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Lake Placid, NY — The fate of the No. 2 team in the nation was cemented Saturday as Harvard defeated Cornell, 4-1, to claim its second Whitelaw Cup in three years. Despite the next step towards a national title, Harvard’s celebration at the final buzzer was understated.
“I think this senior class has played in three championship games, now successfully in two of them,” Harvard head coach Ted Donato said. “This is a group that has been very focused all year. I think they are incredibly excited to win, but they know there’s more to play for.”
Ryan Donato scored two goals, opening up the scoring on a power-play goal from the point. His second goal was a strong move through the slot to walk in cleanly and score to make it 4-1.
Harvard pulled away in the third period, scoring two goals and posting 14 shots, contributing to 36 total shots. The Harvard power play, coming into the game at a 26 percent success rate went 2-for-4.
“All those things play into the game, but the bottom line is they capitalized on their scoring chances and we didn’t. We had some great opportunities,” Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. “The game can be cruel sometimes, you have a great opportunity and you hit the post, a back door that we fanned on, their kid made a couple great saves, then they come down, hit a stanchion and it pops right out to the guy and it’s 3-0. Game over.”
Merrick Madsen, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, walked away giving up two goals total over two games. The junior met his fair share of contact and rolling pucks. Though he came up with strong glove saves, twice during the night pucks rolled through his crease. His bid for a scoreless game ended with 1:14 left as Jeff Malott scored.
“I just want to go out and give my team a chance to win. Whatever that means is what it means,” Madsen said. “On some nights that means one goal on 40 shots and some nights that means giving up three goals on 30 shots, you just gotta do it. Whatever it takes to win.”
The victory adds to Harvard’s hardware this season. The Crimson already have captured a Beanpot and a Cleary Cup as regular season champions in the ECAC. With Denver’s victory, the Crimson will get the benefit of top seeding in a regional. It’s the 10th time in program history the Crimson have won the conference title.
“You could argue that it’s almost like three seasons: the regular season, the ECAC playoffs and then the NCAA Tournament. You start from scratch again,” Donato said. “You have to be able to handle adversity, handle a bad call, a bad goal, not the start that you want. This group has really been focused and has come out to start games really well. We don’t know where we’re going, but I’m confident this group will be focused.”