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Harvard pulls away from men's hockey in crushing 4-1 victory

It was the kind of thing featured on one of those inspirational posters. Senior defender Darren Yopyk had just scored a goal for the men's hockey team, piercing a crowd of players in front of Harvard goalkeeper J.R. Prestifilippo for the first goal of the game.

Yopyk took a knee and pumped his fist as he slid away from the clutter in front of the net. Flashes flickered as cameras caught him alone in his moment of glory: a senior living up one of his final home games.


He was Success. He was Victory. And he was leading his team down these paths.

Less than two periods later Yopyk could have been featured on one of those other motivational posters. The "that which does not kill me makes me stronger" kind.

After a hard hit on the boards, the senior captain went down in almost the exact same place on the ice where he had previously been celebrating. A trainer rushed onto the ice as Yopyk writhed in pain with what could turn out to be a lower leg fracture.

He was Agony. He was Despair. And he may not play any more games in Baker Rink.

Still following in Yopyk's footsteps, the Tigers (9-13-3 overall, 7-8-3 Eastern College Athletic Conference) faltered in the third period and eventually fell to Harvard (9-14-2, 7-9-2) last night, 4-1.

When Yopyk went down, Princeton was barely holding on to hopes of pulling out a win. Down, 2-1, the Tigers were one good shot away from pulling even.


With four minutes, 19 seconds to go in the game, Crimson right wing Chris Bala essentially put the game out of reach. Off a pass from center Steve Moore, Bala sped to a breakaway and put a shot on net. Sophomore goalie Dave Stathos fell to his side to stop the initial shot, but in the confusion in front of the net the puck snuck underneath him and into the goal for the 3-1 lead.

The key play of the game came in the closing seconds of the first period, when Moore knotted the two teams at one goal apiece with eight seconds remaining.

The goal could have been a wakeup call for the Tigers; instead Harvard siezed the momentum.

"They responded to the goal and we didn't," head coach Don Cahoon said.

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Princeton responded with a lackluster second period, a stanza in which it only managed one shot on goal.

"I didn't feel that we competed in the second," Cahoon said. "I told the kids they looked disinterested."

The Tigers never got back on track, as the Crimson netted the final four goals of the game.

The loss drops Princeton into a tie for fifth place in the ECAC with Dartmouth and Clarkson and brings Harvard with one game of the trio. The Crimson also leapfrogged the Tigers in the race for the Ivy League championship, a race Princeton was winning until last night.