CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Now you see it, now you don’t.
Sometimes preventing the goaltender from seeing the puck for a split second can be the difference between a win and a loss.
The Harvard Crimson (14-5-2, 11-4-1 ECACHL) proved that theory again Friday evening scoring two screened goals, including defenseman Dylan Reese’s tally with 58 seconds left in the game, to edge the Dartmouth Big Green (11-9-2, 8-7-0), 2-1, before 2,776 fans at Bright Hockey Center.
“The guys persevered,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “The second half was more indicative of the type of team we have.”
The first half of the contest wasn’t pretty for the Crimson.
“The group was not happy with the first period,” said Donato. “I’d be crazy to think Dartmouth did not have something to do with it. Maybe a lot of things had come easily recently.”
The coach’s reference was to Harvard’s last three victories, which came by a combined score of 20-4.
“We were very frustrated,” said Reese. “We came out flat and we knew it. I’m not sure if we were looking ahead to the Beanpot.”
“We had a tough time in practice this week,” said Harvard sophomore
Ryan Maki, “and it carried over. Maybe we were lackadaisical.”
Whatever the reason, it was trouble for the Crimson in the early going.
Dartmouth jumped on the board in the first period when junior Mike Ouellette put home a loose puck in front of the Harvard goal that bounced off the shin guard of Crimson defenseman Noah Welch and eluded goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris. For Ouellette, it was his seventh goal on the season and it came at 12:32.
Unfortunately for the Big Green, it would be their only lead of the game. In the meantime, they were forced to kill off three power plays in the first period, including being down two men.
Dartmouth almost repeated the effort in the second stanza, but late in the middle frame the Crimson made the visitors pay for their steady march to the penalty box.
“I thought the team played really hard,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, “and really well. It was a weird game in that the shots were pretty even but the power plays were lopsided.”
On its sixth straight power-play opportunity, Harvard executed perfectly when junior Charlie Johnson took a pass from classmate Tom Walsh and skated just inside the blueline off the right boards. Johnson waited until Maki positioned himself in front of Dartmouth netminder Dan Yacey and then ripped a slapshot that Maki tipped into the goal for his fifth of the year at 17:25.
“It was a great play by Walsh to get the puck to Charlie,” said Maki. “He threw it at the net and it hit my body and shin. I wish I could
say that I redirected it, but it was a lucky play.”
As play unfolded in the third period, neither team seemed to be able to
gain momentum until Harvard took control in the game’s final minutes.
In what was a series of stellar opportunities over the last five
minutes, the Crimson were denied by the post on sophomore Steve Mandes’
wide-open shot from the slot and saw Yacey turn aside rookie Dave Watters’
breakaway, Tyler Magura’s shot on a 2-on-1 and both Johnson and senior
Andrew Lederman’s attempts within a second of each other.
“Yacey was super,” said Gaudet. “He was excellent.”
Harvard kept the pressure up, though, until Reese popped the winner at 19:02 when he took a pass from defense partner Ryan Lannon and wristed a shot through a screen off Yacey’s stick and into the net. It was the blueliner’s sixth goal of the season.
“I can’t say enough about Lannon’s passes recently,” said Reese. “Lannon really made the play.
“I haven’t scored a big goal like that in a while. It’s a great feeling and great for momentum. It was good to get a win against a good team under our belt.”
Dartmouth pulled Yacey for the final 47 seconds of the contest, but could not convert. Its best chance came when sophomore defenseman Ben Lovejoy snuck in from the right point for a one-timer, but the shot went right into the body of the diving Maki with seven seconds left.
“It looked like the defenseman was sneaking down,” said Maki. “I jumped over and blocked it. I just try to do what I can.”
“It was a bounce of the puck at the end,” said Gaudet. “Sometimes the puck has eyes, but it didn’t for us tonight.”
Yacey finished the game with 27 saves to Grumet-Morris’s 31. Dartmouth was 0-2 on the power play, while Harvard was 1-6.
The Big Green move on to play at Brown on Saturday. The Crimson, meanwhile, next play on Monday in the opening game of the Beanpot tournament.