CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Despite a huge endowment and alumni of affluence and power, the Yale Bulldogs couldnt buy a bounce on Friday night.
The Harvard Crimson rode three-point nights from Jon Pelle and Doug Rogers and a huge game from goalie Kyle Richter to a 6-1 victory over their luckless rivals in front of two and a half thousand at the Bright Hockey Center. The Crimson scored a season-high three power play goals (in eight chances), and never looked back after building a 3-0 first-period lead.
The win broke the 20-point deadlock in the standings between the programs, and also handed the head-to-head tiebreaker to Harvard.
Were real excited, said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. We came into this game knowing that the two points are huge.
It was a strange hockey game, said a terse Keith Allain following his teams defeat. We were not as bad as the score but youve got to give Harvard credit, he concluded.
The hosts had to weather nearly as ferocious a blizzard inside the rink as existed out in the Boston night as the game commenced. The Eli (12-10-4, 8-7-4) controlled play early, forcing Richter to warm up quickly before Harvard warmed up in its own right.
Junior defenseman Brian McCafferty scored the first goal of the game on a power play wristshot at the 13:52 mark. Holding the puck out in left-centerfield, the six-foot local released a laser that a partially screened Billy Blase didnt pick up in time. The rubber squeaked through the fast-closing gap between Blases glove and his outstretched left leg.
Not four minutes later, Pelle scored his first of two on the night. Immediately following a successful penalty kill, Paul Dufault jerked an optimistic backhand off Blase from low on the goaltenders right side. The puck popped across the crease on the rebound, where the senior winger Pelle stuck it over the diving Blase.
One minute and 39 seconds later, the Cantabs had a field goal on the board.
Freshman and Somerville, Mass. product Matt McCollem, from practically up the street from the Harvard campus, received a feed from Rogers high on Blases left. McCollem took a shot that kicked hard out to the goalies right, where an unattended Mike Taylor easily swept it around the prone and over-committed keeper.
Following the first period of play, the Crimson held a 13-9 advantage in shots.
Perhaps getting Richter involved early was the wrong idea for the Bulldogs, who found nothing but sorrow early in the second frame.
Allain elected to lift Blase in favor of junior Alec Richards to start the second. Two minutes later, there was no goalie at all, and one of the strangest plays in hockey victimized the Blue.
Crimson co-captain Dave MacDonald was caught with a slash, and Richards abandoned his crease for the extra attacker. Yale maintained control in the offensive zone, and put a shot on Richter before sophomore Chris Cahill corralled the puck behind the Harvard net.
The winger wheeled a swift pass to the front from behind Richters left post, but no one was home on Yales high point, and the puck scurried straight into the Bulldogs evacuated net. As strange as the play was in and of itself, the last Crimson to touch the puck was goaltender Kyle Richter and he was thusly credited with the goal.
Its obviously exciting for me, he said with a grin. It was kind of a blooper play, but hey, Ill take it.
Hed thought about scoring before, of course, as all goalies tend to daydream of such things. But, being no Brodeur with the puck, its not something I practice, thats for sure, he stated.
No records of anyone accomplishing Richters feat could be found in the prodigious annals of Harvard hockey, and the athletic department is excitedly — if cautiously ” hoping to declare Richters as the first goalie-scored goal in the programs history.
MacDonald was still assessed his minor, of course, and teammate Jimmy Fraser soon followed, putting the Bulldogs “- now down 4-0 “- on a 1:48 five-on-three. Richter & Co. survived with a number of excellent saves, and one or two lucky ones, as well. For the better part of the game, and especially through a period and a half, everything Richter saw he stopped and furthermore, everything he didnt see ended up hitting him anyway.
However, Yale ruined the shutout and drew within three 9:32 into the period. With McCollem in the box, sophomore Mark Arcobello danced behind Richters net with the disc on his stick. The dangerous center got Richter to butterfly prematurely, and further convinced him to flop in anticipation of a wraparound that never came. Arcobello fed classmate Tom Dignard in front for an easy top-shelf tally.
With nine minutes on the clock, the home side struck again. Rogers caught Richards pulling off his right post, and the second-year Crimson stuffed home his own rebound for a 5-1 Harvard lead.
Cahill tried hard all night to make amends for his empty-net catastrophe, and had a golden opportunity with a minute and a half til the second buzzer. Open off a line change, he bolted down the left-wing alley and had a clear shot at the net. However, his quick release was stopped dead in Richters extended glove.
After two, Yale had the 33-22 shot advantage, thanks to a 24-9 period.
At 1:44 of the third, Jean-Francois Boucher was shown the gate for a hitting-from-behind major and game misconduct. Harvard converted on the power play for the third and final time of the game, as Pelle collected a lively rebound off the end-boards and shoveled home a no-angle goal before Richards could recover his line.
Were happy that our power play can score a couple big goals for us, Donato remarked. Special teams are even more important this time of year.
With 4:02 remaining, sophomore goaltender John Riley replaced Richter to the tune of appreciative applause. His time in the net wasnt totally without event, however, as he stopped all three shots he faced, and got to observe a classic collegiate donnybrook a minute into his ice time. The players on the ice scuffled, and five penalties were handed down for 20 minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct to Yales Ryan Donald.
The Crimson (12-11-3, 10-7-2 ECAC) host Brown on Saturday night for what will be Harvards Senior Night festivities. The team has now won three straight, five of six, and six of eight, including four consecutive ECAC victories.
Yale heads north to Dartmouth for tomorrow nights game, hoping to streak anew after last weekends consecutive wins.