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No. 19 Men’s Hockey Edges Dartmouth in 18-Round Shootout Win

Then-sophomore forward Zakary Karpa fights for possession against Cornell on January 28, 2023.
Then-sophomore forward Zakary Karpa fights for possession against Cornell on January 28, 2023. By Dylan J. Goodman
By Bridget T. Sands, Crimson Staff Writer

No. 19 Harvard men’s hockey hit the road Friday and headed to Hanover, N.H. to take on the Dartmouth Big Green in its long-awaited season opener.

Though many other collegiate teams started their seasons at the beginning of October, the Ivy League schools traditionally start later. Other members of Harvard’s own conference, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), including last year’s NCAA champion Quinnipiac, already have a significant number of games under their belt.

In its first contest, the Crimson edged out the Big Green after 18 rounds of shootouts.

“I think they were a different Dartmouth team than we've seen in the past. I think they had a little bit more skill and speed to their game,” senior goaltender Derek Mullahy reflected.

“Obviously, every time we suit up we're looking to get three points. We ended up with two, which is I guess better than one or none, but I think there's a few things we did good or okay and there's a lot of things we can do better.”

“We're a pretty young team that's got a lot of inexperience and a lot of guys playing in new spots this year. It's gonna take a little bit to figure out,” sophomore forward Casey Severo added.

“I think it was a good first test and I think there were a lot of positives but just as any season the beginning is about figuring out what our identity is and how we're going to play and how we're going to win… [its] about learning and getting better each game and each week.”

Harvard drew its first power play of the season within the first minute of play. Its special teams look a lot different this year, with almost every member of last year’s top two power play units either having graduated or signed with NHL clubs.

Though there was ample opportunity, the unit failed to execute, only putting up three shots on goal in the two minutes. This failure to finish on offense was a recurring theme of the night. However, ​​for the remainder of the first period, Harvard dominated possession, neutralizing Dartmouth.

Mullahy, after backing up Mitchell Gibson for the past two years, got the start between the posts.

“[I’ve] been working hard every year just trying to earn the net. [I] really just focus on playing well, and I know if I do that, my time will come… with [Gibson] being gone, it left some opportunity for me to step in and play well and hopefully, I can keep doing that,” Mullahy said of the opportunity to start.

Benefiting from the Crimson’s defense, he was not significantly challenged until the end of the first, when Dartmouth put up their first big push on offense.

Harvard’s other special teams unit was tested early in the second period, as first-year defender Matthew Morden spent some time in the box for holding.

Consistent with the defensive strengths displayed in the first, the Crimson neutralized the Big Green’s power play, with Dartmouth failing to record a shot on goal. Within the last thirty seconds of the first power play, sophomore forward Philip Tresca was called for boarding. The Big Green kept possession until the end of the first power play, resulting in a delayed penalty call and consecutive man advantages rather than a 5-on-3 situation. Harvard again shut Dartmouth down, Mullahy knocking away the only shot on goal.

Following the penalty kills, the Crimson turned the offensive pressure onto the Big Green, resulting in the first goal of the game.

Junior captain and defenseman Ian Moore sent a cross-ice pass to sophomore defenseman Ryan Healey, who after attempting to find a lane for himself, dished the puck to first-year forward Cam Johnson behind the goal. Sophomore forward Casey Severo was waiting at the doorstep, received a pass from Johnson, and after his initial shot was stopped by Black, lifted it above his pads to find the twine for the Crimson’s first recorded goal of the season. Healey and Johnson were credited with the assists, marking Johnson’s first collegiate career point.

“We strung together a couple good shifts, and Ryan Healey and Cam Johnson made a nice play and I was able to just kind of whack at it in front of the net and eventually squirt it in,” Severo reflected.

“Don’t think it was the prettiest one but they don't ask how, so. It was good to get one early especially in the first game and kind of feel comfortable.”

Severo, who appeared in 27 of 34 contests for Harvard last year, hadn’t scored since last January against Northeastern.

“It feels like it's been a while. Would have liked to help the team a little more last year offensively with production. But I think that kind of speaks to our team this year and guys playing in different roles,” Severo commented.

“[We lost] pretty much all of our scoring so I think there's been an emphasis on needing guys to step up. It feels good to get one early and hopefully step into a scoring role and help his team offensively a lot more this year.”

Following the tally, the Crimson again went on the penalty kill, as sophomore forward Joe Miller was called for hooking. The remainder of the period was filled with back-and-forth momentum pushes from either team, and Harvard ended the frame with six shots on goal while Mullahy recorded 11 saves.

In the third period, Dartmouth flipped the script. The Big Green had two power play opportunities early in the period, first from a holding call on first-year forward Salvatore Guzzo, and then from the Crimson having too many men on the ice not 30 seconds after the first advantage was neutralized. Though neither opportunity ended in a goal, the Big Green sustained consistent offensive pressure and possession, making Harvard chase the puck.

Following the end of the second power play, Dartmouth kept momentum, and recovered multiple attempted clears by the Crimson. After intercepting a pass, Dartmouth sophomore Luke Haymes drove to goal, and put an initial shot on Mullahy. In his follow-through, Haymes ended up in a pile with Moore and Miller in the crease, preventing Mullahy from stopping Braiden Doorfman’s rebound attempt. With the goal, the Big Green evened the score with just over half of the final period remaining.

“Going into the third period with a lead is always what you want to do and great teams are able to hold that lead or build off of it,” Mullahy commented.

“I think that's one thing our team needs to learn –it's tough to win in this league and we can't just be giving away leads by taking too many penalties or not executing on simple or small plays that can ultimately lead to the puck being in the back of our net.”

In the final ten minutes and change, Harvard was given two power play opportunities, but was unable to execute. Though regaining dominance in possession, the Crimson failed to light the lamp and finished regulation tied at one.

Then-sophomore forward Alex Gaffney skates up the ice against Cornell on January 28, 2023.
Then-sophomore forward Alex Gaffney skates up the ice against Cornell on January 28, 2023. By Dylan J. Goodman

The hockey played in the five minute 3v3 overtime period was an extension of themes of the game. Harvard again dominated possession, and though opportunities were created, the team failed to finish, forcing a shootout.

Dartmouth had the first shot in the shootout, sending up the Doorfman, who Mullahy forced to shoot wide. Miller was sent out as the first Harvard shooter, but he sent the puck right into the pads of Black. As Mullahy stood strong in goal, head coach Ted Donato sent out first-year forward Ben MacDonald, followed by sophomore forward Philip Tresca, sophomore forward Marek Hejduk, Moore, and junior captain and forward Zakary Karpa.

However, none of them found the twine.

“I think it was definitely a serious tone for the first six or seven shooters. Then even the coaches, and the bench, the mood was kind of like is this really happening? Is nobody gonna score?” Severo recalled.

“It was definitely something to be a part of.”

Big Green first-year Owen Desilets’ shot in the 17th round was reviewed extensively before ultimately being deemed null. Desilets’ slapper hit the cross-bar behind Mullahy, but it bounced out before crossing the goal line.

A round later, in the 18th, Bar called game. Zooming down from midline, Bar faked a slap shot before finishing a wrister, lifting the puck above Black’s pads and sending Harvard home victors.

“We practice shootouts –and Jack came down on me [earlier this week] – and actually in the shootout against Dartmouth he faked the slap shot, but against me he actually scored on me on a slap shot, so I was expecting him to do the same thing,” Mullahy mentioned.

“There [were] two guys left on the bench and we were gonna have to go through the whole team again. So I’m happy he could get it done for us.”

Having gone a perfect 18 for 18 in the shootout, in addition to his 25 saves in regulation and overtime, Mullahy was recognized as ECAC’s first star of the night.

“I think all of us can say that Derek Mullahy was the star in that one. I think we all felt a little embarrassed it took us 18 [rounds] to finally get one but credit to credit to their goalie. Obviously Derek played amazing in that shootout and went 18 for 18,” Severo praised his goalie.

“I see them practice every day [and know] that guys can score in these shootouts. [I was] just trying to hold the fort, stay focused. I have the same routine in shootouts: I try to stay focused and not get out of my mind,” Mullahy talked through his process.

The Crimson will be back in action next weekend, this time on home ice. They will host Princeton on Friday at 7pm, followed by conference rivals No. 5 Quinnipiac on Saturday at 7pm. The anticipated competition in both games will further test the young team, offering an opportunity to continue establishing an identity.

“Definitely are two games that are going to be tight. Princeton always gives us a battle and is a tough team to play against. And then obviously Quinnipiac, on the next night, is playing Quinnipiac –definitely going to have to prepare for that one and bring our best game… [We want to] just keep building,” Severo commented.

- Staff writer Bridget T. Sands can be reached at Follow her on X @BridgSands

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