CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — With a possible bye in the ECACHL playoffs and positioning in the Pairwise Rankings on the line, the Harvard Crimson (16-10-2, 12-8-2 ECACHL) defeated the St. Lawrence Saints, 3-2.
“It was a hard fought game,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “But I don’t think it was our prettiest effort.”
“I think our guys realized the importance of this game,” he said. “We knew we needed a win.”
The Saints (18-13-2, 12-8-1) also needed a win, and they came into Cambridge hoping to avenge a close 4-3 loss that the team suffered earlier in the season at the hands of the Harvard.
Just like the teams’ last encounter after Thanksgiving in Canton, N.Y., St. Lawrence was the first to mark the scoreboard when center Chase Trull found the back of the net at 19:09 of the first. He fired a hard shot from between the two face-off circles that completely eluded Harvard netminder John Daigneau and gave the Saints a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Although the Saints scored first in both games against Harvard this season, the two games were radically different. When St. Lawrence lost the previous game by a narrow 4-3 margin, the final score was deceptive because two of the Saints’ three goals came in the last two minutes of play.
Despite the difference on the scoreboard, St. Lawrence controlled almost all the aspects of the game and outshot Harvard 46 to 16 over the course of three periods.
Tonight’s game was more even statistically, but had the counterintuitive element of also being a “closer” game for the Saints. They maintained that 1-0 lead into the second period, until Harvard sophomore winger Dave Watters got his stick on the puck following a hard blue-line shot from Dylan Reese. Amidst the traffic in front, Watters put the puck home to tie the score at 1-1.
The play continued to go back-and-forth over the course of the next few minutes until the ECACHL’s leading scorer St. Lawrence senior T.J. Trevelyan made a great individual effort to give his team back the lead.
Trevelyan’s goal came at 10:53 of the second period following Shawn Fensel’s hard shot on the Harvard net from Daigneau’s left-hand side. That shot was sharply deflected and the puck rose high up into the air. It seemed to hang for minutes rather than seconds, but eventually dropped right beside the Crimson’s Jon Pelle at the face-off circle to Daigneau’s right.
Pelle was at first unaware that the puck had dropped beside him, but Trevelyan somehow managed to keep his eye on the puck and skate across the zone before the puck touched down on the ice. He swept in on the puck and he fired a blistering turnaround slap shot with which Daigneau could not keep up.
“It just beat me inside the post,” said Daigneau about Trevelyan’s impressive goal. “It was simply a great play by T.J. [Trevelyan].”
Trevelyan’s goal gave the Saints a short-lived 2-1 lead, but Harvard’s Dan Murphy tied the game at 15:20 of the second and went on to score the game-winner just over eight minutes into the third.
The Crimson’s top line of the senior Murphy and juniors Kevin Du and Ryan Maki had given the Saints trouble all game, but this shift was probably its best of the night. Maki passed the puck from the right side to Du near center ice, and Du skated quickly across the blue line and into the Saints’ zone.
He dropped off a pass to Murphy, who quickly sent a snipe on net from atop the left face-off circle. Murphy’s aim was true-he roofed the puck, slipping it just under the crossbar and beating St. Lawrence netminder Justin Pesony high and to the far side of the net.
“It’s been tough to win on the road this year,” said St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh after the game. “We’ve had a lot of one-goal losses [and tonight] they got a good goal to win it.”
The win was Harvard’s fifth straight against St. Lawrence, and moved the teams into a tie for fourth place in the ECACHL with only one game left to play. St. Lawrence will travel north to face Dartmouth tomorrow night, while Harvard will play host to Clarkson.
“Hopefully we’ll build off this game and take the momentum into tomorrow night’s game,” said Daigneau.