Harvard’s quest for a second-straight ECAC men’s hockey championship fell just short Saturday night, as the No. 6 Crimson fell to Colgate, 3-2, in the conference title game at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Colgate’s only other ECAC tournament championship came in 1990, and with Saturday’s win, the Raiders (19-5-5) also secured a place in their first NCAA tournament since 2014.
“Somebody along the way said, ‘Good things come to those who wait,’ ” longtime Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said. “Well, it’s been 30 years for me, so I’m really thrilled to be in this position with a championship going back to Colgate and our great fans.”
Despite the loss, which ended a 10-game unbeaten streak, Harvard (24-7-2) will earn an at-large bid and will be in the 16-team field for the second straight year.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” head coach Ted Donato said. “It’s certainly exciting that we have more hockey ahead, but it doesn’t really feel too good right now, the feeling we have after a tough loss for the tournament championship. I think we need to learn from it and use it as motivation as we move forward.”
The Raiders, who knocked off national No. 2 Quinnipiac in double overtime Friday, started strong Saturday. After Harvard’s Alex Laferriere took an interference penalty just 39 seconds in, Colgate senior Colton Young buried a one-timer from the slot 1:01 into the game.
“You don’t want to chase the game,” Donato said of giving up the early goal. “I just think it gave them a shot of adrenaline right away, and I thought that for the next several minutes, they won most of the puck battles and the races to pucks and put us behind the 8-ball.”
Not to be outdone by his brother, junior Alex Young doubled the Raiders’ lead with a highlight-reel goal. Young stole the puck at his own blue line and raced down the ice on an odd-man rush. He stickhandled first around Harvard senior Ryan Siedem, who slid to the ice in an attempt to block a pass, then around the stick of Crimson goalie Mitchell Gibson before slotting the puck home at 12:47.
The Crimson cut into the deficit 6:01 into the second when defenseman Henry Thrun sent a wrist shot through traffic, beating Colgate goaltender Carter Gylander high glove side. Harvard continued to build momentum after the goal, but Colgate restored the two-goal lead less than four minutes later. Junior Levi Glassman crashed the net on a 4-on-2 rush and swatted an airborne puck past Gibson at 9:38.
It remained 3-1 until 7:05 remained in the third. During a scrum in front of the net on the power play, sophomore Matthew Coronato snuck in at the back side and knocked the loose puck past Gylander.
But despite Harvard pulling Gibson for an extra skater with 2:16 to go, and out-attempting Colgate, 96-35, Gylander was up to the task. The Raiders blocked 36 shot attempts on the night, and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player made 14 of his 34 saves in the third period to secure the win.
“Obviously this one stings,” Thrun said. “Huge opportunity for us in the NCAA tournament. Obviously, [we’ll] take a minute here and regroup and regather ourselves, but starting on Monday, we’ll try to prep for our first matchup of the NCAAs.”
The NCAA field will be revealed at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.
Canisius 3, Holy Cross 0 — The Crusaders’ run to the Atlantic Hockey title game as the No. 7 seed fell short in Buffalo as the host Golden Griffins (20-18-3) got 24 saves from Jacob Barczewski and a goal from graduate transfer Nick Bowman late in the second period. They added two empty-netters to close out Holy Cross (17-21-3), which was seeking its first conference title and NCAA appearance since 2006.