SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Eleven months ago, Harvard came into Messa Rink, scored three goals on four shots in just over five minutes and rolled to an 8-1 victory over Union. The Dutchmen claimed that they had forgotten about that game. But it had to be in the back of their minds, because the effort they gave against the 14th-ranked and ECACHL-leading Crimson Friday was much better. Although the game ended in a 1-1 tie, the Dutchmen were very pleased with the result.
“We’re a team that, because we’re so young, we’re up and down sometimes,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “We’ve had some down games. Colgate and Minnesota come to mind. But we’ve also shown that when we play as a group and we play together, we’re as good as anyone. As a group, the challenge is finding our consistency because we are a pretty good when we play hard and when we play together.”
Dutchmen goalie Kris Mayotte stated the obvious. And then he got serious.
“It was a seven-goal difference,” said Mayotte, who made 25 saves. “I’ve been saying all along that when our team plays, we’re a good team. Harvard beat [North Dakota] last weekend, and their 13th in the country. I think we had the better of the chances.”
The Dutchmen (3-3-1 ECACHL, 10-8-3 overall), who are 6-0-3 at home this season, didn’t allow a goal in the first five minutes like last year. In fact, neither team scored until late in the third period. The tie also took away the sting of last Thursday’s 8-0 loss at Minnesota, a game in which Union was down, 2-0, after the first 3:39.
“I thought they played hard,” Leaman said. “I really thought tonight that the key was the first 10 minutes, to kind of wipe away that last game we had against [Harvard], to wipe away Minnesota a little bit and just stick it out and build our confidence a little bit for the first 10 minutes. I thought our guys did a good job of that.”
Union also did an excellent job of shutting down Harvard’s power play. The Crimson (7-5-1, 10-6-2) were 0-for-4, and had just two shots on goal in those opportunities.
“They made it difficult for us to get to the net for rebounds,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “On our side of it, I would like us to compete harder in those tough areas — get pucks to the net, take it there, take hits to make plays [and] I didn’t think we utilized our speed as much as I would liked.”
The Dutchmen scored the game’s first goal with 4:40 left in regulation. Lane Caffaro cleared the puck out of the Union zone and down the right-wing boards. Augie DiMarzo picked it up in the Harvard zone, and then waited for T.J. Fox to skate down the slot. Fox one-timed DiMarzo’s perfect pass past goalie John Daigneau.
“I saw [Caffaro] chip the puck off the glass,” Fox said. “I was at the end of a shift, but I saw Augie all by himself. I beat my man. It was a nice pass.”
The lead lasted 53 seconds. Peter Hafner’s right-point shot was deflected by Alex Meintel and past Mayotte’s right pad. That ended Mayotte’s home shutout streak at 188:56.
Both teams had excellent chances to win it in overtime. Daigneau stoned Olivier Bouchard from close range with just under three minutes to go. Mayotte stopped a Hafner shot with 40 seconds left. The puck bounced around crazily after that. Donato thought the puck had gone it.
“That was news to me,” Mayotte said. “I thought I saw it most of the way. The only time I didn’t see it was when it came back through. The only time it could have gone in was when there was a scramble for it toward the let. When I turned around, it wasn’t even close to the line. Lane made a great play. He dove across the net to swat it out.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.