout the third, but the play of Danis and Grumet-Morris took the game to overtime. The Crimson showed signs of dominance, but the hard work of Brown’s defenders and Danis’ brilliance made this one a nailbiter.
Of his overtime speech to his players, Brown head coach Roger Grillo said, “‘You have played well enough to give yourself a chance to win.’ I told them that we shouldn’t just lay back and take the tie, but play for the win.”
Brown, despite playing a full schedule over the past few weeks, has had its ECAC schedule interrupted, but remains on top. The Bears won their last conference game at home in similar fashion, a 2-1 overtime win over Cornell. They have now lost just three of their last 30 games in Meehan Auditorium.