March 18, 2006
ECACHL Championship
Fast Forward for Harvard
Harvard got out of the gate quickly and left with an ECACHL title

By Joe Gladziszewski

Harvard 6, Cornell 2
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-H Jimmy Fraser (2) PP
4:30 B. McCafferty, D. Reese
2-H Dylan Reese (4) PP
13:33 C. Johnson, R. Maki
3-H Dan Murphy (17) PP
19:37 J. Fraser, B. McCafferty

Second Period

1-COR Michael Kennedy (3) EV
14:10 M. Carefoot
2-COR Ryan O'Byrne (7) EV
18:36 S. Pokulok, D. Pegoraro
4-H Jimmy Fraser (3) PP
19:04 D. Murphy
Third Period
5-H Dan Murphy (18) PP
6:09 J. Fraser, D. Reese
6-H Kevin Du (10) EV
10:12 D. Murphy, B. McCafferty
H: John Daigneau, 59:53, 19 saves, 2 GA
COR: Dave McKee, 50:12, 19 saves, 6 GA; Louis Chabot, 9:48, 4 saves, 0 GA
Penalties: H 8/16; COR 10/20
Power Plays: H 5-10; COR 0-8
Attendance: 7,093
All-Tournament Team
G: John Daigneau, Harvard (MOP)
D: Ryan O'Byrne, Cornell
D: Dylan Reese, Harvard
F: Kevin Du, Harvard
F: Jimmy Fraser, Harvard
F: Dan Murphy, Harvard

ALBANY, N.Y. – Coaches always talk about learning from losses, but Harvard did better than that. Not only did the Crimson win a game at Cornell on Feb. 18, they took a valuable lesson back to Cambridge along with the Ivy League Championship. They knew that day that things would be much easier against Cornell if they played better in the first period.

Consider the lesson learned. Harvard outclassed Cornell from the start and won its eighth ECACHL Tournament title, 6-2.

And just as a friendly reminder, the lesson was reinforced in Friday’s semifinal when Harvard started sluggishly against Dartmouth, but goaltender John Daigneau stood tall until the Crimson started to score at will.

“We came out a little slow against Dartmouth,” junior defenseman Dylan Reese said. “The first 10 minutes they beat us pretty good. We got lucky and once we scored a goal the floodgates kind of opened. Tonight we came out well, the ref gave us a lot of power plays, and once you get a lead like that you’re able to play a lot more confidently and aggressively.”

Daigneau didn’t have to hold the fort this time around as the Crimson dictated play from the drop of the puck and cashed in three power-play goals on five opportunities in the first period.

“We knew they were a very physical team and they took it to us when we were up there last time in Ithaca, so to have us outshoot them so badly in the first was good,” Daigneau said.

Harvard’s goals went in through screens, off redirections, and were aided by bounces from the boards and glass.

“Right off the bat we knew they were going to force us down to the net. I can go on goal by goal. It was just one of those nights,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “It was a long night. Sometimes things go well and sometimes they don’t. Tonight they didn’t go well.”

After outshooting Cornell 18-3 in the first period, the Crimson didn’t record a shot on net until more than 13 minutes had been played in the second period. Cornell crept back into the game and made the score 3-2 when Ryan O’Byrne wristed a shot through a screen with 1:24 left in the period. Harvard answered 27 seconds later, and freshman winger Jimmy Fraser was involved.

Fraser was thrown out of the face-off circle on an offensive zone draw. He assumed the left wing position on the boards. When Dan Murphy tied up Cam Abbott on the draw, Fraser swooped in, picked up the puck and back-handed it between Cornell goalie Dave McKee’s pads. That gave Harvard a two-goal cushion to take to the intermission and stole momentum back from the Big Red.

Fraser was awarded more ice time than usual when sophomore Jon Pelle suffered a lower-leg injury and had two goals and two assists in the game.


Dartmouth 3, Colgate 2
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-D Rob Pritchard (5) EV
3:39 J. Grecu
2-D Tanner Glass (12) PP
10:08 S. Offers, M. Ouellette

Second Period

3-D David Jones (17) EV
9:51 M. Ouellette, S. Offers
1-COL Marc Fulton (13) EV
12:22 N. St. Pierre, R. Smyth
Third Period
2-COL Marc Fulton (14) EV
15:40 R. Smyth, K. Wilson
COL: Mark Dekanich, 59:18, 39 saves, 3 GA
D: Mike Devine, 59:29, 21 saves, 2 GA
Penalties: COL 6/12; D 5/10
Power Plays: COL 0-5; D 1/6
Attendance: 7,093

Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet’s comments after Friday’s 10-1 clunker of a loss to Harvard in the semifinals were more a prediction about his players than a challenge to them.

“We celebrated 100 years of hockey this year and they’ve really given us a lot. As an alumnus, as a coach, and as a fan, they’ve given us a lot to feel good about,” Gaudet said on Friday evening. “They’ve put a lot of people in the building that have come out and supported us. We want to come out and play hard and end the year on a positive note.”

The Big Green attacked the first period in that manner. Dartmouth dominated the first period of play, scoring twice and out-shooting the Raiders 23-8 in the opening 20 minutes.

Both teams admitted that Friday’s result spurred the Big Green into action.

“After the loss they suffered yesterday, they were really wanting to come out and make a statement,” Colgate’s Jon Smyth said. “It seemed like for us, we had a little bit of trouble getting going. It’s not what we wanted to do.”

“It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we needed to come back here and play with a lot of pride and character,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said.

Gaudet made special mention throughout the weekend of his graduating senior class, which has won more games than any other group over four years. He also called senior captain Mike Ouellette one of the great captains in school history. Ouellette backed up that statement by playing a solid two-way game and helping motivate his team on Saturday.

“Our first challenge was to get up for the game, but we really had a lot to prove after last night’s loss,” Ouellette said. “We just rallied as a team and came out with a lot of grit and a lot of firepower and played our game.”

INCH's Three Stars of the Weekend

3. Mark Dekanich, Colgate
He kept his team in two games in which they were outplayed for long stretches, making 68 saves on the weekend.

2. Jimmy Fraser, Harvard
The rookie stepped into a power play role after an injury to Jon Pelle and factored in four goals in the championship game, scoring twice. He came into the weekend with just one goal on the season.

1. Dylan Reese, Harvard
The junior defenseman took care of the puck on the power play and was solid in his own end all weekend. His combination of responsibility and creativity typified Harvard’s weekend.


• Harvard benefited from the ice markings on the Pepsi Arena sheet. The attack zones are four feet larger for the American Hockey League’s Albany River Rats and all other AHL and NHL surfaces than the standard college rink. On Harvard’s 5-on-3 power play in the first period, a shot by Tom Walsh from the top of the left wing faceoff circle was blocked and trickled out toward the blue line. Walsh was able to race back and keep the puck in the zone near the line. Seconds later, Reese scored to give Harvard a 2-0 advantage.

• Rensselaer Director of Athletics Ken Ralph said the institute is in the process of evaluating the hockey program in all aspects – including the status of head coach Dan Fridgen. Fridgen’s contract ran through the just-completed season.

“We have to look at all things in totality and coaching is one of those," Ralph said. "There’s also funding, admissions standards, marketing and promotions, a lot of things. We haven’t won as much as we would like, but there are a lot of things we’re doing very well."

• Kudos to Dartmouth goaltender Mike Devine, who rebounded (pun intended) from Friday’s difficult outing to make 21 saves in a consolation game win. He made great back-to-back saves on Tyler Burton and Jon Smyth with 10:30 remaining in the game to help the Big Green maintain a 3-1 lead.

• The ECACHL will be making a return to Pepsi Arena next year for an October tournament featuring Colgate, Quinnipiac, Rensselaer, and Union. It has always been a challenge for non-Ivy schools in the conference to fill a non-conference schedule as other leagues around the nation are often involved in conference play on several weekends when ECACHL teams are not. Those teams will meet on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 28-29. Semifinal games will match Colgate and Quinnipiac at 4 p.m. RPI and Union will follow. A consolation game and championship will be played Sunday at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

• The only lineup change from Friday for either of the championship participants was a switch on the Harvard blueline. Sophomore defenseman J.D. McCabe replaced classmate David MacDonald, who missed the game due to injury.

• One of the problems caused by Harvard’s dominance in the first was a lonely goaltender at the other end, but Daigneau was prepared.

“I would’ve liked to have seen a little more action to keep me in the game but I’ve been working with Bruce Irving, our goalie coach. [He] has addressed the issue all year in case it happened,” Daigneau said.

• A follow-up from Harvard’s 10-1 whipping of Dartmouth in the semifinal round: It was the most goals scored by the Crimson in any game since Dec. 11, 1993, a 12-1 win at Yale. Current Crimson assistant coach Sean McCann was the Harvard captain that season. The 18 goals scored by Harvard over two games (they defeated St. Lawrence 8-4 in the quarterfinal round) was the biggest two-game output since the Crimson defeated Army 12-2 and Princeton 7-0 on Feb. 1-2, 1991. Current Crimson head coach Ted Donato was the captain of that Harvard team.

• Harvard’s tournament total of 32 goals was a single-season ECACHL Tournament record.

• Harvard’s Dylan Reese on tournament Most Outstanding Player John Daigneau answering skeptics following the graduation of Hobey Baker finalist Dov Grumet-Morris last year: “From the beginning a lot of reporters would ask about our goaltending and Johnny stepped up big this year,” Reese said. “He’s been unbelieveable. Johnny’s been everything Dov was, he’s been so good for us and that’s one of the main reasons we’re winning.”

• Harvard freshman defenseman Brian McCafferty had six assists on the weekend, increasing his season points total from nine to 15.

• Colgate senior Ryan Smyth played in his final game as a Raider on Saturday, the 154th of his career. That is a Colgate record.

• It was the first time since 1996 that the tournament’s top two seeds played in the consolation game. In that game, Vermont defeated Clarkson 3-1 in Lake Placid.


The early game marked the end of the collegiate careers of two of the league’s outstanding players – Colgate’s Jon Smyth and Dartmouth’s Mike Ouellette. Both seniors are undrafted free agents and will have busy cell phones in the coming days as professional teams make a pitch to sign them to contracts.

Due to several events in the Pepsi Arena before and after the ECACHL Tournament, there was no time to re-paint the ice surface, which included 10 advertisements in or near the neutral zone and two large Albany River Rats logos in the center ice circle. As was mentioned earlier, it had an impact on the game. That won’t be the case next weekend, as a “clean” playing surface will be used for the NCAA Regionals.


Harvard and Cornell will advance to the NCAA Tournament and their seeding and site will be announced on Sunday morning. It marks the fifth consecutive trip to the NCAAs for the Crimson. They’ve lost in the first round in the four previous tournaments. Cornell returns to the tournament for the fourth time in five years.

Dartmouth won its first conference title of any kind, sharing the regular-season crown with Colgate. The Big Green came to Albany as the number-one seed and officially established itself as a legitimate force in the ECACHL. They need to be a more consistent team in the future, but have a strong foundation of young players that has been mentored by excellent graduating veterans. The all-freshman fourth line of Kevin Swallow, Connor Shields and Ryan Bellows was particularly gritty and effective on Saturday.

Colgate junior Marc Fulton sees no reason why the Raiders shouldn’t be a factor in the ECACHL championship chase again next year, despite losing a strong senior class that included Jon Smyth and Kyle Wilson. First-team All-ECACHL honorees Mark Dekanich and Tyler Burton will return next season.

“We used to be a team that was in and out of the big picture with the national polls and stuff like that,” Fulton said. “Now Colgate’s a contender every year and that’s a statement we wanted to make.”