Amidst a four-game non-losing streak (three wins and one tie since Feb. 21), the Harvard men’s hockey team (21-8-2) picked up two of its biggest victories of the season this past weekend with a two-game sweep of Vermont in the best-of-three ECAC quarterfinals. With the wins, a 4-2 decision on Friday (March 14) and a 5-1 conquest on Saturday (March 15), the Crimson advances to the semifinals in Albany, N.Y. where they’ll face Dartmouth on Friday (March 21). If all goes well against the Big Green, the icers will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
In Friday’s opening match, junior forward Dennis Packard registered his first career hat trick to propel the Crimson past the Catamounts. The Crimson took an early 1-0 lead when sophomore Tom Cavanagh found an unmanned Kenny Turano ’04, who one-timed the puck past Vermont netminder Shawn Conschafter. In the second stanza, Harvard took advantage of the power play when Brett Nowak ’03 fired a pass to Packard, who nailed the puck through the pipes for the 2-0 lead. With five ticks remaining in the period, a lone Packard grabbed his second goal beating Conschafter with a high-wrist shot to give Harvard the 3-0 edge.
For radio and television broadcast information for this weekend’s hockey and women’s basketball action, visit www.fansonly.com/schools/harv/genrel/031803aaa.html.
Vermont responded halfway through the third period with a pair of power-play goals to cut the lead, 3-2. The Catamount rally was short-lived, however, as a hot-handed Packard accepted a cross-ice pass from Rob Fried ’04 at the 13:15 mark to secure his hat trick, and the 4-2 win.
Led by a one-goal, four-assist outing by captain Dominic Moore ’03, Harvard sealed the deal on Saturday with an impressive 5-1 win. And unlike the previous evening, in which Vermont provided a third-period scare, the Crimson kept the Cats at bay by protecting the puck and limiting power-play opportunities. The Crimson exploded for three goals in the opening period alone, taking 44 shots on goal in the game to Vermont’s 23. All told, Harvard’s five seniors each notched a point in their final game at the Bright Center.
In women’s action, the visiting Crimson dropped a 7-2 decision to Dartmouth in the ECAC title game on March 16 to end Harvard’s unbeaten streak at 27 games. The No. 2 Crimson (29-2-1) will get a chance to avenge its only other loss of the season (a 4-3 defeat against Minnesota on Nov. 17) when Harvard battles the No. 3 Gophers for all the marbles at the 2003 NCAA Frozen Four in Duluth, Minn. on Friday (March 21) at 5 p.m. Top-seeded Minnesota-Duluth will meet fourth-ranked Dartmouth in the second game. The championship game will be held on Sunday (March 23) at 5 p.m.