CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Tom Cavanagh scored twice and Andrew Lederman notched the game-winner as the Harvard Crimson defeated the Princeton Tigers, 8-6, in a sloppy, power play-filled contest in front of 1,798 fans at the Bright Hockey Center.
“There are certainly a lot of things to go back to the drawing board with in a game like this,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “We accomplished what we set out to do this weekend.”
Which included sweeping a set from Yale and the Tigers at home. The Crimson, who scored just three goals in their first three games, threw 11 on the board in two nights.
The tallies came often tonight in a game that featured a combined 15 power play opportunities.
“There were eight power-play goals,” said first-year Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky, “so, yes, the penalties were a big part of the game.”
With Sebastian Borza off for hooking at 1:13 of the first period, it took little time for Harvard to jump on the scoreboard. Just 30 seconds into the man-advantage, senior captain Noah Welch’s misfired slapshot from the middle of the blueline fluttered its way through a maze of players and by Tigers netminder B.J. Sklapsky. It was Welch’s first of the season in his 100th game as a member of the Crimson.
Borza made amends, however, at 7:21 of the first when he stole the puck from Harvard’s Brendan Bernakevitch at the Crimson blueline and skated in alone on netminder Dov Grumet-Morris. Borza faked the goalie to the ice and backhanded the puck into the net for his first tally of the year.
The Crimson struck 4:30 into the second period when senior Rob Flynn chipped the puck out of his zone to Cavanagh, who had just jumped off the bench. The senior streaked into the Princeton zone 1-on-2, split the defense, faked Sklapsky to the ice and backhanded the puck by the netminder.
The Tigers tied the game at two just over four minutes later while skating 5-on-3. Sophomore Grant Goeckner-Zoeller passed the puck across the slot to defenseman Luc Paquin at the right point, who quickly dished it back to Goeckner-Zoeller for the one-timer into an empty Harvard net.
The game’s momentum shifted back the Crimson’s way at 10:36 when Princeton rookie Erik Pridham was sent off on a five-minute major for boarding Harvard freshman Dave MacDonald. The penalty would eventually become the difference-maker in the contest.
The Crimson capitalized with two goals on the man-advantage. The first came at 12:16 when Sklapsky kicked out Tom Walsh’s shot from the point right onto the stick of the Crimson’s Dan Murphy, who then buried the puck for his second of the season.
Sophomore Dylan Reese put Harvard up by two, 4-2, at 15:07, when he took a pass from Walsh at the right circle and slapped it through a screen from the middle of the blueline.
“Having to kill a five-minute penalty takes a lot out of a club,” said Gadowsky.
“Don’t blame the new officiating initiative,” he remarked regarding the abundance of calls in the game. “From our standpoint there were a lot of stupid penalties. There were a lot of stick calls, which will be called any year. Slashing wasn’t just put into the rulebook.”
Harvard made it 5-2 at 15:39, just three seconds after the Princeton major ended, when Bernakevitch stole the puck in the Tigers’ zone and fed Cavanagh, who broke down the slot and beat Sklapsky for his second of the game.
Princeton jumped back on the board at 17:54 while on a power play of its own. Defenseman Seamus Young whisked the puck from the right point to the left side of the net where junior Dustin Sproat waited for Grumet-Morris to hit the ice before lifting it into the top of the net for his fourth of the season.
Then came the third period, an even messier affair in which the teams combined for six goals — including three on the power play.
The Crimson ran off three goals in the first 8:03 of the final stanza as rookie Paul Dufault scored his first collegiate tally and Kevin Du put up his first marker of the season each off giveaways deep in the Princeton zone.
Sandwiched between those goals was Lederman’s eventual game-winner on the power play. Although, at the time, it seemed that the Crimson wouldn’t need the big lead.
“We were able to get it going on the power play,” said Donato, “using a lot of our options. We opened up some lanes. It is a big part of our team. Unfortunately, we would have liked to have kept it out of our net a bit.”
Donato was referring, particularly, to the three goals Princeton scored to close out the game. Sproat started the rally, at 9:35, with his second of the game off a rebound in front of Grumet-Morris that the Crimson defense failed to clear. It was the first of two more power play goals by the Tigers.
The next came at 14:02 when Goeckner-Zoeller scored a carbon copy of his earlier goal. Then, while skating 6-on-5 — Gadowsky pulled Sklapsky for an extra attacker for most of the game’s final four minutes — Princeton defenseman Luc Paquin’s shot from the point navigated its way through a screen and by Grumet-Morris. It was Paquin’s second of the year and fourth point on the evening to make it 8-6.
But that’s as close as the Tigers would come.
“The power play is a big part of our game,” said Paquin, “but the major didn’t help us. We need to be more disciplined as a team.”
Gadowsky agreed, and not just about tonight’s performance.
“We weren’t really happy with how we came out,” he said, “without mental focus regarding penalties against Brown [last night] when we had to kill two 5-on-3s in the first period.
“We’re just not going to win many hockey games this way. You hope they are easy corrections to make. If not, this is how the results will be all year.”
Grumet-Morris made 29 saves to Sklapsky’s 30. Harvard (2-2-1, 2-2-1 ECACHL), which hosts Boston College on Tuesday, finished the night 4-9 on the power play, while Princeton (2-3-1, 2-2-0) connected on four of six opportunities.