CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In a game televised live on NESN but played before an especially sparse crowd at the Bright Hockey Center, the No. 15 Harvard Crimson (8-4-1, 7-4-0 ECACHL) defeated the Quinnipiac Bobcats (9-10-0, 3-7-0) by a score of 3-2.
Kevin Du played an important role in the Crimson’s victory, tallying the game’s first goal and assisting on Ryan Maki’s power-play score in the second period. But the real key to Harvard’s success was its ability to shut down the Quinnipiac offense. Through two periods Harvard’s defense held the Bobcats to only seven shots on net and 14 for the entire game. Throughout, the Crimson forced the majority of the play to occur in Quinnipiac defensive zone.
“I thought we played very well,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “I didn’t think they had many opportunities; I thought defensively we were very sound.”
“We were really able to shut them down five-on-five,” agreed Crimson captain Peter Hafner. “And we didn’t see a lot of shots.”
Du started off the scoring midway through the first. Skating into the Quinnipiac end beside forward Dan Murphy, the two crossed paths and Du dropped the puck back to Murphy. Murphy got off a hard shot that Quinnipiac netminder Bud Fisher deflected off his leg pad.
Du, after dropping the pass to Murphy, drove straight to the net and so was in prime position to gather the rebound. He tapped the puck into the open net, and that easy goal gave Harvard a 1-0 lead at 8:49 of the first.
Quinnipiac came back to tie the score almost six minutes later on a power-play goal from freshman forward David Marshall. Forward Mark Van Vliet was controlling the puck on Harvard goaltender John Daigneau’s right-hand side when he fired a quick, crossing pass to Marshall at the top of the crease. Neither Daigneau nor any other Harvard defender could rotate in time to stop Marshall from evening the score at 1.
A late penalty at the end of the first period to Van Vliet helped set up the go-ahead goal for Harvard in the second. The Crimson began the second period with 1:55 left on a man-advantage and for the first minute struggled to establish its power play in the Bobcat end.
Du, controlling the puck along the left sideboards, found a wide open Maki on Fisher’s doorstep, and Maki popped the puck home before Fisher could slide across the crease to challenge the shot. That power-play goal at 1:03 gave Harvard a 2-1 lead.
The Crimson controlled play but could not extend its lead further in the second.
At the start of the third, Harvard finally managed to add to its lead. While controlling the puck down low along the boards to Fisher’s left, Crimson forward Mike Taylor passed the puck up to Hafner, and Hafner fired a shot on net. Sophomore Paul Dufault was in the lane screening Fisher, and the netminder didn’t pick up the puck when Dufault tipped Hafner’s shot into the back of the net just 42 seconds into the third.
Quinnipiac pulled within a goal and threatened to tie the score later in the third, thanks in part to Harvard penalties. A pair of calls 18 seconds apart in the third to Jon Pelle and Tyler Magura presented Quinnipiac with a five-on-three advantage, and the Bobcats capitalized on their opportunity when top-line winger Jamie Bates came through in front only 27 seconds into the five-on-three.
Trailing 3-2 and faced with 1:33 of the old-fashioned variety of power play, Quinnipiac was unable to come up with another score and lost by one goal for the third time in three games.
“Three one-goal losses,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold. “It leaves a bitter taste.
“But [tonight] we weren’t getting pucks to the net,” he continued. “It was a 3-2 hockey game, but it certainly didn’t feel like a 3-2 hockey game. Give Harvard the credit.”
For the Bobcats, the loss brings their fall semester of hockey to a close; the team will prepare for final exams and then a holiday break and try to put memories of the last three games behind them. Over that brutal stretch, Quinnipiac played road games against three ranked teams — Colgate, Cornell and Harvard.
Quinnipiac will next take the ice for an exhibition game against Queens on January 2, and will resume its ECACHL schedule on January 6 by hosting Brown. The Crimson will take to the ice again on Thursday night against the No. 12 New Hampshire Wildcats at the Whittemore Center; the game will be broadcast live on local cable channel CN8 starting at 7 p.m.