ATLANTIC CITY - On a roll is a term often used in this gaming resort when you get that feeling that nothing can stop you from a winning streak.
Put Harvard in that category as the Crimson dominated Cornell, 6-1, in the semifinals of the ECAC Hockey Championships Friday night before 3,462 at Boardwalk Hall.
Harvard (13-9-11) has won five of its last six and will meet powerful Union (23-7-7) in Saturday night’s final. On the line will be a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Harvard will be making its first trip to the ECAC final since 2008. Harvard won its last title in 2006 - and that was the last time the Crimson made the NCAA Tournament.
Harvard simply dominated the third-seeded Big Red behind the stingy goaltending of Raphael Girard and the scoring of forwards Alex Killorn and Marshall Everson, who each had two goals.
Girard stopped 18 shots while his teammates peppered Cornell’s Andy Iles with 30. Harvard jumped to a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back.
“I thought, as a team, we played an excellent game and we got goaltending when we needed it and we found the back of the net,’’ Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “To win by that large of a margin is good because Cornell has been a great team all year and we feel fortunate.’’
After Patrick McNally beat Iles at 4:38 of the first, Killorn scored at 7:11 to give Harvard a lead it would never relinquish.
Harvard also got a tally from Colin Moore in the second, his first of the season. Harvard held Cornell to no shots over the first nine minutes of the second period. Harvard simply never let Cornell get started in its end.
After two periods Harvard had outshot Cornell, 19-9. The Crimson have now held 19 of 21 opponents to three or fewer goals in 2012.
“I think it’s huge,’’ Killorn said of getting the 2-0 lead. “Especially against a team like Cornell, which is a great possession team. They don’t allow a lot of movement up and down the ice. It gave us that early jump.’’
Everson agreed with his linemate.
“We got that lead early and we didn’t let up,’’ Everson said. “Now we get Union and we owe them something from the way they beat us at Fenway [2-0 on Jan. 13] the last time we played them.’’
Harvard also tied Union, 3-3, when they played a week earlier in Schenectady, N.Y.
Union, which dominated Colgate, 6-2, in the first game of the evening, will be the favorite, but that seemed fine with the Crimson.
“We know what kind of hockey team they are,’’ Donato said. “But we are playing our best hockey of the year.’’
Donato added that getting the puck quickly out of the zone was the key. As was the early 2-0 lead.
“The first goal by McNally gave us a chance to catch our breath and then Alex’s goal was just a big-time play,’’ Donato said. “This group of kids have carried themselves very well win, lose or tie.’’
And so is Girard, who made big stops when it was needed. Don’t be deceived by the shot total, as Girard was very sharp for the Crimson, losing the shutout with 66 seconds left on a goal by Joel Lowry.
“I think he’s really solidified himself as our goalie and now he’s someone we really can rely on,’’ said Killorn of Girard. “That’s great to have especially in tight games and playoff games.’’