The second half of the season kicked off for the Crimson tonight against RPI. The Crimson have been idle since a 2-1 win over Bentley on December 4th. The Engineers went winless last weekend @ UVM’s Catamount Cup, where they lost to Northeastern 3-2 in OT and 4-2 to UVM. This has been a series that Harvard has dominated, especially at home (4-0), going 8-2-2 over their last 12 meetings.
The first half of the opening period had both starting goalies making big saves. Owen Savory for RPI and Michael Lackey of Harvard were both seeing the puck well. John Marino had 2 big hits manning the blue line for the Crimson. Lewis Zerter-Gossage intercepted an errant pass out in front of Savory but was turned aside. A minute later, after a smooth breakout by Harvard, Zerter-Gossage wouldn’t be denied as he slid a Casey Dornbach pass past a diving Savory for the 1-0 Crimson lead.
RPI came right back with some solid play, Brady Wiffen hit the post around the 8 minute mark. Then Todd Burgess had a nice look at an open net but was unable to connect when he fanned on a cross ice pass in front of Lackey. Harvard’s Adam Fox hit the crossbar on a shot from the right point as the Crimson started to control the period. Harvard pulled ahead 2-0 when Baker Shore tipped a Reilly Walsh shot past Savory @ 16:46. The Engineers took advantage of a face off in the Harvard zone, as Defenseman Shane Bear scored his first goal of the season to make it 2-1 @ 18:09. Jr
Jacob Hayhurst and Wiffen were credited with the RPI assists. The crimson outshot the Engineers 13-7 for the period. Face offs were split even @ 8-8.
The middle frame was paced by the play of the two goalies. Each team had a power play for Tripping. Harvard’s @ 3:29 when Nick Bowman was called. RPI’s was @ 13:41 when Marshall Rifai took down an RPI player in front of the Harvard net. Neither team scored on the man advantage. Harvard actually had the best chance when they were killing their penalty, but Fox and Jack Badini couldn’t connect on a 2 on 1 chance. At times it looked as if Harvard was toying with RPI when they have possession in the Engineers zone. The cycling of the puck down low has been a staple of the Crimson attack the last few seasons, and tonight was no different.
RPI coach Dave Smith got creative when he pulled Savory with .09 left in the period. With his teaming having the edge in face-offs won it was a good move. The face off in the Crimson end was won by Harvard but kudos to Smith for going for it. Harvard threw 10 shots on Savory, while RPI added 9 on Lackey.
The 3rd period was all RPI, which wasted no time tying the game @ 2 -2 when Hayhurst set up Burgess who was all alone out front. The period really belonged to Savory, who turned aside all 18 shots Harvard threw at him. RPI had a Power Play @ 3:40 when Jacob Olson was whistled for Slashing. Jacob Hayhurst had 2 stingers from the low circle on Lackey but was unable to further the Engineers’ momentum.
After 3 full periods it was knotted 2-2 with Harvard outshooting the Engineers 40-26. In Overtime Harvard’s Casey Dornbach won it @ 2:58 when a Zerter-Gossage shot bounced off Savory and hit Dornbach’s skate and went in. The officials reviewed the goal and the call on the ice stood. Harvard won in OT 3-2.
That’s the kind of season it has been for RPI. Coach Smith was clearly disappointed with the officials review after the game. Smith was asked if he was happy with RPI’s effort, despite the loss? “No, No I’m not happy with our overall execution… I was disappointed with our neutral zone puck management at the offensive blue line. We need to make it a 200 ft ice surface more often and out work them in our offensive, their defensive zone. So that makes me unhappy. I like our effort. I like our willingness to compete. I like a lot of things about our game. We’re not giving ourselves enough time or opportunity.”
Harvard coach Ted Donato was also frustrated by his team’s play, but he was happy that his team “stayed with it and got a bounce at the end. That’s a big 2 points for us there.”
Harvard is off until Tuesday when they host Boston University @ 7pm. RPI hosts Army tomorrow night @ 7pm.