Harvard huddles up prior to its contest against Yale Saturday night (Photo courtesy: Justine Agaloos).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 13/13 Harvard men's ice hockey team suffered its first defeat of 2012-13 as Yale pulled away in the third period to win, 5-1, at Bright Hockey Center Saturday night.
The Bulldogs scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to break open a tight contest against the Crimson, which falls to 2-1-0 overall and 1-1-0 in ECAC and Ivy League play. Yale improves to 2-1-1 overall and 1-1-0 in ECAC and Ivy League play.
Kyle Criscuolo netted his second goal in as many nights for the lone Harvard tally. Tommy O'Regan and Brian Hart both picked up assists, their second and first of the season, respectively. Goaltender Raphael Girard made 44 saves, just four off his career high, set against Yale last season.
Harvard nearly got on the board first as Luke Greiner clanked a shot off the post to just miss giving Harvard a lead in the early going. Instead, Yale was able to find the back of the net 3:20 into the game as Jesse Root scored on a 2-on-2 break with a shot into the lower left corner on the glove side.
The Crimson evened the score just over seven minutes later. O'Regan delivered a centering pass to Hart in front of the crease, who skated across the front of the net before backhanding the puck to Criscuolo. The junior came crashing down to the goal and tapped it past Yale netminder Jeff Malcolm for the equalizer.
The teams would trade chances for the rest of the period, but neither team could capitalize as the score remained deadlocked.
Yale dominated the early going of the second period and reclaimed the lead with 16:33 remaining in the frame as Root found the back of the net a second time. Colin Dueck passed the puck into Root from the point, and the junior was denied once before cleaning up his rebound to restore the Bulldogs' advantage.
From there, Yale continued to pepper Girard, but the Quebec native stonewalled the Yale offensive attack, making 18 saves in the period. Harvard's best chance to even the score came on a two-on-none breakaway; however, Connor Morrison's attempt to go up top was saved.
In the third, Harvard had another opportunity to even the score. Morrison redirected a centering pass from Patrick McNally that was kicked away by Malcolm just over a minute into the frame.
Harvard's failure to capitalize came back to haunt the team as the Bulldogs took advantage of a power play. Yale worked the puck around its zone before Trent Ruffolo flicked a wrister from just to the right of the goal that trickled past Girard to extend the Yale advantage to two.
Harvard continued to put pressure on Malcolm in goal, but he continued to prove up to the task. After Harvard nearly drew within one, Kenny Agostino capitalized on a two-on-none counterattack, slipping the puck past a sprawling Girard to make it 4-1.
Yale tacked on one more goal with seven seconds left as Agostino tallied his second on a breakaway to cap off the night.
The Bulldogs outshot the Crimson, 49-29, on the night, and also capitalized on two power plays, while Harvard, which had the nation's top ranked power play last year, went 0-4 with a man advantage.
The Crimson returns to ECAC action Friday, Nov. 9, against Union at 7 p.m. at Bright Hockey Center.