SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union goalie Justin Mrazek and Harvard forward Jon Pelle were both going after the same thing late in the third period Saturday. They were chasing after a rebound of a Paul Dufault shot that Mrazek had stopped.
Mrazek dove in an attempt to cover the puck. Pelle took a whack at it.
Pelle won. He chipped the puck over Mrazek and into the net with four minutes left in the game to snap a 2-2 tie and give the Crimson a 3-2 ECACHL win over the Dutchmen at Messa Rink.
The tally capped a two-goal comeback by Harvard (5-7 ECACHL, 7-10 overall). The Crimson trailed, 2-1, entering the third.
“They put a puck directly on me,” Mrazek said. “It bounced out. I didn’t control the rebound very well, and I tried to recover it. I tried to bring it in with my stick, but it bounced over and [Pelle] just put it right in behind. Everybody hacked at it at once, it looked like. They got the better half of the puck, and it fluttered into the net.”
Pelle credited Dufault with setting up the goal.
“Dufault made a great play along the wall,” Pelle said. “He picked off the pass, and took it to the net. I just followed up the loose change in front.”
That goal, along with Alex Meintel’s tying tally 3:30 earlier, didn’t sit well with Union coach Nate Leaman, who arrived at the start of the second period after returning from Sweden at 7:10 p.m., three minutes after the game started. Leaman was an assistant coach for the bronze medal-winning Team USA in the World Junior Hockey Championship.
“I was pleased with our effort,” Leaman said. “I thought, in that third period, we made two defensive errors. I thought we were running around too much in our [defensive] zone. We didn’t show enough poise back there. We made two basic hockey errors in the third period.”
Any hopes of Union (2-7, 9-9-2) tying the game were dashed with 2:10 left.
After Dutchmen forward Josh Coyle was knocked down in a scrum in front of the Harvard net, he started to skate back toward the bench. He collided with assistant referee Derek Sylvester. Coyle pushed Sylvester away, and Sylvester called him for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Dutchmen killed off the power play, but were never able to pull Mrazek for an extra skater until there was 1.7 seconds left. A neutral zone faceoff with that time left on the clock sealed the Dutchmen’s fate.
“That was my fault,” Coyle said. “I overreacted trying to get to the bench. I didn’t realize I pushed the linesman that hard. I put myself ahead of the team.”
The Crimson took a 1-0 lead 32 seconds into the game. Steve Rolecek led a two-on-one rush down the left wing into the Union zone. He passed the puck to Doug Rogers on the right, and Rogers lifted it over a sliding Mrazek.
The Dutchmen came back in the second period and took a one-goal lead. Coyle scored a power-play goal at 3:42, beating goalie Kyle Richter from the left circle with his eighth goal of the season.
T.J. Fox scored his eight goal of the year at 8:19, getting a shot past Richter from the bottom of the right circle.
“Union battled back,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “They’re playing exceptionally well right now. They had some guys who stepped up and made some plays. We were able to stem the tide a little bit at the end of the second period, and regrouped in the third.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.