On January 14th, the Union College Dutchmen and the Harvard Crimson faced off in Schenectady, New York. Union won the game 2-1 and put themselves atop the ECAC. Almost a month later, the teams met at the Bright-Landry Center to determine the season series and determine the high seeds in the ECAC. Union was 6th ranked and Harvard was 4th ranked going into the game.
Harvard came out firing, hungry for a conference victory and looking to build momentum before Monday’s Beanpot Title game. To open the game, both teams skated well, and looked for an early lead. Unfortunately for the Dutchmen, Ryan Donato was aggressive on the defensive side, stealing it off Jeff Taylor’s stick and putting it past Jake Kupsky for the only goal of the first period. The two teams were even in almost every way after the first period. Both teams had just one power play and Harvard only had one more shot than the Dutchmen, eight to seven.
The Crimson dominated the second period, controlling the pace of the game and forcing the Dutchmen to switch goaltenders. Donato got his second goal of the game on a shot from the right circle. Four minutes later, Viktor Dombrovskiy netted his third goal of the year on a blue line shot. While the Public Address Announcer was announcing the scoring on Dombrovisky’s goal, Harvard scored another goal, this time off Sean Malone’s stick. After Malone’s goal, Union called a timeout and inserted Joe Young into their net. He would face 13 shots for his time in the game, the same number as his predecessor, and allowed no goals. He needed a performance like that to keep his team in the game when down 4-0 after two periods.
Union came into the game tied with Omaha for the most goals in the third period, with 39. If any team could make a comeback in the third period, it would be Union. They made a great game of it, outshooting Harvard 17-13 in the frame and netting two goals. The first one came from Hobey Baker candidate Mike Vecchione on a one-timer from the right circle. The second one came on a controversial putback from Sebastian Vidmar right in front of Harvard goaltender Merrick Manson. The officials originally called it a no goal but reviewed it to ensure there wasn’t a high stick. There wasn’t, and Union cut the lead down to two. Unfortunately, they never got it closer. With 2:30 left, the Dutchmen pulled Young from their net to get an extra skater. Unfortunately, Donato got two empty net goals to ice the game and give Harvard a 6-2 victory over the Crimson and a season split with the Dutchmen.
Union Head Coach Rick Bennett was unavailable for comment after the game.
Harvard’s head coach, Ted Donato, praised the veteran guile of his forwards and the mental approach his team is taking into play. Merrick Madsen and Coach Donato both praised the efforts of Athletic Trainer Matt Whalen for getting Madsen ready to play after Madsen suffered a lower body injury in the waning seconds of Harvard’s victory over Northeastern in Monday’s Beanpot opener.
Union plays again tomorrow night in Hanover, New Hampshire, against the Big Green of Dartmouth College. Puck drops at 7 PM at Thompson Arena. Harvard has a few days to rest before their biggest game of the season so far. They play on Monday against the Boston University Terriers for the Beanpot Title. Puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 at the TD Garden.