Hanover, NH – Harvard and Dartmouth met for the 198th time in their illustrious histories on Saturday night in front of 3114 at Thompson Arena, and the early play did not disappoint. The teams played an uptempo scoreless first period that saw few chances for either team. The Crimson scored the game’s first goal at ten minutes, 13 seconds of the second period as Jimmy Vesey backhanded a shot high above Charles Grant to give the Crimson a 1-0 lead. The lead was shortlived, however, as the Big Green answered three minutes and 20 seconds later, when Grant Opperman found a loose puck and put it behind Raphael Girard. The game went to the third period tied at one apiece.
Dartmouth came out in the third period firing everything and anything at Harvard goaltender, Raphael Girard. It outshot the Crimson 10-7 in the period and dominated the play. The Big Green would score the only goal of the third period, as Brandon McNally sent a puck cross-crease to Eric Neiley who was wide open and the latter found the back of the net to give Dartmouth the lead with 2:41 remaining. The Big Green stifiled the Crimson for the remainder of the period and it held on to the 2-1 win over Ivy League rival Harvard. The win was Dartmouth’s first of the season and improved its record to 1-8-0, and 1-6-0 in the ECAC. The loss dropped Harvard to 4-6-1, and 2-5-1 in the ECAC.
What I Saw
- It was evident early that Dartmouth used its two weeks off nicely, as the first period was a defensive clinic for the Big Green. It had sticks in lanes, it improved its interior defense and Harvard had just two grade A opportunities in the first 20 minutes of the contest. It was a complete 360 from the last time I saw the Big Green against St. Lawrence. Time off can be good for a team or it can be bad, for Dartmouth it was certainly just what the doctor ordered.
- Harvard came out flat in the first two periods and Dartmouth took advantage of it. Despite scoring the game’s first goal midway through the second period, the Crimson just didn’t seem to have much fight on this night. It lost most battles to the puck, it was manhandled by the Green and it allowed Dartmouth to dominate the territorial play. It was evident but as is the case in many games, despite being manhandled territorially the Crimson bent but didn’t break as it allowed just five grade A opportunities in the first two periods.
What I Thought
- Dartmouth responded as well as it could have to Harvard’s first goal, which gave the Crimson the lead. Two weeks ago, the Big Green probably would have given up another quick one but tonight the Green responded and tied the game 3 minutes later, when Opperman scored on the power-play. Dartmouth has obviously grown a lot in the early season and it was only evident tonight. If responses can get better it will be immediately better, as it didn’t respond well in the early going, hence it went 0-8-0 to start the season. It has been tough on Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, but it was evident by his coaching on the bench. He was ever fired up and it was obvious he hasn’t given up on this team.
- Harvard was coming in off a big win against UNH. It just seemed confident that it was playing a team that was 0-8-0 on the season and was in for an easy night, which was hardly the case. Dartmouth gave them every thing it could handle and it just didn’t seem into the game from the start. It cost them at times but then again it still played solid defensive hockey. A matter of execution on the other end of the ice was the biggest difference in the game.
- At this point, Raphael Girard has to be Harvard’s starter. In this one Girard was solid, as he was against UNH on Tuesday night. In the third period, Girard saw shot after shot and he was true to all of them early in the period as the Green outshot the Crimson 9-2 in the first ten minutes of the period. In one instance, Girard absolutely robbed Tyler Sikura on the doorstep on a reactionary save that he held underneath his stick-side arm. The save was arguably the best I have seen this season, as Sikura was wide open and Girard had to react. He did and the game remained tied. His play was the only reason that his team was still tied with minutes to go. Michalek has struggled this season but Girard has led. At this point, it should be an easy decision for Ted Donato.
What They Said
Harvard Coach Ted Donato said,
“I thought we played well tonight. I think there was a reason that we ended up with a couple of power-plays. I don’t care what the shot chart said but I felt we carried the play for the majority of the evening. I just don’t think we finished our chances.”
We were alone against their goalie a couple of times and he made some big, timely saves. I thought we had four or five chances to get the lead. I thought in general their goaltender made huge saves but I felt our effort and execution was ultimately the difference.”
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said,
“We got out of exams and the guys practiced really well this week. We had some guys out of the lineup and we played really really well against a good team. I felt we were outstanding against a good team.”
“Chuck was excellent for us tonight. He was under control and very calm. I thought he has some huge saves throughout. The breakaway in the first period was huge for us and there were a couple down the stretch in that third period that were outstanding. He was just very in control.”
Dartmouth forward Brandon McNally said,
“It was tough giving up the first goal but we knew we had a lot of scoring chances. It was obviously tough because we knew we hadn’t been doing very well. We knew that we were going to come out and score a couple of goals to win it.”
“We just stuck to it and worked really really hard. It was a huge team effort tonight and Chuck played well making some big saves. We just kept working until the end.
What Else You Should Know
Harvard will next play at Brown on Friday and at Yale on Saturday. It has played neither team in the early going and will be looking to bounce back from a game, which it failed to execute. Harvard has tons of talent but again on this night it didn’t come together and play a team game.
Dartmouth will do the complete opposite as Harvard, as the teams are travel partners. The Big Green will play at Yale on Friday and at Brown on Saturday. Dartmouth lost a non-conference game to Brown earlier in the season, 5-3. The Big Green are in a hole and are looking to dig even deeper going forward.