The men’s ice hockey team started off the weekend with a bang, scoring four goals in the opening frame against Harvard. However, the Elis were only able to muster two more goals the rest of the weekend against tight defense and excellent goaltending.
Harvard was expected to be one of the top teams in the ECAC, but they had been performing below par, dropping to eighth in the ECAC. Entering the weekend, the Crimson had dropped four of its last five games and was looking for a turn around. Backup goalie John Daigneau started the game. Having played in only four games, Daigneau was visibly rusty, and the Bulldogs were able to break through the Harvard defense to capitalize four times in the first period.
Daigneau was pulled at the end of the period and replaced by the Crimson’s top netminder, Duv Grumet-Morris.
“[Grumet-Morris] stepped in there and gave us a little spark,” Harvard forward Tyler Kolarik said. “Obviously we didn’t help [Daigneau] out very much. I just don’t think we gave [Daigneau] the support he needed in the first period. We [have] got to be there for him defensively.”
While Grumet-Morris provided the boost in goal, the Harvard defense tightened up, allowing only 15 shots on goal for the remainder of the game, after giving up 14 in the first period.
Off a pass from Zachary Mayer ’06, Yale forward Nathan Murphy ’04 slipped the puck past Grumet-Morris on a breakaway at 13:39 in the second — the Bulldogs’ lone goal against the Harvard starter. Down the stretch, the Bulldogs had many opportunities, but a stalwart Harvard defense limited Yale’s shots and Grumet-Morris made some big saves to keep the Elis off the board, letting his team sneak back into the game and eventually steal the win, 7-5.
While Harvard’s defense was heavily involved in the offensive zone, the Brown Bears provided Yale with a different look the following night. Backed by the Hobey Baker candidate and top goaltender in the nation Yann Danis, Brown’s defense clogged up the ice, refusing the Elis clear angles on goal.
“There were a few plays at the end where we were just trying to get shots on net,” Yale defenseman Jeff Dwyer ’04 said. “[Danis] is going to stop every first shot, he is an All-American candidate. He was leaving some juicy rebounds but we just couldn’t put them home.”
Eli forward Jeff Hristovski ’06 was able to bat in a rebound in the first period. Danis stopped every other Yale scoring chance, while the Brown defense swallowed up the rebounds.
“We didn’t capitalize on our power plays in the third and that was the difference,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said, “It was 2-1 going into the third and we had back-to-back power plays and we didn’t execute.”
After failing on the first power play of the third period, the Bulldogs got a second chance and had many great scoring opportunities, but Danis shut the door and the Bears went the other way for a shorthanded goal to pull ahead 3-1.
“I have always said the goaltender is the best penalty killer on any team and he has got to be good,” Taylor said, “We did force Danis to make some big saves on some good shots that we had on the power play.”
In the end Danis finished with 32 saves on 33 shots, and held the Eli power play scoreless.