CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Union coach Nate Leaman expected to have a top-notch offensive team this season, and he believes he still will.
Maybe that’s why he wasn’t that disappointed with his team’s effort Saturday against Harvard, even though, for the second straight night, the Dutchmen were shut out.
Harvard goalie Kyle Richter stymied the Dutchmen, making 27 saves in a 4-0 ECAC Hockey victory Saturday at the Bright Hockey Center.
Friday night, Dartmouth goalie Mike Devine made 29 saves in a 4-0 Big Green win. The last time Union (0-2-2 ECACH, 2-4-2 overall) were blanked in consecutive games was Feb. 26 and March 4, 2005.
The Dutchmen have gone 131 minutes, two seconds since Stephane Boileau’s power-play goal with 6:02 left in the third period in last Saturday’s 3-3 tie with Yale. However, Leaman isn’t bothered by that. He saw Union outshoot Harvard (3-1, 3-1), 27-21, the seventh time this season it has had more shots in a game. The Dutchmen attempted more shots than Harvard, 65-37.
“The offense is going. The puck’s just not going in the net,” Leaman said. “We’re outchancing our opponents. We’ve outshot opponents in every game this year, except St. Lawrence [Oct. 27]. I’m not disappointed in the offense. I’m disappointed that we’re not finishing it off. We’re missing some empty nets.”
Saturday, there were two good examples of how Union can’t get a goal.
Down 2-0 late in the first period, Dutchmen defenseman Lane Caffaro had a wide open net after taking a pass from Adam Presizniuk. Caffaro skated to the left circle and fired, but Richter somehow got a piece of the puck and knocked it aside.
“Usually, you’re complaining if you’re not getting your opportunities,” Caffaro said. “But we’re getting our opportunities. We’re just not finishing.”
Dutchmen forward Torren Delforte had reason to be frustrated late in the second. He weaved his way through three Harvard defenders in the Crimson right circle, and had some room to beat Richter, but Richter, who blanked Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 3-0, Friday, quickly got his glove up to rob Delforte.
“I got to the middle, and I flubbed it a little bit,” Delforte said. “I got it high, higher than high, and I had him beat. But I shot it right in his glove.”
Meanwhile, the Crimson made the most of their chances.
Mike Taylor opened the scoring less than seven minutes into the game, beating goalie Corey Milan with a shot from the left wing. Chris Huxley made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 9:45 of the first; his wrist shot from the top of the slot beat a screened Milan over his right shoulder.
Harvard sealed the win with two third-period goals. Paul Dufault drove to the net and beat Milan at 9:23. Nearly three minutes later, with the Dutchmen on their seventh power play of the game, Tyler Magura got a short-handed goal.
Despite the setback, Leaman predicts the Dutchmen will break out of their slump.
“When one comes, I know they’re all going to come,” Leaman said. “The guys played great tonight. I thought we carried the play for most of the game. You have to give their goaltender a lot of credit; I thought he made some real big saves there.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY