It only took a three and a half minutes in the second period for Harvard to put the game out of the reach of Yale’s struggling offense. Although only trailing by one at the time, the Bulldogs let up their guard during that brief time to give Harvard a commanding 4-0 lead, a deficit from which the Bulldogs never recovered.
It began at 6:28 in the second, with another failed clearing attempt by the Bulldogs. Crimson forward Tom Cavanagh stole the puck as the Elis tried to get it out of their zone. Cavanagh got the puck to forward Tim Pettit who fired a shot past Josh Gartner ’06 to give the Crimson a 2-0 lead.
Just 38 seconds later Harvard struck again. Crimson forward Tyler Kolarik dished the puck to Brendan Bernakevitch who relayed a pass to Noah Welch and Welch rifled the puck past Gartner.
With momentum largely in its favor, Harvard did not slow down, tallying another goal at 9:57. The play began when Pettit chipped the puck out of the Harvard zone, at which point Dennis Packard — flying down the ice — picked up the puck. Packard then flipped the puck over the stick of an Eli defenseman to Cavanagh, who tallied his second point of the night to extend the Harvard lead to 4-0.
At that point, one might expect a faltering Yale team to pack its bags and head for the doors. But the Bulldogs did quite the opposite.
“We were all pretty proud of ourselves the way that we came out and fought to end the period,” Yale forward Jeff Hristovski ’06 said. “In the third period, we all felt that we really outplayed Harvard, and if we had played like that the whole game there was no doubt we could have beaten them that night.”
Yale’s only goal came at 1:46 into the third period, when Eli captain Vin Hellemeyer ’04 fired a wrist shot past Harvard goalie Dov Grumet-Morris. Hellemeyer’s tally was assisted by Zach Mayer ’06 and Hristovski.
In the end Harvard only outshot Yale 27-26, but in the third period Yale outshot the Crimson 9-7, while dictating much of the physical play, and finishing the game on a positive note.
“The third period [of the Harvard game] has been the best complete period that we played so far this season,” said Joe Zappala ’06. “We made a lot of good strides. Vin Hellemeyer scored his first goal of the season, which is good; we are going to need him to have a good stick. We just started to play better; guys were skating well, moving the puck well, so I think there is something positive we can take from the weekend.”
Aside from that brief moment, the Bulldogs said they believed they played an excellent game.
“[Harvard] was one of our best games on the season; we just have to focus on playing a full game,” Hellemeyer said.
Taylor also took many positives from the game.
“My message to the guys at the beginning of the game was to battle for every inch of ice out there, and I think they did,” Taylor said.
Yale’s momentary defensive letdown has not been uncommon thus far this season.
In their season-opening 8-4 loss to North Dakota Oct. 31, the Bulldogs gave up two goals in the opening five minutes of both the first and second periods.
Against Cornell Nov. 7, the Elis only trailed 2-1 after the first period. However the Big Red quickly extended its lead with two tallies in the first 3:34 of the second period, and ended up winning 6-2.
In the Bulldogs only victory of the season on Nov. 8, they allowed the game to go into overtime when Colgate scored twice during a 2:14 span in the third period.
“So far we have trouble obviously on defense from mental breakdowns,” Hristovski said. “If you look at every game, there has always been that short span that is really costing us the game. We just have to take those moments we have every game and decrease that time span.”
Overall, the team knows that every second of the game counts and eliminating these lapses is a key to success.
“We have to put together a 60-minute game if we want to beat some of these teams,” defensemen Joe Callahan ’05 said.