LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Harvard only scored the game-winning goal once, but the Crimson had a chance to celebrate it three times against St. Lawrence Friday night in the ECAC Hockey semifinals.
Kyle Criscuolo appeared to score to send the Crimson to a win over St. Lawrence 2:18 into overtime. The call on the ice was a good goal, and it stood following a lengthy review. But Saints coach Greg Carvel used his timeout and challenged the call again, asking the officials to see if the Crimson were offsite.
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Jimmy Vesey scored the other goal for Harvard (19-9-4), while Merrick Madsen had 34 saves for the Crimson. Gavin Bayreuther scored the lone goal for the Saints and Kyle Hayton had 28 saves.
Harvard will look for its second straight ECAC championship Saturday at 7:36 p.m. EDT against top-seeded Quinnipiac. It’s the second straight year that St. Lawrence’s (19-14-4) season came to an end in the league semifinals.
On the game-winning goal, Vesey cut toward the slot from the right circle and launched a shot that hit off Criscuolo and went into the net. But the officials gathered and went to the replay system for a lengthy review.
“I think they just wanted to make sure that the puck that there was no goalie interference,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “I think it was the right way to do it. When [the officials] said the last review was for offsides, I turned to [Saints] coach Greg Carvel and said ‘Why not?’ He still had his timeout and they used it to review the offsides.”
The goal came after a frantic third period for the Crimson. St. Lawrence outshot Harvard 18-7 in the final period but scored only once, when Bayreuther’s blast from the high slot was batted into the net by Crimson defenseman Clay Anderson.
The Saints came close to tying it at 11:32 in the third, as Jacob Pritchard threw an odd-angle shot on net from the goal line, which Madsen gloved, but appeared to fall into the net as doing so. The call on the ice was no goal, which was confirmed after a brief video review.
“I think we did a good job of keeping everything to the outside,” Madsen said. “St. Lawrence’s season was on the line and they were coming at us.”
Pritchard had another great chance less than a minute later, but his shot from the near the right circle ricocheted off the post. But Anderson’s gaffe helped the Saints tie the game at 14:36.
An injury to defensemen Wiley Sherman meant the Crimson skated sophomore Thomas Aiken and freshman Viktor Dombrovskiy on the blue line. The duo had appeared in a combined 11 games this season entering the game.
“Let’s be clear — I think the first reason for that was No. 31 in net,” Donato said in a nod toward Madsen. “I thought our ‘D’ in general got back to pucks and moved it up quickly. It was a great challenge against a team that comes real hard on the forecheck.”
The pace of the game was vastly different from the opening semifinal between Quinnipiac and Dartmouth, which had a combined eight penalties and stretches of sluggish play. The only penalty of the game was a boarding call on the Saints’ Michael Laidley at 15:55 in the third period.
“It was disturbing because we were dominating the third period and we’ve got guys getting our gloves chopped off, held in the crease and the referees are skating by, saying ‘We’re letting them play,'” Carvel said.
“I don’t think that was an intentionally violent hit so that was a tough one to take,” Carvel said, adding he thought that penalty changed momentum heading into overtime.
Harvard went up 1-0 59 seconds into the second period. Hayton dived forward on the crease in an attempt to cover a Colin Blackwell shot, but the rebound went to a crashing Vesey, who snapped it into the open net.
The Crimson had a chance to go up two goals later in the period thanks to a nice give-and-go on the rush by Blackwell and Sean Malone, but Malone’s shot from the right circle was turned away by Hayton.