After giving up four goals in the second period, Harvard’s comeback started with a Merrick Madsen save in the opening seconds of the third period.
That save sparked the comeback for the No. 2 Crimson as they scored three times in the final 20 minutes in a 6-4 victory over Yale in game one of the ECAC quarterfinals.
Madsen made 24 saves, while counterpart Sam Tucker stopped 27.
“I think the realty is we weren’t as sharp as we could have been,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “From one end of the bench to the other and behind the bench I guess too. That was a big save and we made some plays. Some of our best players stepped up and made some high-end plays. We were able to get the big 1-0 series lead. We know we will have to be a lot better tomorrow night.”
Sean Malone fed Tyler Moy a cross-ice pass to tie the score at four 48 seconds into the third. Seven minutes later, on a power play, Adam Fox found Alexander Kerfoot, who gave the Crimson a 5-4 lead.
Harvard was 2-for-7 on the power play and Yale was 1-for-3.
With 7:50 remaining in the game Lewis Zerter-Gossage went top shelf to stretch the lead to 6-4. Jacob Olsen picked up the lone assist.
The second period had a lot more action.
Luke Esposito started the scoring off as he gave the Crimson a 2-0 lead 1:20 into the period as Malone and Wiley Sherman picked up the assists.
With 30 seconds remaining in a Harvard power play, Nathan Krusko went off for holding at 7:08. Once the final 30 seconds ticked off in Will D’Orsi’s penalty, Yale went to work on the man advantage. John Hayden and Charlie Curti found Joe Snively, who put the Bulldogs on the board 8:03 into the second period.
Yale continued to pounce as Mike Doherty scored his sixth goal of the season to tie the score at 2-2 just 1:22 later. Chris Izmirlian notched the lone assist. Luke Stevens picked up the puck in front of the crease to give Yale a 3-2 lead at the 10:44 mark. It was Stevens’ second goal of the season.
“I thought we made some mistakes managing the puck,” Donato said. “We turned some pucks over. I actually thought our first period was a little bit too loose as well. As much as you fight it, you talk about having the time off, you are just not as sharp, not as ready to play. As gritty, as competitive as you need to be, I give Yale a lot of credit. I thought in the second period they were able to make some plays and forced us to make some turnovers. They capitalized on their chances.”
Harvard finally settled down and went to work on a man advantage as great puck movement from Malone and Krusko found Esposito at the right slot to tie score 3-3 with 3:59 remaining in the period.
“Those guys have been great for us all year,” Donato said. “When we are playing our best, we are able to use all four lines Both of those lines we look at as tough matchups. I thought Sean Malone was flying tonight and Esposito made some plays, Moy made some plays. I thought Moy was strong down low holding onto pucks. That line was so effective it carried us through some mistakes we made.”
The Moy-Malone-Esposito line finished the game with four goals and five assists.
Fifty-six seconds later, the wild second period was capped off when Adam Larkin found Snively in the neutral zone. Snively went in alone and beat Madsen to make it 4-3 Yale after 40 minutes.
Yale appeared to go up 1-0 as a shot from the point was tipped right in front of Madsen and into the goal five minutes into the game. After a long review it was determined Madsen was interfered with and couldn’t make the save.
The play woke up Harvard. The Crimson set up in the offensive zone shortly there after. Moy, who was set up below the goal line, found Malone in the slot The goal came at the 6:28 mark of the period and it was Malone’s 15th of the season.
Other ECAC Hockey quarterfinals
No. 19 St. Lawrence 2, Quinnipiac 0
Kyle Hayton made 32 saves for the shutout to lead the Saints to a victory in game one. Joe Sullivan had a goal and an assist while Michael Ederer scored the game winner. Andrew Shortridge made 27 saves for the Bobcats.
No. 6 Union 4, Princeton 1
Mike Vecchione had a pair of goals in the Dutchmen’s victory. Cole Maier and Spencer Foo also scored. Alex Sakellaropoulos made 30 saves in the victory. Ryan Siiro potted the Tigers’ goal and Colton Phinney made 34 saves.
Clarkson 6, No. 9 Cornell 2
Brett Gervais and Nic Pierog each had two goals in the Golden Knights’ victory. Gervais added two assists and Pierog had one. Sheldon Rempal and Troy Josephs also scored. Trevor Yates and Mitch Vanderlaan scored for Cornell.