What a difference a day can make.
After an 11-0 loss Friday night, the worst loss in league playoff history, the Bobcats bounced back with a 7-4 victory over Harvard Saturday night, forcing a third and deciding game in their best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series tonight at 7 p.m. at the Bright Hockey Center in Cambridge, Mass.
Following Friday night’s debacle, head coach Rand Pecknold addressed his senior class, which is on the brink of ending their collegiate careers.
“I just said you guys don’t want to have any regrets. You want to go out fighting. We were embarrassed on Friday night. We needed to respond and quite honestly I was 100% confident that we’d play well tonight,” he said.
Apparently the message was heard loud and clear.
Senior Ben Nelson registered a goal and four assists, classmate Dan Henningson had two goals and two assists and senior captain Jamie Bates tallied two goals and assist of his own to lead the Bobcats.
“We were pissed off at ourselves and at Harvard, they definitely didn’t hold back, which they shouldn’t. But it kind of eats at you a little bit, so we worked hard tonight,” Bates said. “It was a sour taste in the dressing room Friday night and we wanted to come out and show what kind of hockey team we are.”
The Bobcats took out their frustration on the Crimson early on, jumping out to a 2-0 lead 8:10 into the first period on goals by Bates and Nelson. Bates’ tally was the Bobcats first of four power play goals on the night.
Harvard answered on a goal by Pier-Olivier Michaud exactly five minutes later, but a power play tally by Dan Henningson through traffic in front of Crimson netminder Kyle Richter restored the Bobcats two-goal lead.
The Crimson cut the lead in half on a goal by Jon Pelle with 1:41 remaining in the period, taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power play opportunity.
A pair of power play goals by Bates and Henningson 2:54 into the second stanza gave the Bobcats a 5-2 lead.
Harvard answered on a goal by Alex Meintel and seemed to grab some of the momentum midway through the period. But Eric Lampe stole it back for the Bobcats with just 26 seconds left. His short-handed breakaway erupted the Bobcat faithful that made the trip to Cambridge and restored the Bobcats’ three-goal lead.
The Crimson dominated the third period, outshooting the visitors 22-5, but Bobcat goalie Bud Fisher was equal to the task. Fisher was beaten once in the period, on Meintel’s second of the game, but made numerous saves at key times in the period to keep the Crimson at bay.
“I didn’t play as well as I would’ve liked Friday night. I just tried to put it behind me,” Fisher said. “I just focused on battling through everything, they get a lot of traffic and I tried to give it everything I had. The guys had a great night tonight.”
The winner of game three tonight advances to the ECAC Championships at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. next weekend.