CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Riding its first hot streak of the season, the Harvard Crimson looked to build some serious momentum before seeking its first Beanpot title in 17 years.
Princeton had other ideas.
The Tigers upended the Crimson 2-1 before 2,432 at Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center Friday night, ending Harvard’s four game unbeaten streak.
Senior Dan Bartlett and sophomore Marc Hagel scored for Princeton (8-10-2 overall, 4-8-1 in ECAC Hockey), while senior netminder Zane Kalemba stopped 34 shots in the win. The victory was Princeton’s second straight, and fifth in eight games (5-2-1) following a 3-8-1 first half of the season.
I thought it was a very good hockey game. Win or lose, it was very quick, there were a lot of chances; it was a good hockey game to watch, said triumphant head coach Guy Gadowsky. I thought it was a quick, well-played hockey game.
Rookie Conor Morrison scored the lone goal for Harvard (5-11-3, 5-6-3), and junior Ryan Carroll made 32 saves.
It was a hard-fought game, assessed Harvard head coach Ted Donato. We knew going in that Princeton was a dangerous team, and a very proud team. You don’t have the success they’ve had over the past couple years without a lot of character guys.
Tigers winger Tyler Beachell created the first Grade-A chance of the game, receiving a cross-ice pass with acres of unmanned space between himself and Carroll. The confident ‘keeper played his position perfectly, out-waiting Beachell for the low-angle save. Alex Killorn saw his own high-percentage opportunity fall by the wayside moments later, as the Crimson sophomore had Kalemba beat but the puck found the iron rather than the twine.
Bartlett opened the scoring about a dozen minutes into the contest, rushing the net to tap in a well-placed backdoor feed from Cam MacIntyre. The team’s leading scorer upped his season total to 13 goals and 20 points on the play, putting him three goals and eight points short of last year’s career high.
A spirited 20 minutes ended with 26 shots on the board: 15 by blast-happy Princeton, 11 by the hosts. The lone infraction of the period — an interference minor on Harvard’s Danny Biega — carried 46 seconds over to the second frame.
Harvard drew even five minutes in as Morrison slapped home a one-time feed from Louis Leblanc on the power play. With Leblanc drawing all the attention low on the left-wing dot, Morrison found a seam in the middle of Princeton’s slot. Leblanc dished the puck across for Morrison’s wide-open gimme.
Another 12 and a half minutes passed with sporadic but limited chances from each side, before the Tigers wrested the lead once more. Junior winger Kevin Lohry finished a hard Princeton cycle below Carroll’s goal line, looping low from the goalie’s right post to his left before divested himself of the puck to Hagel, who stood five feet out from the left post. Hagel knew just what to do with the puck, slapping it hard between Carroll’s legs for his first goal of the season.
The second period concluded with Princeton holding the 2-1 edge, and the shots for the middle frame were exactly the same as the first: 15-11 Princeton, for a 30-22 lead overall.
We’re starting to get some bodies back and play an up-tempo game, said Gadowsky of his slowly healing squad. I thought both teams were skating very well tonight.
The third period was dominated by Harvard, but the scoreboard read nothing-doing through 17:56. At that point, Princeton defenseman Brad Schroeder took a hooking minor to give the home team on a last-ditch power play. The white-clad Crimson buried the net in shots and bodies, but numerous blocked shots and some clutch goaltending by ECAC Hockey’s defending Goaltender of the Year denied Harvard its equalizing goal.
Zane is Zane, smiled Gadowsky. We’ve struggled a bit with a lot of injuries, and our goaltenders sort of see the brunt of that. We played a better game, but certainly when we needed him most he was there, as always.
Kalemba was very large tonight, agreed Donato. He’s a guy who’s shown in the past that he can stand on his head at times, and I think he did in the third period.
Harvard returns to action on Monday at 5 p.m. in the Beanpot opener against Boston College, while Princeton continues northward to Hanover, N.H. to take on Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon.