PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The first-seeded Harvard men's hockey team clinched a spot in the Frozen Four for the first time since 1994, taking down third-seeded Air Force, 3-2, in the East Regional final at the Dunkin' Donuts Center Saturday night. The Crimson will square off with Minnesota-Duluth in the Frozen Four on April 6.
Following the game, goaltender Merrick Madsen was reconized as the East Regional's Most Outstanding Player. Madsen is the first Harvard player to earn MOP honors at an NCAA Regional. Joining him on the all-tournament team were Tyler Moy, Ryan Donato and Adam Fox.
Harvard (28-5-2) won its second-straight NCAA tournament contest with a one-goal victory over the Falcons (27-10-5) in the first-ever meeting between the two teams, taking an early 3-0 lead in the second period and holding the Falcons scoreless in the third to preserve the win.
Harvard struck first in the East Regional final, as senior Alexander Kerfoot found sophomore Viktor Dombrovskiy who fired off a wrister that found its way into the back of the net at the 10:06 mark of the first period. Senior Lewis Zerter-Gossage was credited with an assist as well as Dombrovskiy put in his fourth score of the season.
The Crimson held the advantage throughout the remainder of the first period, outshooting the Falcons, 14-10. The offense found its rhythm early and junior Merrick Madsen was dialed in with 10 saves in the frame.
The first half of the second period belonged to the Crimson as well, and Harvard extended its lead to 3-0 with two goals just over a minute apart. Sophomore Ryan Donato cut through the Air Force defense before finishing on the left side of the crease for the goal with 12:13 to play in the period, and senior Tyler Moy finished off a series of passes from Kerfoot and freshman Adam Fox for the power play goal at the 11:10 mark of the second.
Air Force, however, regrouped and rattled off two scores of its own within 15 seconds of each other to cut the deficit to one (3-2). The Falcons snuck one past Madsen on a bounce off the back boards that was put in by Brady Tomlak after a delayed penalty call gave them a man-up advantage, before scoring again just 15 seconds into the ensuing power play on the goal from Jordan Himley with 8:23 remaining in the second frame.
The Crimson defense locked down to open the third period, holding Air Force to just one shot over the first nine minutes. The Falcons had a couple chances late, but Madsen and the stingy Crimson defense preserved the one-goal cushion and sent Harvard to its first Frozen Four appearance in 23 years.
Harvard held a slight advantage with a 30-29 shot differential, while Madsen finished with 27 saves in net for the Crimson.