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The statistics said that Harvard should breeze by Princeton at Hobey Baker Rink Friday night. History said that the underdog Tigers should give the Crimson a fright.
Even in the Ivy League, sometimes, the numbers don’t lie.
The stats were simple: Shots on goal, Harvard 46-10; Score, Harvard, 6-3. The Crimson established a 2-0 lead in the first period, which expanded to 5-1 in a handy win in front of 1,761 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.
“I think we did a good job getting to loose pucks,” said Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni. “We won about 70 percent of the one-on-one battles.”
Princeton, coming off a Thanksgiving week where it allowed a total of 18 goals in three games, gave up 17 shots in the first period.
Harvard defenseman Ryan Lannon opened the scoring while his team was shorthanded. He bumped a puck off a Tiger looking to start a rush and worked around him to blister a shot through traffic that goaltender Trevor Clay never saw at 12:05 of the first period
The Crimson’s next goal came on even strength at 18:22 of the first. Freshman Tom Walsh sent a diagonal pass to senior Brett Nowak, who was cutting down the weak side unguarded. He had no problem converting for his sixth goal of the season.
Harvard made it 3-0, but this time on the power play. Junior Tyler Kolarik, who was all over the ice and had six shots on goal for the game — many high-quality — ripped a shot top-shelf past Princeton netminder Eric Laroux for his seventh goal of the season.
At the other end of the ice, Crimson goaltender John Daigneau, in his first collegiate start, had a relatively easy time in picking up his first win. The freshman only faced 10 shots and stopped seven of them.
“He played well,” Mazzoleni said. “He did not see two of the goals and the first one was just a real good shot.”
Princeton employed an unusual goaltending strategy, playing each of its three netminders for one period. Clay started, making 15 saves, several spectacular. Laroux stopped 14 of 16 shots, while Nate Nomeland had only 12 pucks to turn aside, and he successfully stopped 11.
Quesnelle still hasn’t settled on a number-one goaltender.
“Nobody has really seized the opportunity,” he said. “As a coach, I can’t go out and play for them. I can only control their minutes.”
He was frustrated at Princeton not turning on the offense until the third period, when goals by Chris Owen and Seamus Young made the score 5-3.
“I don’t know why it takes until we’ve spotted them a 4-0 lead for us to go out and play,” Quesnelle said. “I think it’s a matter of courage to go out and play hard from the start of the game.”
“You don’t need skill and you don’t need talent to go out and play defensive-zone coverage,” he added. “What it takes more than anything is inner strength, heart, and the willingness to roll up your sleeves and make sure, make damn sure that the guy isn’t going to beat you.”
Harvard now head to Ingalls Rink to face archrival Yale, a place where the Crimson rarely wins.
“I think it’s going to be a classic game in the Harvard-Yale tradition,” Mazzoleni said. “I told our guys that we need to bring our ‘A’ game.”