PRINCETON, N.J. — Sometimes it really is better late than never.
Ninth seeded Harvard battled back from a two goal deficit after 40 minutes with four third period goals to top eighth seeded Princeton, 4-2, in the opener of a best-of-three ECAC Tournament first-round series at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.
We got a couple of bounces, and we threw a lot of pucks on net, said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. It feels good, but the job is just halfway done.
The Tigers had leapfrogged the Crimson for the last home ice spot in the first round by one point, after they topped Brown here last Saturday and Harvard fell at St. Lawrence.
Its a nice start to the weekend with a win, but weve got to be prepared for tomorrow, said Michael Del Mauro, a New Jersey native who tallied the game-winning goal for the Crimson tonight.
Kyle Richter made 33 saves in the win for Harvard (8-19-3), while Zane Kalemba tallied 31 stops for Princeton (12-15-3).
Richter was excellent, said Donato. He made a couple of huge saves when it was 2-0, and he kept us in reach and made some big saves in the third as well.
The two teams skated back and forth for most of the first period, with Princeton coming up short on two power plays; but it was the Tigers who finally broke through at 15:27. Dan Bartlett carried the puck left to right through the neutral zone and over the blueline, where it was momentarily knocked away from him by a Crimson defender.
Bartlett recovered the disk along the right wing boards and then fed Matt Godlewski as he came over the blueline, and his slapper from the left point was tipped home by Marc Hagel in the slot. The goal was Hagels seventh of the year, and extended his personal goal-scoring streak to four games.
Harvard got three power plays of its own in the second session, and Richter made a stack-pad save on Mike Kramer in the first five minutes to keep the Crimson within one; but it was Princeton getting the lone goal of the period again when Marc Magnowski connected at 12:22.
Magnowskiss teammates crowded the slot as he let go with a shot from along the goal line to Richters left, and the puck banked in for Magnowskis 10th of the campaign as he stretched his personal scoring string to four games.
The second one was a bad bounce, said Donato.
Kalemba made back-to-back saves less than three minutes into the third period. He stopped Luke Greiners turnaround shot from the slot, and then used his stick to deny Del Mauro at the left post on the rebound.
Kalemba was great early on, said Donato, whose team snapped a four-game winless streak. We had surefire goals three times with yawning nets, and he made the save.
He just made a great save, added Del Mauro. He played great, and we played hard and got pucks to the net and waited for a chance to pan out.
Kalemba then stopped Colin Moore from the left circle, and had at least one save in a scrum in front a minute later, but then Harvard was finally rewarded for its efforts at 8:05. It was Daniel Moriarty, who tallied his fifth of the year as he was pushed to the ice but still got off a backhand shot that ended up in the top far corner of the Princeton net.
That first goal gave us life, said Donato.
The Crimson knotted affairs just over two minutes later, when Danny Biegas wrist shot from above the left circle went through Kalembas pads at 10:35 for his fourth goal of the season.
The visitors then took their first lead when Princeton couldnt clear its own zone. The Crimson got off several shots, all blocked or saved, until the puck dropped near Del Mauro in the low right circle and he put it past Kalemba at 14:05 for his first goal of the year.
Michael Biega then closed out the scoring and the contest, as he beat Kalemba from the left side at 17:50 for his seventh of the year. Richter then shut the door the rest of the way for the Crimson, and made several saves late after Princeton had pulled Kalemba for an extra attacker.
It always feels good to win on the road, but now we have to get ready for the next game, said Del Mauro. Playoffs are playoffs.
Game two will be tomorrow at Baker Rink at 7:00 p.m. A Harvard win would send the Crimson on to the second round, while a Princeton victory would necessitate a deciding third game here on Sunday night at 7:00 p.m.
Weve got to come out a little harder, said Kalemba. They came at us hard when we had a 2-0 lead, and we have to have a better effort tomorrow.