March 10, 2012

Series Sent to Game 3

Ford's Goal in 2nd OT Evens Series

BOSTON, Mass. – One of the longest and wildest games in the long history of Yale-Harvard men's hockey came to an end at 9:20 of the second overtime when Dan Ford's slap shot from the left dot sailed over a number of Bulldogs piled in the crease to give the Crimson a 4-3 win and even the best-of-three, ECAC Quarterfinal Playoff Series at 1-1.

Conor Morrison's shot from the high slot was blocked in front, and nine of the 10 players on the ice were low and looking for the rebound. It's possible that none of those nine players ever saw the puck until it bounced off the back of the net. Ford, playing defense on the left side, came in from the point and blasted a slap shot as the puck slid to the dot in the circle. Two Bulldogs were lying on the ice around Yale goalie Nick Maricic, who was also trying to find the puck while on his stomach. Some of the Elis even had their backs turned to the puck.

 "I don't think anyone in the building knew where it was. The puck got shot into a pile and it took half a second for it to come clear. It went right to the one guy who was facing the goal," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach.

The loss spoiled Maricic's career-high 49-save effort, one that deserved a better result. The Bulldogs (16-15-3) might have closed out the series with any productivity from its power play. Yale went scoreless on 11 chances, while the Crimson (11-9-11) were able to erase a 2-0 deficit with three straight power-play goals.

Harvard may have had the advantage in shots, 15-10, in the opening period, but Yale was the opportunistic team. Colin Dueck and Chad Ziegler hit the net even-strength and Maricic was spectacular with all kinds of tough saves, including three penalty kills.

Raphael Girard (48 saves) made some tough stops too, but he didn't see as much rubber, even with four Yale advantages. The Crimson didn't get hurt by taking three penalties in the first 11 minutes because the Elis never really got sustained pressure.

Dueck's third goal of the year came on a shot from the point that found its way through bodies and bounced hard off the upright pad at 5:17. Ziegler got an assist for sending the puck to the top of the left circle for the junior defenseman.

Ziegler was rewarded for his pass when he got a great feed from Andrew Miller at 16:36. The senior winger was set up in the middle slot and Miller's pass was one-timed over Girard for his eighth of the season.

The Yale goalie, who dove on three or four pucks in dangerous situations, stopped Alex Fallstrom on a mini-breakaway with eight minutes left. Alex Killorn also came in alone on the Bulldog net and had the near corner ticketed until Maricic stuck out his leg at the last second as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

The Crimson, which has led the nation in power-play efficiency for most of the year, used two advantages to tie it at 2-2 in the second. Danny Biega whizzed a slap shot through traffic waist high at 8:09 to cut the margin in half before Marshall Everson one-timed a feed from behind the goal line top shelf at 16:07.

Both sides had plenty of chances to add to the period's scoring with 26 shots on net combined. Maricic (14 saves, 5 on the PK) and Girard (10) weathered numerous scares to get to the second intermission without further damage.

The Bulldogs were unable to create time and space with the man-advantage and was scoreless on its first eight chances through two-plus periods, producing just seven shots on target. The power play to start the third did not include one shot on Girard.

Harvard made it three straight with yet another power-play tally. Biega got his second of the night with a rising slap shot from the point at 11:20, his 10th of the year.

Yale was struggling to get pressure on the home end at 5-on-5 in the third period despite 11 shots on target. Time was running out and the visitors were heading for a heartbreaking 3-2 decision. Yale still had another chance with its final power play of the game with just over four minutes left. The Blue put three shots on goal but came up empty again.

Finally, it came down to getting the extra skater and an extra ounce of desperation. With under a minute left, Yale got three or four shots including a mad scramble in front of Girard, and the last one found the net. Kevin Peel sent a pass from the point to the left circle for Clinton Bourbonais, who turned and fired off Girard's pads. The puck came within reach of Antoine Laganiere. As the junior forward was falling to the ice, he sent the rebound from the mid slot inside the right post with 27 seconds left.

Overtimes can often lack flow, feature careful play and include referees sticking their whistles in their pants. There was nothing slow or conservative (27 shots) about the first extra session, which included two power plays for both teams. Yale had a 16-11 edge in shots and the most grade-A chances.

"I thought the third period was our best period to that point, and then I thought the first overtime was better. I thought we were getting stronger as the game went on," said Allain.

Harvard had the first advantage, then Yale got an opportunity before the Crimson had another. The Blue's final power play of the first OT was its best with three or four grade-A situations (a clear look with no defender between the man with the puck and the goalie from short range). Girard stood on his head on those and sent the game into another sudden-death period.

The Elis had four of the seven shots on goal in the second OT, but Harvard's third sent the series to Sunday.

"You gotta put it by you. It's a series. The quicker we can put it behind us and get our bodies ready for a hockey game tomorrow, the better we will be," said Allain.

 

BULLDOG BITES

Antoine Laganiere's goal was his 18th this year, three behind Brian O'Neill's team-high 21 tallies…The last multiple-overtime Yale-Harvard game was at New Haven in 1934, a 5-4 Yale win in two extra sessions… Yale used the same lineup as Friday night… This is the first time a Yale-Harvard playoff series has gone to three games… Quinnipiac and Colgate was the only other playoff series to require three games after the Bobcats won Saturday.

 

Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director  

Photo  by Jason Grohoske

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