GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Harvard scored one goal in the third period and then withstood North Dakota’s furious rally attempt in the game’s closing minutes to capture a 1-0 nonconference victory at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
With 1:43 left in the game and UND on the power play, Sioux coach Dave Hakstol pulled goalie Philippe Lamoureux for an extra attacker. But despite a 6-on-4 advantage, the Sioux couldn’t get the puck past Crimson sophomore goalie John Daigneau, who preserved the shutout and the road win.
“The guys did a good job of keeping them on the outside and letting me see shots so I could make saves,” Daigneau said. “It’s a great defensive team effort tonight.”
Although UND has four freshmen (defensemen Brian Lee and Taylor Chorney and forwards T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews) competing at the World Junior Championships in Vancouver, a clearly frustrated Hakstol refused to use their absence as an excuse for his team’s loss.
“It doesn’t matter. I worry about the guys that are in the lineup,” he said. “The guys that are in the lineup played pretty well in the last 15 minutes of the game. Where was everybody in the first 45 minutes? That’s something they better figure out inside the locker room.”
“It was a poor effort,” Sioux captain Matt Smaby admitted. “We weren’t prepared. It doesn’t matter who’s gone. We’ve got to show up and play. It’s too bad that we waited two periods to get it going. ”
Throughout the first two periods, neither team generated much offense. Harvard had 15 shots on goal to UND’s 13. After the Crimson went up 1-0 early in the third period, UND outshot Harvard 16-6, largely as the result of three straight Sioux power plays during the last half of the period.
“Once it started to wind down, I could see a change in their demeanor,” Daigneau said. “I thought they took it to us there toward the end of the game. You kind of have to let it all hang out at that point. You’re down a goal, so you need to put pressure on.”
Sophomore forward Mike Taylor’s game-winner came just 1:31 into the third period. On a 2-on-1 rush, he beat Lamoureux with a wrist shot from the right circle to break the scoreless tie. Taylor had a similar opportunity in the first period, but this time followed coach Ted Donato’s advice.
“I tried to make a fancy pass back to the middle and it didn’t work,” Taylor said. “The coach told me to shoot it, so that’s what I was thinking when I was coming down the right wing: ‘I got to get a shot on net.’
“I kind of cut to the middle and tried to use the (defenseman) as a screen, and it ended up going in far side,” he said.
Leading the ECAC, Harvard’s success this season against the nation’s top-rated teams is no surprise to Donato.
“I think the obvious thing is that we’re a pretty good team,” he said. “We’ve got good hockey players. We expect to have a good game. Do we expect to win? Yeah, we do. In our locker room, we expect to win every night we go out on the ice.”
Daigneau said the road win over UND bodes well for the Crimson.
“It’s a big confidence boost to us knowing that we can compete with a team of this caliber,” he said. “Just looking around the rink and all the banners they have, they’re definitely one of the top programs in the last 10 years. To come in here and come out with a victory after a hard-fought battle is definitely a confidence boost.”
In contrast, Hakstol fumed about his team’s lack of effort and its 4-6 record at home.
“Here on home ice, if you want to leave a game to one good play or a bounce of the puck in the last 20 minutes, well, this is what you get. You get a 1-0 loss,” he said.
Harvard’s record improves to 10-5-1 (7-5-0 ECAC) while UND falls to 12-8-1 (6-6 WCHA). The two teams will meet for the second game of the series at 7:35 p.m. Friday in Engelstad Arena.