March 17, 2006 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Ten Nails in the Coffin

Harvard Uses Experience, Goaltending To Dismantle Dartmouth

by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer

ALBANY, N.Y. — On Thursday, in his address to the media, Colgate head coach Don Vaughan spoke of "the game within the game" — the mental, often-intangible aspects of hockey such as how a team is able to respond from momentum swings.

This often comes down to experience, and in Friday's first ECAC semifinal, Harvard showed why they have advanced to the championship game four — now five — consecutive years: they simply know how to win. And against their travel partner, they not only won, they dominated, knocking the Big Green out of the tournament by a score of 10-1 — the most lopsided ECAC Final Four game since 1967.

The final score makes it easy to forget, but the Big Green was only down 2-0 after the first period. With an explosive offense featuring the likes of Mike Ouellette, Tanner Glass and Eric Przepiorka, among others, Dartmouth still had enough fire power to get back in it.

Except by that point, Harvard smelled blood. Scoring three goals in the first five minutes of the second period, Harvard extended the lead to 5-0, eventually chasing Dartmouth goaltender Mike Devine from the game. Another testament to the importance of experience in the playoffs is that Devine was the only goaltender of the four starters in Albany this weekend who had never experienced the ECAC Final Four as a player.

"I think one of the reasons is experience," said Harvard coach Ted Donato. "We have four lines that keep coming at you. We're not a team that relies on a few guys, and I think that was evident today. We were still hungry all the way to the end."

While Devine struggled, the Harvard netminder, John Daigneau, stopped 34 of 35 shots before Justin Tobe mopped up. But his biggest saves came when the score was still 0-0, robbing Przepiorka during a Dartmouth power play chance, and a few minutes later, stoning Nick Johnson on a shorthanded breakaway.

"In the first five or 10 minutes of the game, John made some saves that were very big for us," said Donato. "In a perfect world, I would have liked him to get the shutout because he deserved it."

Added Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, "He's an excellent goaltender. He was seeing the puck really well tonight. He looked like he was in a pretty good zone."

Those saves early in the game gave the Crimson confidence, and before the Big Green could catch their breath, the flood gates opened. Harvard has now scored 18 goals in its last two games, after scoring 17 in the previous five combined.

Again, chalk it up to the experience factor. Only one of the forwards who played for the Crimson today did not have experience in an ECAC Final Four game. On the other side, Dartmouth had seven.

Harvard will hope their offensive firepower will continue in tomorrow night's ECAC title game, when the Crimson will look to win their third league crown in the last five years.

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