Union-Harvard postgame report
You don't want to call the second ECAC Hockey game a must-win, especially when there are 20 more league contests left. But for the Union men's hockey team, Saturday's game against Harvard ranked pretty close to that.
The Dutchmen, who were coming off a subpar effort in a 5-2 loss to Dartmouth on Friday, pulled out a big win against the 18th-ranked Crimson.
Luke Cain had a goal and two assists, and the power play ended an 0-for-33 drought in a 3-1 victory at Messa Rink.
To view postgame comments, click here.
The Dutchmen had too many defensive breakdowns against the Big Green, leading to numerous odd-man rushes. Against the Crimson, the Dutchmen tightened up defensively, and didn't allow many odd-man breaks.
"[What] I'm most pleased about is we played our game," Union coach Nate Leaman said. "We played to our standard, and we played as a team. We certainly didn't beat ourselves."
The Dutchmen's maligned power-play, which hadn't scored in the last five games and had gone 0-for-11 against Dartmouth, helped them beat the Crimson.
After Harvard took a 1-0 lead on Alex Killorn's power-play goal at 9:10 of the second period, the Dutchmen received five straight power plays. They had the final 17 shots of the period, 15 of which came on the man advantages.
"It's been frustrating because, even [Friday] night, we had 12 created scoring chances, and we weren't really popping them," Leaman said. "Part of that was Dartmouth had such a great kill. It was good for us to get the power play going [against Harvard]."
It was done simply by shooting the puck. A Luke Cain left-circle drive was stopped by goalie Matt Hoyle, but the rebound came out to Matt Cook on the right side, and Cook fired it home.
During a two-man advantage, Lane Caffaro fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle over Hoyle's right shoulder late in the period.
The only even-strength goal came in the third period. Jeff Christiansen, playing in his first game of the year, led a two-on-one rush after Harvard defenseman Brian McCafferty failed to keep the puck in the Union zone at the left point. Skating down the right wing, Christiansen sent a pass to Cain on his left, and he put it home.
It was Christiansen's first point since he had a goal and an assist Feb. 17, 2007, against St. Lawrence, his freshman year. Christiansen played on only two games last year.
"He had a great week of practice," Leaman said. "He was finishing a lot in practice this week. Because of that, he's the guy who got the opportunity."
There was a big controversy with 39.3 seconds left in the game. With Hoyle out for an extra attacker, Killorn fired a shot from the right circle that beat goalie Corey Milan over his right shoulder. However, just as the puck was going over Milan's shoulder, Harvard forward Doug Rogers elbowed Milan in the mask. The initial call was a goal.
But after the four officials discussed the play, it went to video review. The goal was waved off, and that set Harvard coach Ted Donato off. He was given a bench minor and then ejected from the game when he continued to argue.
I have looked at the replay several times, and I believe the officials made the wrong call. It looked like the puck was just going by Milan's shoulder when Rogers bumped him.
Time for my three stars.
1) Luke Cain — a goal and two assists.
2) Lane Caffaro — power-play goal was the game-winner; also played a better defensive game.
3) Jeff Christiansen — big effort for his first game of the year.
That's all from me for now. Good Night! Good Hockey!