NEW YORK — No. 18 Harvard (8-5-2, 6-3-1 ECAC) flipped the tables Saturday night, bringing home a 7–0 shutout at the Rivalry on Ice after Yale won the first two contests of its kind in 2014 and 2016. The game, held at Madison Square Garden, concluded the Bulldogs’ stretch of winter break competition that saw the Elis go 2–2.
The Yale men’s hockey team (5–10, 3–8 ECAC) confidently strode into the new year with a four-game winning streak against RPI, Union, Maine and McGill. Though New Hampshire halted the Blue and White’s success in a 4–1 defeat, the Elis came roaring back with a 3–2 overtime victory against Vermont to prelude the storied Rivalry on Ice matchup. While the team traveled around New England, one member of the squad, forward Curtis Hall ’22, took a journey of his own to the Czech Republic to play at the World Junior Championships. Hall netted one goal for the U.S.A. during its competition against Germany. Hall then transferred his talent to the Blue and White, breaking away with the puck in overtime against the Catamounts to secure a 3–2 victory. Offensive pressure forced Vermont to buckle as the Elis pulled goalie Corbin Kaczperski ’20 in order to make room for a sixth player on the ice.
In New York, however, no Yale player made any discernible mark on Harvard rookie netminder Mitchell Gibson, who contributed 27 out of 31 saves for the Crimson. Yale’s net looked close to impenetrable after giving up just one goal in the first period — a frame in which Harvard outshot the Elis 18–9. The trouble started early in the second period, though, when forward Jack Donato’s wrister from the left side of the crease tallied 2–0 on the scoreboard. From there, the MVP of the night, forward Jack Drury, went on to score a hat trick, and the Crimson shut out the Bulldogs with a seven-point advantage. Though the contest featured several brawls between players, in the final few moments of the game, Kaczperski was ejected due to a penalty for contact to the head.
“I thought [Harvard] had really good offensive playing. They were able to possess the puck, and I don’t think we defended that well,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “I give them a lot of credit for doing what [Harvard was] able to do out there.”
Harvard wasted no time in exerting its dominance on the match, outshooting the Elis six to nothing through the opening four minutes of the game. Kaczperski, however — fresh off of ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Month honors for stopping 91 of 93 shots in December — stood strong, keeping the Crimson scoreless on each of its six shots attempted. Yet, just as the Bulldogs seemed to be settling into the game, the floodgates opened on Harvard’s first power play opportunity. Forward Nick Abruzzese’s pass to the slot found the stick of Drury, stationed on the right goal post. The first year swiftly redirected the puck into an exposed part of the net to give Harvard a one-goal lead.
Both Kaczperski and Gibson stood strong for the remainder of the first period, with Gibson in particular displaying shrewd skill in turning away several Yale shots. Any hope for a Bulldog turnaround in the second period quickly dissipated, as captain Nathan Krusko stopped behind Yale’s net, made an athletic cut to the front and slipped in the biscuit past an outstretched Kaczperski to make it 2–0 just a minute into the second frame. Harvard’s lead extended to three midway through the period on a slapshot from Baker Shore, as the Crimson had begun to pull away with the game.
“[Harvard] played a solid game … [the players] defended [their lead] well, and [they] did a good job,” captain and forward Evan Smith ’20 said.
The rout was officially on in the final period, and Drury remained hot with a wrist shot that zipped its way to the back of the net. A turnover in the Elis’ own defensive zone spelled disaster, as Kaczperski was unable to stave off the ensuing 3-on-1, with Casey Dornbach notching in his team-leading ninth goal of the season to make it 5–0. Six minutes later, Drury secured his first collegiate hat trick.
Drury also recently returned from the Czech Republic, where he played with Team U.S.A. alongside Hall. The Illinois native won a silver medal with the team in 2019 and put away three points for the Crimson on Saturday night. His uncle, Chris Drury, spent the last several years of his NHL career with the New York Rangers, and the sophomore noted that playing at Madison Square Garden was meaningful for him and his family. Though Drury is a star forward, he attributed Harvard’s success to the joint effort of all positions.
“[The bottom six] are always a huge part of our team,” Drury said. “You look at consistency, playing the right way, they always do a good job of that. The way they cycle the puck helps us a lot. I think our forward depth and our depth is a huge strength of ours. We know that all four lines can create scoring chances and can score goals … We have a tight-knit group. It starts with the coaches and the staff and everyone around us. We’re a really close team and the support we all have for each other is awesome.”
Harvard found the back of the net eight seconds later to register its seventh and final goal of the night. Nick MacNab ’21 ended the night in goal after Kaczperski was ousted from the contest in feisty fashion.
The Bulldogs return to action this weekend in New Haven against fellow ECAC foes Union and RPI.
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