Crimson Men's Hockey Closes Road Swing at No. 14 Union, RPI
The Harvard men's hockey team plays its first league weekend series since mid-November as it visits No. 14 Union and Rensselaer to open the New Year. The Crimson and Dutchmen face off Friday in Schenectady, N.Y., and Harvard faces the Engineers Saturday in Troy, N.Y.
Follow From Home
Live video for each game is available for a fee at the links above, and both home teams will provide free live statistics. Brendan Roche and Raafi Alidina will call the action for WHRB-FM 95.3 and WHRB.org.
• Harvard (4-4-4, 3-3-2 ECAC Hockey) has lost just once in its last six games (2-1-3).
• The Crimson owns the top power play in the nation at 32.2 percent (19 for 59). Harvard has scored at least one power-play goal in each of its 12 games and multiple power-play goals in six games. In the last five games, Harvard is 9 for 20 with the man advantage.
• Harvard ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense at 3.5 goals per game.
• Alex Killorn (Montreal, Que.) leads Harvard with 16 points and eight goals. He is tied for 11th nationally with 1.33 points per game and 10th with 0.67 goals per game.
• Harvard boasts two of the three highest-scoring defensemen in the nation. Danny Biega (Montreal, Que.) ranks second nationally in defenseman scoring at 1.25 points per game (3-12-15) and is tied for fourth in assists per game with one per contest. Patrick McNally (Glen Head, N.Y.) ranks third among defensemen with 1.17 points per game (4‑10‑14) and is the highest-scoring freshman at any position.
• The Crimson's last weekend of ECAC Hockey was a split at Clarkson and St. Lawrence Nov. 18-19.
Alex Killorn scored a goal and assisted on two others, including the tying tally by Marshall Everson (Edina, Minn.), as Harvard rallied from a two‑goal, third-period deficit to tie No. 18 North Dakota, 4-4, Friday night. Steve Michalek (Glastonbury, Conn.) made 33 saves, four in overtime. Patrick McNally and Alex Fallstrom (Stockholm, Sweden) also scored for the Crimson, while Killorn went 17-4 at the faceoff dot.
A night later, UND took control with four straight goals in the first period and ended the Crimson's five-game unbeaten streak, 7-3. Alex Killorn, Eric Kroshus (Calgary, Alta.) and Luke Greiner (Faribault, Minn.) scored for the Crimson, which held a 32-25 shots advantage.
Shutting the Door
Harvard held North Dakota to a total of seven third-period shots over two games, five in Friday's tie and two in Saturday's loss. The Crimson has outscored its opponents, 15-9, in third periods, holding four teams scoreless in the final period and surrendering more than one goal just once.
Dating back to last season, Harvard has scored at least one power‑play goal in 16 straight games and has netted 25 man‑advantage goals in its last 14 ECAC games.
Harvard has trailed 18 times this season and has come back to tie the score 14 times. The Crimson trailed twice each in its win against No. 18 Colgate and its ties against No. 19 Quinnipiac, Dartmouth and No. 18 North Dakota. Harvard scored seven goals over the final two periods to come back from a four‑goal deficit and defeat New Hampshire, 7-6, Nov. 22 and erased four separate one-goal deficits in a 4-4 tie at Massachusetts Dec. 2.
Harvard is playing the sixth and seventh of seven straight road games and eight straight away from Bright Hockey Center. The Crimson returns to Boston to host Union Jan. 13 at Fenway Park and comes back to Bright a night later to take on Boston University.
Up for a Challenge
Friday's game at Union will be Harvard's third straight against a nationally ranked team. The Crimson is in a stretch of eight currently ranked opponents in nine games. Harvard plays the No. 14 Dutchmen again Jan. 13, followed by No. 10 BU, No. 9 Colgate, No. 13 Cornell and No. 20 Yale. Harvard is 1-1-2 against ranked competition. Dating back to 2010-11, the Crimson is 3-3-3 against its last nine ranked foes.
Harvard has received votes in nine of the 13 weeks of the U.S. College Hockey Online poll.
Harvard is on pace for its highest-scoring season since 2002-03, when the Crimson averaged 3.91 goals per game and ranked sixth nationally in scoring offense. The Crimson's offensive success this season comes after finishing 2010-11 ranked 54th nationally with 2.26 goals per game.
Outside the Box
Harvard has allowed its opponents only 45 power plays this season, the nation's lowest total and an average of just 3.75 per game. That is nine fewer than Yale, which has surrendered the nation's second-fewest power plays at 54. Only nine other teams have allowed their opponents fewer than 75 power plays.
Before Saturday's game, none of Harvard's games had been decided by more than two goals. Eight of the 12 games, including seven of the last eight, have been tied in the third period. At a point in every third period but one, the score has been tied or the teams have been separated by one goal.
Alex Killorn has logged points in each of the last seven games, totaling five goals and six assists in that span. Patrick McNally has two goals and six assists in his four-game point streak and has notched points in eight of the last nine outings. Danny Biega's streak of five straight two-point games was snapped Friday at UND, but his assist Saturday was his 11th point in seven games.
Reunited, and It Feels So Good
Linemates Marshall Everson, Alex Killorn and Alex Fallstrom led the Crimson's late charge last season. They have been back together for the last six games, helping Harvard go 2-1-3 by combining for for 12 goals and 10 assists in that span. For the season, the trio has totaled 17 goals and 18 assists in 34 individual games played.
The Crimson put a season-high 44 shots on goal at UMass, including a combined 27 from the line of Marshall Everson, Alex Killorn and Alex Fallstrom. Killorn logged 11 shots, while Everson had nine and Fallstrom added seven. Harvard has allowed fewer than 27 total shots to four of its 12 opponents. Killorn has notched 60 shots this season, an average of five per game.
Defensemen have scored or assisted on 34 of the Crimson's last 37 tallies. Harvard's defensemen totaled six assists at UMass, two goals and three assists at Princeton Dec. 10 and a goal and six helpers in two games at North Dakota.
Last Season: Harvard vs. Union
The Dutchmen recorded their first season sweep of Harvard by winning a pair of thrilling, 2-1 games last season. In the season opener at Bright Hockey Center, Danny Biega tied the game in the third period, but Greg Coburn netted the winner for No. 15 Union in the final seven minutes.
The Jan. 22 rematch at Messa Rink was even more dramatic. Mat Bodie broke a 1-1 tie with his goal at 17:43 of the third period.
Series History: Harvard vs. Union
Harvard holds a 30-7-3 all-time edge against Union and has lost just four times in the last 20 meetings. Ted Donato '91 is 9-4-1 against the Dutchmen, and the Crimson is 14-4-2 in Schenectady, N.Y.
Scouting the Dutchmen
Then-No. 10 Union took a six-game unbeaten streak into its weekend trip to Colorado but suffered close losses to No. 15 Denver, 3-1, and No. 6 Colorado College, 2-1. The Dutchmen (9-5-5, 3-2-2) are one of just two teams in the nation allowing fewer than two goals per game.
Troy Grosenick, in his first season as a starter, owns a .933 save percentage and 1.71 goals‑against average. On the offensive end, Kelly Zajac leads the team with 19 points and 15 assists, while Jeremy Welsh has 18 points and a team‑high 13 goals.
Last Season: Harvard vs. Rensselaer
As with Union, Harvard and Rensselaer played a pair of one-goal games last season. Alex Killorn scored with just 8.2 seconds left to lift the Crimson to a 1-0 win early in the season. Later, at Houston Field House, the Engineers hung on for a 3-2 win despite being outshot by an 18-3 margin in the final period and a 38-16 count for the game.
Series History: Harvard vs. Rensselaer
Harvard owns a 46-35-3 lead in the all-time series, which began with a RPI home win in 1951. Ted Donato is 8-5-1 against the Engineers. The Crimson and Engineers have combined for three national titles and have met twice to determine the ECAC champion, a 3-1 RPI win in 1985 and a 3-0 Harvard victory in 1994.
Scouting the Engineers
Rensselaer (3-15-0, 1-6-0), which tied for fourth place in ECAC Hockey last season, has struggled to get on track in 2011-12. The Engineers have lost five straight games since a 2-0 win at RIT Nov. 25. They also own a 1-0 league victory against Brown.
Bryce Merriam has posted a .903 save percentage and 2.68 goals-against average so far. Nick Bailen (3-6-9) and Brock Higgs (1-8-9) share the team scoring lead, while Ryan Haggerty paces RPI with four goals. Haggerty is one of three freshmen among the team's top six scorers.