Men's hockey disappointed with 6-2 loss to Harvard

by Evan Meyerson | 10/31/05 6:00am

In a reversal from the recent nail-bitter finishes which had underscored the storied Dartmouth-Harvard hockey rivalry, the Crimson overtook the Big Green 6-2 with a crushing third-quarter effort on Saturday at Cambridge. Harvard's NHL-like run-and-gun offensive plan paid dividends in the final frame in the form of three unanswered goals, giving Dartmouth its second 0-1 start in as many years.

The Crimson (1-0, Ivy 0-0) skated into the third period with a 3-2 advantage only to explode for three more goals in twelve minutes of play. Harvard's fourth score came two minutes into the frame, when a Dartmouth defender was stripped of the puck at the blueline by sophomore Paul Dufault. Dufault's shot attempt was blocked by goaltender Sean Samuel '07, but rebounded right to the stick of freshman Nick Coskren who easily placed the puck into an open left side of the goal.

A two-goal lead was not enough insurance, however, for the surging Crimson. Halfway through the third, sophomore Dave Watters expanded the lead to three, beating the struggling Big Green goaltender. With 5:16 remaining in the blow-out, Harvard added serious insult to injury in an already lost game when senior Dan Murphy scored the Crimson's second power-play goal of the night after receiving a perfect pass from junior forward Kevin Du. After allowing six goals on 23 shots, Samuel was pulled from net and replaced by Mike Devine '08.

"In the third period, Harvard got some bounces and I think we got a little caught up in the score of the game, rather than playing the game we had the first two periods," said Samuel.

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy '07 was less charitable in his assessment of the game. "I think we were outworked after that first period," he said. "They forechecked us really hard, and forced us into costly turnovers that led to a couple of their goals. We played sloppy, shinny hockey in the third period, and we didn't play tough enough."

Harvard's 6-2 victory in the 179th meeting between the two Ivy adversaries was an upset, at least as far as polls are concerned. The Big Green entered the action on Saturday ranked No. 15 in the nation while the Crimson were unranked. Dartmouth will most likely fall out of the top 20 when polls are released later this week.

Dartmouth had its chances before the defense let down. The Big Green had the lead twice, scoring at the very start of each of the first two periods. J.T. Wyman '08 gave Dartmouth an immediate advantage, scoring less than a minute into the game. Du tied the game 14 minutes later, tipping in a shot by freshman Jack Christian.

Dartmouth came right back 32 seconds into the second frame, as Ben Lovejoy '08 saw his shot from the point tipped in by a Harvard defender, putting the Big Green back on top 2-1.

The Crimson answered again, as Du fed junior Dylan Reese who fired the puck past Samuel, capitalizing on a power-play opportunity while knotting the game at two goals a piece.

Du gave Harvard the lead for good at 14:19 in the second, scoring on a break away from center ice. The junior forward had two goals and four points on the night.

"Mistakes were made including a handful by myself and mistakes are easily correctable," said Samuel, referring to the team's third-period collapse. "I don't think it was a lapse of concentration, I think it came down to simply not handling the situation we were faced with."

Samuel will attempt to fill the sizeable skates of Dan Yacey '05 who holds the school record for save percentage (.917). While Samuel saw ample ice-time as a back-up throughout his fist two seasons, the Ontario-native is limited in his experience as a starter.

However, the buck does not stop with Samuel. Dartmouth defenders must cut down on costly turnovers and occasional carelessness in order to prevent future flops.

In reference to the Big Green defense, Lovejoy said, "I think some of us, myself included need to be in better shape, and I think we need to continue to physically beat-up on teams. We were bigger, stronger, and more skilled than Harvard, but they capitalized on our mistakes in the third period and that killed us."

Dartmouth icers hope that an opening night loss can serve as a blessing in disguise. If the Big Green can aptly identify and correct the mistakes Samuel spoke of, the team will put itself in a good position to repeat the success of last year and live up to the hype propelled by a pre-season national ranking.

Offensive production will undoubtedly improve with time as linemates become more and more accustomed to skating with one another.

The Big Green resumes its ECACHL schedule next Friday when Dartmouth visits the Garden State for a bought with Princeton (1-1). The Tigers are coming off a weekend split with Notre Dame. The following night, Dartmouth travels to Connecticut, facing off against Quinnipiac, the newest member of the ECACHL.

Both games are set to begin at 7 p.m.

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