CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The puck drops on the 112th season of Harvard men's hockey as the Crimson faces Ivy League rival Princeton Friday night at Bright Hockey Center and another ECAC Hockey foe, No. 19 Quinnipiac, Saturday night. Both games start at 7 p.m.
This Week in Harvard Hockey
Ted Donato '91, the Robert D. Ziff Head Coach for Harvard Men's Ice Hockey, shares his thoughts on the upcoming season with Bernie Corbett.
This Weekend at Bright
Friday night is Faculty/Staff Day, with Harvard employees gaining free admission. The game is also a Student Rewards contest and will feature Chuck-a-Puck from the Harvard University Employees Credit Union and free schedule magnets.
Saturday is a Coke Family Four Pack night, so fans purchasing tickets online can get four seats for $40 and four free Cokes.
• Harvard looks to pick up where it left off after a strong finish to 2010-11. The Crimson reeled off a six-game win streak and came within an overtime goal of reaching the ECAC Hockey semifinals.
• The Crimson welcomes back 18 letterwinners, including seven of its top nine scorers and five defensemen who skated in more than 25 games. Five of the nine new freshmen have been drafted by National Hockey League teams, tying the Crimson for the most incoming draft picks in the nation.
• Former Crimson captain, NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player and NHL veteran Ted Donato begins his eighth season behind the Crimson bench. Defenseman Ryan Grimshaw (Rochester, N.Y.) captains the Crimson, assisted by forwards Alex Killorn (Montreal, Que.) and Daniel Moriarty (Bienfait, Sask.).
• All-league defenseman Danny Biega (Montreal, Que.) led the Crimson with 30 points and 19 assists last season and paced ECAC defensemen with 21 points and nine goals in league play. Killorn netted a team-high 15 goals, and Harvard returns 73 percent of its 2010-11 goal-scoring.
Follow From Home
Live, pay-per-view video and free live statistics from all home games will be on GoCrimson.com. WHRB-FM 95.3 and WHRB.org offer live audio with Brendan Roche and Raafi Alidina on the call.
Last Time Out
Harvard made its 2011-12 competitive debut with a 7-4 win against Western Ontario Oct. 21. Despite just a week of formal practices, the Crimson offense looked to be in midseason form, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and scoring four power‑play goals. Conor Morrison (London, Ont.) led the way with two goals and two assists. Luke Greiner (Faribault, Monn.) and Alex Killorn also scored twice each. Killorn added an assist, while Alex Fallstrom (Stockholm, Sweden) and rookies Patrick McNally (Glen Head, N.Y.) and Tommy O'Regan (Needham, Mass.) notched two helpers apiece.
The Crimson is 80-28-3 all-time in official season openers, including a team-record 18 straight opening wins from 1922-39, and 20‑11‑1 in home openers since the opening of Bright Hockey Center in 1979. This is the first time Harvard and Princeton have faced off in an opener since a 7-5 Crimson win Jan. 1, 1946.
Last Year's Opener
Union defenseman Greg Coburn scored a power‑play goal to break a third-period tie and lift the No. 15 Dutchmen to a 2-1 win against the Crimson Nov. 5, 2010. Danny Biega scored earlier in the third period, and Kyle Richter '10-11 made 33 saves.
Let's Get It Started
Due to Ivy League schedule restrictions and no games last weekend, Harvard is the last of the 58 NCAA Division I men's hockey teams to begin the 2011-12 season.
Princeton enters its game against a Harvard team making its season debut having already played three games. Quinnipiac will play its 11th game against the Crimson.
A Tradition of Excellence
Harvard has amassed 21 NCAA tournament appearances, 21 Ivy League championships, 13 ECAC regular-season titles, 12 Frozen Four berths, 10 Beanpots, eight ECAC tournament crowns and an NCAA championship in 1989. Harvard's hockey history features 24 Olympians and 36 All-America picks.
Three Harvard players have earned the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in college hockey. Only Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth have captured more Hobey trophies, with four each. Harvard owns an all-time record of 1,301‑843-113.
A Strong Finish
The Crimson looks to pick up where it left off after playing its best hockey at the end of last season. Harvard won six straight games, including a road sweep of Clarkson in the first round of the playoffs and a defeat of Dartmouth in Game 1 of the teams' quarterfinal series. That win against the Big Green completed a run of eight wins and a tie in a 10-game span for the Crimson. Dartmouth won the last two games of the series by a goal each, with Game 2 reaching overtime.
A Strong Finish, by the Numbers
ECAC Hockey's best records in February:
Union, 7-0-1 (.938); Yale, 6-1-1 (.813); Harvard, 5-3-1 (.611).
ECAC's best records from Feb. 1 to season's end:
Yale, 11-3-1 (.767); Union, 8-3-1 (.708); Harvard, 8-5-1 (.607).
ECAC's best records in team's last month of season:
Yale, 6-2-0 (.750); Harvard, 8-3-0 (.727); Colgate, 5-5-1 (.500); Cornell, 5-5-1 (.500).
Thanks to new compressors installed in summer 2010, the 2011 summer was the first in which the Bright Hockey Center ice was available for members of the Crimson to use during the summer. The team took advantage, as most players were able to spend time skating together in the summer. The entire squad was able to take part in captains' practices together as soon as they arrived on campus for classes, rather than waiting until mid-September.
New Faces Behind the Bench
Albie O'Connell comes to Cambridge following a three-year stint at nearby Northeastern. He also previously coached at Merrimack, Holy Cross, Niagara and Colby. O'Connell played at Boston University, where he won four Beanpots and a Hockey East Championship and advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four twice.
Jerry Forton served as an assistant coach at UMass Lowell for two seasons following 13 years at Niagara. He coached or recruited five players to the River Hawks and seven to the Purple Eagles who were drafted or signed NHL free-agent contracts.
The players who scored 56 of Harvard's 77 goals last year are back in Cambridge this season. In addition to top goal-scorer Alex Killorn, a number of other returning forwards were key factors in Harvard's late‑season surge, including Conor Morrison, who totaled 19 points in 2009‑10, and Alex Fallstrom, who tied for second in ECAC Hockey with four playoff goals.
Danny Biega was named to the ECAC Hockey Preseason All-League teams by the conference's coaches and covering media members. The coaches picked Harvard to finish seventh, while the media selected the Crimson 12th.
Danny Biega earned selection to the All-Ivy League first team, ECAC Hockey second team and New England All-Star team last season. Alex Killorn was a second-team All-Ivy pick.
Harvard's nine-player freshman class has been ranked among the nation's best and is arguably its deepest. Red Line Report ranked the class as NCAA Division I's fourth-best, while Inside College Hockey ranked the class 12th nationally.
INCH named four incoming players among the best at their positions: Steve Michalek (Glastonbury, Conn.), second among goaltenders; defensemen Patrick McNally, 14th, and Max Everson (Edina, Minn.), 17th among defensemen, and Petr Placek (Rakovnik, Czech Republic), 20th among forwards.
Next Stop ... the Next Level
The five NHL draftees in Harvard's freshman class match Minnesota and North Dakota for the nation's most. Patrick McNally was a fourth‑round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2010. Four other Crimson rookies were chosen in 2011: Steve Michalek (Minnesota Wild, sixth round), Petr Placek (Philadelphia Flyers, sixth), Colin Blackwell (North Andover, Mass.) (San Jose Sharks, seventh) and Max Everson (Toronto Maple Leafs, seventh).
NHL Draft Picks by NCAA Team, Top 10
1. Minnesota 17
2. North Dakota 14
3. Boston University 12
4. Michigan 11
5. Notre Dame 10
6. Boston College 9
9. Harvard 8
Series History: Harvard vs. Princeton
Only Yale has faced off against Harvard more than Princeton. Starting with a 6-3 win March 1, 1902 in New York City, Harvard holds a 146‑55‑11 series edge and is 9‑6‑2 against the Tigers under Ted Donato. Harvard has swept two league playoff series from the Tigers—including in 2010 at Baker Rink—but Princeton scored a 4-1 win against Harvard in the 2008 ECAC final.
Last Season: Harvard vs. Princeton
The teams played two close games last season. Princeton's Mike Condon made 36 saves in a 1-0 Nov. 19 win at Baker Rink and Alex Killorn registered three points as Harvard rallied three times for a 4-4 tie Feb. 11.
Scouting the Tigers
Princeton's first season under new coach Bob Prier got off to a promising start with a 2-2, non-league tie against No. 10 Yale. The Tigers have since lost to Brown, 3-2, in their Ivy Shootout finale and Quinnipiac, 5-2, in their conference opener.
Defenseman Michael Sdao paces Princeton with two goals and is one of five players sharing the team lead with two points each. Sean Bonar has started two of the Tigers' three games, while Mike Condon started the other. Bonar owns a 2.92 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. Andrew Calof led the Tigers with 33 points and 24 assists last year.
Series History: Harvard vs. Quinnipiac
The Crimson is 7-6-2 against Quinnipiac in a series that dates back to a 5-2 Bobcats win in their first ECAC game in 2005. Harvard won a home ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series between the teams in 2008 and is 7-2 against the Bobcats at Bright. Quinnipiac is 4-0-2 in its series home games, including a 2-2 tie in the inaugural ECAC Hockey game at TD Bank Sports Center in 2007.
Last Season: Harvard vs. Quinnipiac
Playing in his hometown, Rence Coassin (Hamden, Conn.) had a goal and an assist to lead Harvard back from a 4-1 deficit, but Quinnipiac held off a late Crimson flurry to win at home, 5-4, after Ben Arnt broke the tie in the third period. In the rematch at Bright, Eric Hartzell made 34 saves to overcome a 35‑20 edge in shots for Harvard, leading the Bobcats to a 3-1 win.
Scouting the Bobcats
Qunnipiac got goals from five different scorers in Tuesday's 5-2 win at Princeton to open league play. Jeremy Langlois enters Friday's game at Dartmouth with the nation's second-highest goal total at eight and a team-high 14 points. He was voted October's ECAC Hockey/Fischer Hockey Player of the Month, while teammate Matthew Peca (three goals, six assists) was the Rookie of the Month. Dan Clarke had a 1.50 goals-against average, .928 save percentage in five starts while sharing time with Eric Hartzell.
The Bright Stuff
Harvard is 61-35-4 (.630) at home under Ted Donato and 283-128-29 (.676) all-time at Bright Hockey Center, which opened in 1979-80.