ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — With a Division I-record 11 ties, and two overtime games against Yale last weekend in the league quarterfinals, it’s fair to say Harvard’s had plenty of experience going down to the wire.
Might be time to bury that notion.
The third-seeded Crimson scored two goals in each period, including a pair from linemates Alex Killorn and Marshall Everson, to romp second-seed Cornell 6-1 Friday night at Boardwalk Hall and advance to the ECAC championship game Saturday night.
“As coaches, to be able to get a little bit of stress-free game in once we got the lead was much more comfortable than some of the games we were locked in with Yale last weekend,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato, who saw the Crimson roll over the Bulldogs 8-2 last Sunday to reach Atlantic City.
Picked to finish 12th in the preseason media poll and seventh in the coaches’ poll, Harvard is now just one win away from advancing to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005-06.
“Once we entered the playoffs, we felt we had a chance to win the whole league and tomorrow night, we’ll have that opportunity,” Donato said.
Up 2-0 on goals by Patrick McNally and Killorn, the Crimson extended its lead on Colin Moore’s first strike of the year early in the second period. Danny Biega’s shot bounced off goalie Andy Illes’ pad and spun out to Moore, who slammed it into the net 4:37 in.
Everson’s back-door power-play goal made it 4-0 at 9:09 and the romp was on, as Killorn and Everson each added third-period goals to make it 6-0.
Joel Lowry scored the lone Big Red goal when he beat Harvard goalie Raphael Girard (18 saves) at 18:54.
It was an uncharacteristic game for Cornell, which allowed a season-high six goals, had 27 penalty minutes, and managed just nine shots through the first two periods.
“At different points in the game, there were guys taking undisciplined penalties. Even at the end, it was just embarrassing,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said of his team, which entered the game as the least penalized team in the league.
Cornell’s infractions included a five-minute major on Dustin Mowrey for hitting from behind at 10:40 in the second period and a hitting after the whistle and subsequent 10-minute misconduct on Armand de Swardt late in the third.
The Crimson’s top-ranked power play was just one-for-five on the night, but the stream of penalties coupled with uneven play in their own end made it difficult for Cornell and Iles (24 saves).
On the other end, Girard wasn’t called upon to make many saves, but handled those that he did, continuing the run of success he’s had since taking over the starting job in February.
“He’s really solidified himself,” Killorn said of Girard. “He’s someone that we can really rely on and that’s great to have for tight games and playoff games.”
Harvard and Union will meet tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the ECAC championship. It’s the first championship game for Harvard since 2008, while the Dutchmen last made an appearance in 2010.
The teams tied 3-3 on Jan. 6 and Union won 2-0 at Fenway Park on Jan. 14.
“We know how good of a team they are, but at the same time, every guy in the locker room feels like we owe them something,” Everson said. “Losing that game at Fenway wasn’t fun for any of us. I think we’d all like to get payback for that and it’s to go to the NCAA tournament, so there really can’t be any more on the line for us.”