Raphael Girard stopped 34 of 35 shots against Cornell Friday night (Gil Talbot).
ITHACA, N.Y. – All four of Harvard's offensive lines generated goals as the No. 17 Harvard men's hockey team upset long-time rival No. 10 Cornell, 4-1, Friday night at Lynah Rink. With the win, Harvard improves to 4-2-0 and 3-2-0 in ECAC play while Cornell (3-3-1, 1-3-1 ECAC) absorbs its first home loss of the season.
The energy was high when the puck dropped to start the game, but Cornell was a bit over enthusiastic and saw a player sent to the box just 14 seconds in for interference. While the Crimson power-play was held in check, Harvard sustained solid pressure in the early going, testing the Big Red defense. Patrick McNally nearly got the Crimson on the board before the 10-minute mark, but his low line drive struck the right pipe and bounced clear. Another great look for the Crimson fell by the wayside when a 2-on-1 saw Alex Fallstrom wrist a close range shot just high of the net.
Harvard would be the team to strike first, however, grabbing a 1-0 lead with 5:28 to play in the period. Patrick McNally made a great play to pick off a clearing pass in front of the blue line, drew the attention of the Cornell defense and dished to Alex Fallstrom who buried the back-door look for the early edge.
The Cornell response was swift when John Knisley blasted a shot from just inside the right point that beat Raphael Girard stick-side, knotting the score just 26 seconds later. While the Cornell goal brought the raucous crowd back to life, sophomore Mike Seward served to silence the Big Red faithful, collecting his first goal of the season and second of his career. Greg Gozzo and Tommy O'Regan worked the puck into the Cornell zone and O'Regan slid a pass back to Seward, who shot through traffic and beat Andy Iles glove-side for a 2-1 edge. The helper by O'Regan is his fifth in as many games, and he extended Harvard's longest point streak of the season to five games.
Girard was tested early and often in the middle stanza, as the hosts ripped 12 shots on goal to Harvard's five. Cornell had a key opportunity on a power-play just past the halfway point of the period, but the Harvard penalty kill was up to the task, allowing just one shot to reach Girard. Harvard dodged a bullet when it went on its lone power-play of the period when John Esposito controlled the puck on a short-handed breakaway but fired high and wide of the net.
The Crimson capitalized on a Cornell turnover in its own end to jump out to a 3-1 lead late in the second frame. Jimmy Vesey stepped in front of a Cornell clearing pass and charged towards the net. The freshman wound up to shoot, but at the last second dished to a wide-open Kyle Criscuolo, who blasted a one-timer into the back of the net, giving Harvard a two-goal cushion with 17:43 gone in the second.
The guests did not make it easy on themselves in the final period, getting booked for a pair of penalties within the first 10 minutes of the frame. Harvard once again dealt with a barrage of Cornell shots as Girard was forced to make 12 more saves in the third. As a last-ditch effort, Cornell pulled its goalie with just over a minute remaining, but an outlet pass from Danny Biega to Petr Placek saw the sophomore seal the 4-1 final with an empty net tally.
Girard finished the game with 34 saves on the night and was monumental in helping the Crimson kill all four Cornell power plays in the game. The win is Harvard's first of the season when being outshot by an opponent (35-17).
Harvard looks to complete the weekend sweep tomorrow night when it travels to Hamilton, N.Y., to take on Colgate in a 7 p.m. contest.