March 3, 2008

Red Falls to Crimson, Loses First-Week Bye on Senior Night

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Undoubtedly, there would be tears shed on Saturday night at Lynah Rink, tears during Senior Night for the four elder statesmen of the men’s hockey team. As it turned out, though, those tears were stained a bittersweet Crimson, as Harvard beat Cornell, 3-1, meaning that the Red will not receive a first-round bye in the ECAC Hockey playoffs.
With the loss, Cornell dropped to No. 5 in the league, and the team will therefore host Dartmouth next weekend in a best-of-three first-round series at Lynah Rink. Harvard clinched the No. 3 seed in the tournament with the win, while Clarkson, Princeton and Union received the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 seeds, respectively.
“We didn’t deserve the bye,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We never beat anybody ahead of us in the standings. All the teams that are first, second, third and fourth, we got swept by all those teams. I really believe that we ended up probably where we deserved to end up.”
Emotions were riding high throughout the night, as it was the last regular-season home game for the team’s four seniors. After the game, seniors Chris Fontas, co-alternate captain Doug Krantz, co-captain Raymond Sawada and co-captain Topher Scott were honored in the Senior Night festivities. Each of the players skated around the rink as their career accolades were read over the loudspeaker, and then they joined their families in the middle of the ice.
“To tell you the truth, I couldn’t even hear what [the P.A. announcer] was saying, it was so loud,” Scott said. “It is emotional because you put so much forth for four years coming in and you see all the guys coming in from years before, having gone through Senior Night. It kind of just hits you like a brick, that the time is almost done, and it’s been such a great four years for all four of us, and we don’t want to see it end.”
The game itself was close throughout, with senior Paul Dufault scoring the winning goal for Harvard with seven minutes left in the third period and the score knotted up at 1-1. Crimson freshman Michael Biega fired a shot that was initially stopped by sophomore Ben Scrivens. However, it squirted out to Dufault, who slipped it past Scrivens to make it 2-1.
“It was a back and forth game, and they had a good bounce and they put it in, said sophomore Colin Greening. “Sometimes at the end of the game, that defines a game, and that’s how they won.”
Seniors Mike Taylor and Tyler Magura also scored for Harvard. Taylor scored shorthanded in the first after a Cornell turned it over at the blue line in the Crimson’s zone, and Taylor skated the length of the ice and put it past Scrivens. Magura scored a controversial empty-netter at the end of the game which sealed Harvard’s victory. The puck appeared to go into the Crimson’s bench, but then caromed out to Magura, who scored. Despite vehement argument from Cornell, the goal stood.
“It was frustrating at the end,” Schafer said. “A puck gets fired in their bench and comes flying out … and not one of the officials sees it for the third goal. Those types of games, in tight games like that, that can make a real difference.”
Cornell’s lone goal was scored by Greening, who took a pass from freshman Riley Nash on a four-on-four, skated past the blue line, and then ripped a shot past Harvard sophomore Kyle Richter to even the game at one near the end of the second period.
“[Greening] played very well, obviously a big goal on the four on four,” Schafer said. “He just continues to play very very strong.”
One night after converting 3-of-4 power-play attempts against Dartmouth, Cornell struggled with the extra-man advantage against Harvard. The Red did not convert on any of its four opportunities, and only managed two shots on goal on the power play.
“I think in a big game like that, with all the excitement in the air, we didn’t show much poise,” Schafer said. “The power play has been very good for us over the course of time, and we came into the game and we had some breakdowns when we had some opportunities, but we didn’t get our head up and make that extra pass. … That happens once in a while in a game like that with all the excitement.”
Harvard also struggled on its power play, as Cornell killed off all three of the Crimson’s opportunities. Overall, the Red held the edge in shots, 23-22.