Harvard Wins Game Three to Advance to ECAC Semifinals. Sixth Straight Trip to Lake Placid for Crimson.
Allston, MA – It took three games and almost a fourth’s worth of overtime, but the Harvard Crimson knocked off the RPI Engineers in the second round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. On Sunday, the Crimson scored a goal in all three periods to send the Engineers packing 3-1 and taking the weekend playoff series two games to one.
The Crimson advance to the Championship weekend in Lake Placid, NY. for the sixth straight time on the strength of junior goalie Mitchell Gibson‘s 28 saves and goals by Jonh Farinacci, Casey Dronbach, and Matthew Coronato.
RPI had the better chances to open the game, but Gibson was solid.
“That was fun, first of all,” said Gibson. “Everyone kept their composure, we were loose in the locker room before. Everyone played their best today of the three games, that’s what we needed.”
“I thought it was a big win; we played a team game and banded together to get it done,” said Dornbach, one of the Crimson captains. “They’re a good team on the other side (RPI). they went going to go down without a fight. We battled hard, played the right way and got it done.”
The Crimson took the lead late in the first period when junior Farinacci took a blue line to blue line pass from classmate Ryan Siedem into the Engineers zone. Farinacci skated around RPI defenseman Jack Agnew and beat goalie Jack Watson (30 saves) with a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle for the 1-0 lead. Siedem and Henry Thrun assisted Farinacci’s goal at 14:13.
The Crimson built on their lead just 1:05 into the second period when Dornbach, a senior from Edina, Minnesota, snapped a Thrun pass past Watson from the slot to make it 2-0. Dornbach’s seventh goal came just as a Crimson power-play expired.
RPI cut the deficit to 2-1 at 16:29 of the third period on the power-play. With Harvard defenseman Jack Bar off for Interference, the Engineers pulled Watson for the extra attacker. Senior Ottoville Leppanen blasted a one-timer past Gibson below the left face-off for his ninth goal. Seniors Jakub Lacka and Ture Linden assisted.
“It was a really close series, I thought we had chances especially early,” said RPI coach Dave Smith. “We were in it every second of every game. We just couldn’t’ find a way to get that extra one.”
“A couple of really nice, high end skills goals that found the back of the net and they get it. I’m proud of our effort for sure.”
“We’re a very good hockey team that lost to another very good hockey team,” added Smith. “The margin was extremely small, but the guys in the locker room came back after a tough loss and won a game and then almost win another game, but there’s no quit in our guys.”
Harvard capped off the win with an empty-net goal at 19:28 by Coronato. The first-year netted his 15th goal when he slapped the rebound of Sean Farrell‘s attempt that hit the post.
“First off, hats off to RPI,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “I thought they gave us everything we could handle. I thought they made us grow up a little bit as a team throughout the series.”
“It’s not only about the skill, but it’s about the hard plays that it takes to win hockey games,” said Donato. “They (RPI) made lots of key plays. For our team, in some ways, it’s a little bit of a blessing that you get pushed to this level because it’s good for the development of these guys. And in trying to build the right mentality to win.”
The Crimson will take on the Clarkson Golden Knights on Friday at 7:30 pm in Lake Placid, NY.