CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In the season opener for the Ivy League, the Harvard Crimson relied on the quick skates of junior forward Kevin Du and rode a three-goal third period en route to a 6-2 victory over Dartmouth.
Du tallied two goals and two assists, including one for the highlight reels where he was hauled down from behind by Dartmouth defender Rob Jarvis yet still managed to fire a hard shot from his knees that found its way to the back of the net. That score came at 14:19 of the second period and it gave Harvard a 3-2 lead. But it wasn’t until the start of the third period that the Crimson really took control over the game.
It seemed, at least at the outset, as if the game was going to slip beyond Harvard’s control in the early going. Following the opening face off, not one minute elapsed before the Big Green had its first goal of the season, a quick score from forward Eric Przepiorka after a turnover deep in the Harvard defensive zone.
The two teams battled back and forth over the first period, with Dartmouth getting the better of the play until Du tied the score at 1-1 near the end of the first. Harvard freshman defenseman Jack Christian took a hard shot from the point that was slightly deflected but still headed towards Dartmouth netminder Sean Samuel. Du broke towards the net and tipped the puck, re-directing it past Samuel and evening the score at one goal apiece.
The second period started as inauspiciously for the Crimson as had the first, with Dartmouth scoring in less than a minute. This time it was forward Tanner Glass who fired a shot from the point that beat Harvard netminder John Daigneau high to his stick side.
The second period was more evenly matched than the first, but Dartmouth still controlled the majority of the play. Harvard managed to tie the game at 2-2 on a quick power-play goal. Du won the draw in the Dartmouth end. The puck was controlled by the Crimson’s Jon Pelle, who quickly passed it to defenseman Dylan Reese, and Reese in turn fired a hard shot into the top right corner of the net.
“It was a great goal [by Dylan], just a snipe into the top of the net,” said Du.
With the score knotted at 2, the play went back and forth. Then came Du’s shot from his knees, which helped to turn the tide of the game.
“It was a great head’s up play by Jimmy Fraser to throw it in the middle,” Du said. “I was able to out skate them and get pretty good body position on [Samuel], and it went over his glove.”
“It was a great effort by Du,” agreed Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet. “It was a big time goal. It was a really good individual effort.”
Despite outplaying its opponent for all of the first period and most of the second, despite outshooting Harvard 14 to 9 over the first two frames, Dartmouth still found itself trailing 3-2 entering the third.
“They played better, especially in the third period,” said Gaudet. “I thought for two periods we played really solid hockey, and then that fourth goal really deflated us.”
The goal in discussion came off the stick of freshman Nick Coskren at 1:59 of the third. It was set up by a breakup that resulted from the hustle of Paul Dufault, who beat Dartmouth to a loose puck in the neutral zone and out skated the Big Green defenders as he raced into the Dartmouth end.
Dufault skated in towards the net from Samuel’s right side, cut in front of the net and tried to slip the puck past the netminder. Samuel went down and made a strong save, but the rebound slipped out in front, and Coskren, who was skating in hard behind Dufault, tapped the rebound home.
From that point on Dartmouth was faced with a two-goal deficit, and when the Big Green attempted to be more aggressive offensively, it played right into Harvard’s hands.
“The fourth goal goes in, and now they’re up by two, and you have to open up [your style of play],” said Gaudet. “That’s the difference, we have to try to get after it and be a little more aggressive.”
Unfortunately for Dartmouth, the Crimson’s forwards turned the Big Green’s more aggressive offensive push into a number of odd-man rushes the other way.
“One of our strengths is our team speed,” said Crimson coach Ted Donato. “As a coach, you want to play to your strengths. Early on in the game we were turning the puck over too much and not getting enough play in their zone. When we were better with the puck… we really improved our game.”
The Crimson aggressively fore checked the Dartmouth attack, resulting in a number of turnovers and odd-man rushes. Samuel was peppered with 13 mostly-close range shots over the final period, and Harvard added two more goals before he was lifted with about five minutes left in the third.
Harvard and Dartmouth, matched up as travel partners this season in the ECACHL, will both be on the road next weekend taking on Quinnipiac and Princeton.