Fraser's performance highlights Harvard championship victory
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. So it turns out that, sometimes, offense wins championships.
Coming into Saturday night's ECAC championship game, the Cornell Big Red, second in the nation in penalty killing efficiency, had killed off 26 consecutive penalties. But the Crimson of Harvard had scored 18 times in the past two games. And they weren't about to back off yet.
With the title on the line, Harvard went 5-for-10 on the man-advantage, and on the other end, shut down all eight of Cornell's power play opportunities. The result? A 6-2 win for Harvard, highlighting a weekend in which the Crimson outscored its opponents 16-3 en route to its 8th ECAC championship.
"The game plan was to keep things simple on the power play, as well as on the penalty kill," said Harvard freshman Jimmy Fraser. "Whenever a team scores on the power play, everyone's confidence goes up."
Fraser, who had only scored one goal all season, stepped in for an injured Jon Pelle and scored two times on the power play. The first gave the Crimson a 1-0 lead only 4:30 into the first period, while the second gave Harvard a 4-2 lead and snuffed out Cornell's comeback bid.
That fourth Harvard goal was scored with less than a minute to go in the second period and was undoubtedly the key moment in the contest, as the Big Red had cut a three-goal Crimson lead to one. On the play, Harvard's Dan Murphy won the faceoff, which was to Cornell goaltender Dave McKee's left. The puck squirted out to Fraser in the slot, who backhanded it under a surprised McKee.
"That may have been the real turning point, the fourth goal," said Harvard coach Ted Donato after winning his first career ECAC championship as a coach. "The score was 3-2. We got on the power play because guys like Mike Taylor and Charlie Johnson did a good job on the forecheck. That turned the momentum around."
Said Cornell coach Mike Schafer, "That was a tough one to swallow, the 4-2 goal. To me, it was the turning point of the game. We had the momentum going into the end of the period. And then it was a chain of events — we make a blunder, our defenseman ran into the linesman going to the net, and they capitalized. We clawed our way back in, and then we let it slip away."
Fraser's clutch performance was one of the main topics of discussion following the game. Donato, for one, was not surprised by the rookie's play.
"Jimmy's played a lot on the power play this year, whether it was up front or on the blue line," said Donato. "To win any type of championship, you need guys to step up."
While Harvard seemed to score at will on the power play, Cornell's man-advantage chances did not go as well. In the second period alone, the Big Red was 0-for-5 on the power play. For the game, Cornell went 0-for-8.
"We had our chances tonight, and the Harvard goalie stepped up and made some big saves," said Cornell defenseman Ryan O'Byrne. "Unfortunately, it wasn't clicking, but that's the way it goes sometimes."