Tom Cavanagh scored two unanswered goals to keep Dartmouth at a stiff-arm’s distance on Friday night, helping his Harvard Crimson escape Thompson Arena with a 4-1 win.
Harvard stormed out of the gates as though still trying to come back from the three-goal deficit it failed to make up in its previous game against Cornell.
“I thought we played a really solid game in all three zones,” Harvard head coach Mark Mazzoleni said. “We have a lot of respect for their program. We knew that we were going to have to bring our A-game if we were going to beat them tonight.”
The ECAC’a second-leading goal scorer, Dominic Moore, nearly broke the ice within the first two minutes with a slapper that caromed off the crossbar.
Dartmouth forfeited an early power play when Hugh Jessiman was sent to the box, eerily reminiscent of the opening of the Big Green’s 6-1 loss to Cornell on Feb. 7. On the four-on-four, Moore got what he was looking for, batting a cross-crease pass from Peter Hafner out of the air and through the legs of Dartmouth goaltender Nick Boucher.
Harvard decided that it would also utilize the remaining man-advantage, as David McCulloch came out of the box at 7:55 and a storm of lightning-quick passes and thunderous slapshots ensued.
Tyler Kolarik found himself open in front and one-timed a Brett Nowak feed into the back of the net to open up a two-goal lead.
The Big Green was able to even out the play in the final 10 minutes of the first period, but went into the intermission still down two. The eventual hero, Cavanagh, was sent off for hooking Lee Stempniak at 5:03 in the second, but the Big Green could not find the net for the first minute of the man-advantage and Harvard goalie Dov Grumet-Morris staved off the remainder of the attack.
Mike Murray was pulled to the ground illegally for the second time in as many periods, giving the Dartmouth power play a second chance. This time, Kent Gillings broke free from the corner and walked in on Grumet-Morris, who gave up a fatal rebound to Hugh Jessiman. The freshman buried the loose puck at 8:14.
Harvard regained momentum at 14:46, as the Crimson caught Trevor Byrne on the offensive end and freshman forward Max Guimond back to defend a two-on-two alongside Brian Van Abel. Cavanagh kept the puck himself and ripped a shot from the right circle that bounced out of the top left corner of the net, but crossed the line nonetheless.
“Our mistakes ended up in the back of our net,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said. “That’s a credit to them; they got the job done.”
Dartmouth refused to lie down and die, peppering Grumet-Morris in the final minutes of the second frame following what seemed like a game-sealing Harvard score.
The Big Green continued to fight, but struggled to find a score to get the capacity crowd and itself back into the game. Jarrett Sampson fanned on a cross-ice pass with an open net just inches away from his stick and several minutes later Pete Summerfelt and a pack of Dartmouth forwards invaded the net, but could not push the puck past the goal line on numerous attempts.
“They showed why they’re nationally ranked, that they’re number two in our league for a reason,” Bob Gaudet said. “I thought our guys played a solid game, but they’re a very good defensive team.”
With 11 minutes to play, Dartmouth’s pressure was mounting and the fans shook the building, but the Big Green could not get a bounce, even as its shot total surpassed Harvard’s.
The Crimson’s recovery of the shot lead was a powerful statement, as Cavanagh broke out of his defensive zone with numbers but again kept the puck for himself, tacking on the backbreaker and putting Harvard up, 4-1.
Jessiman was sent off for high-sticking at 15:23, this time without the devastating results of his earlier infraction, but with his team already out of the game. Playing shorthanded for much of the remainder of the game, Dartmouth failed to answer Cavanagh’s final word with even a shot of its own.