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Road Schedule Begins With No. 10/12 Rensselaer For Men's Hockey Tuesday

Harvard kicks off its road schedule at Rensselaer Tuesday (Photo: Zack Williamson)

Complete Game Notes (.pdf)

Highlights: Harvard's 3-0 Win Over Bentley

The Storyline
After securing a win in its season opener, the Harvard men's hockey team hits the road for its conference opener, taking on No. 10/12 Rensselaer in a midweek matchup. Tuesday's contest against the Engineers is the front half of a home-and-home, which will conclude Friday at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.

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Trending
• In its last game, Harvard took down the Bentley Falcons, 3-0, on the strength of a pair of second-period goals. The victory ups Harvard's all-time record in official season openers to 82-29-3, including a 22-12-1 mark since 1979 (the first season of play in Bright Hockey Center) and a 6-4-0 record under head coach Ted Donato.

• Sophomore Kyle Criscuolo netted a pair of goals in the win over Bentley. It marked his second career two goal game, his first coming at Clarkson Feb. 23, 2013. It is the third straight season that a Harvard player has scored multiple goals in the season opener (2012 - Jimmy Vesey vs. Bentley, 2011 - Alex Killorn '12 vs. Princeton).  

• Senior goalie Raphael Girard posted his third career shutout Saturday, and second straight season-opening clean sheet. Girard has faced Bentley twice in his career, posting shutouts in both contests. His 43 saves marked the fourth-highest single game total in his career.

• Tuesday's contest marks just the second time in program history that Harvard has opened its conference schedule with Rensselaer. The last time Harvard started conference play against the Engineers was Nov. 20, 1979 when RPI notched a decisive 6-2 victory over the Crimson in Cambridge.  

Series History vs. Rensselaer
Tuesday's game marks the 89th meeting between the Crimson and Engineers, with Harvard holding a 47-36-5 lead in the all-time series. The teams first faced each other in 1951, when RPI skated to a 6-2 victory at its own Christmas Tournament. Harvard has a pair of six-game winning streaks in the all-time series, and the teams successfully defended home ice in a split series last season.

Last Season vs. Rensselaer
Harvard and RPI traded shutouts last season, with the Crimson taking the first game of the season series, 4-0, at Bright Hockey Center. Jimmy Vesey scored a pair of goals in the win over the Engineers, while classmate Brian Hart and then-senior Marshall Everson '13 also tallied scores for Harvard. Raphael Girard needed just 24 saves to record the second shutout of his career.

The Engineers retorted in Troy, N.Y., Feb. 1, as Mark Miller scored in the first period and again in the third to secure a 3-0 win. Goalie Jason Kasdorf stopped just 11 shots in the clean sheet showing.  

Quick Impact
Freshman forwards Alexander Kerfoot and Sean Malone each logged their first collegiate points on assists against Bentley Saturday. Malone fed Tommy O'Regan on the game's first goal and Kerfoot provided the pass that Kyle Criscuolo put home for his second strike of the games.

Fresh On The Dot
The freshman class accounted for 82% of the faceoffs taken in the game against the Falcons. Luke Esposito won seven of his 13 faceoffs, while Alexander Kerfoot led all players with 15 faceoff wins.  

About RPI
Coming in at No. 12 in both national polls, Rensselaer is gaining attention as a serious contender for an NCAA Tournament spot. RPI enters the matchup with the Crimson riding a three-game win streak, including victories over Hockey East powers No. 13/14 Boston University and No. 14/13 New Hampshire. In its last contest,  The Engineers bolted out to a 4-0 lead against UNH at Houston Field House, and a pair of late goals from the Wildcats wasn't enough to overcome the home team in a 4-2 final.

Scouting The Engineers
Junior forward Ryan Haggerty has been on fire for the Engineers this season, scoring eight goals through five games and leading the team in goals and points. He picked up ECAC Player of the Week honors this past week, thanks to a two-goal showing against the Terriers and his forst career hat trick against Sacred Heart. Senior forwards Matt Tinordi (3-3-6) and Brock Higgs (2-4-6) are next in line on the points chart and junior Curtis Leonard leads all defensemen with 0-3-3 points. Junior forward Jacob Laliberte leads all RPI skaters with five assists this year.

Rensselaer has utilized two goalies this season, giving nods to junior Scott Diebold and sophomore Jason Kasdorf. Diebold is unbeaten on the year with a 3-0-0 mark, and boasts a 1.52 goals-against  average and .944 save percentage. Kasdorf owns the lone shutout of the season for RPI.  

Time At Home
After enduring a lengthy road swing last season that stretched for seven games, the Crimson's longest span away from Bright-Landry Hockey Center in 2013-14 will be four games. Harvard plays at New Hampshire Nov. 26 and at Dartmouth Nov. 30 before a road weekend at Brown and Yale Dec. 6-7.

Welcome Freshmen
The Crimson carries nine freshmen on the men's hockey roster for the 2013-14 season. The freshman class hails from eight different states and provinces, and boasts two players drafted the NHL Entry Draft.

Sean Malone was selected in the sixth round (No. 159 overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft while classmate Alexander Kerfoot was taken in the fifth round (No. 150 overall) by the New Jersey Devils a year earlier. Clay Anderson, Kevin Guiltinan and Victor Newell look to bolster the Harvard blue line, while Luke Esposito, Tyler Moy, Devin Tringale and Phil Zielonka will add depth up front for Harvard.

More New Faces
The men's hockey staff has a bit of a new look to it for the 2013-14 season as well. Rob Rassey joins the program as an assistant coach after spending the past two seasons with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. Rassey was a four-year letterman at nearby Northeastern from 2005-09, and served as a volunteer assistant for the Huskies immediately upon graduation. Also joining the team is Brendan Flemming, Harvard hockey's newest Director of Hockey Operations. Flemming will be working with both the men's and women's teams and comes to Cambridge from Division III Babson, where he was an assistant coach for the past two seasons.

A Look Back
The 2012-13 campaign was not without its highlights, as the Crimson showed a penchant for strong performances in big games. A 4-1 victory over then-No. 10 Cornell in front of a national television audience got Harvard off to a strong start in its first road contest, after winning three of its first five games at home.

The NBC Sports Network audience was treated to another gem Jan. 9 when Harvard bested then-No. 9 Boston University, 6-5, in overtime on its home ice. A second win over a nationally-ranked B.U. team came in the Beanpot consolation game Feb. 11, and in its final weekend of regular-season play, Harvard upended the No. 1 team in the nation in Quinnipiac, 2-1 in overtime.

The roller-coaster season came to an end in Hanover, N.H., where Dartmouth took a 2-1 series win in the first round of the ECAC Championship, despite Harvard earning a 2-1 win in game one of the series.

Who's Returning?
The Crimson welcomes back five of its top eight scorers from last season, including three sophomores and two juniors. Sophomores Jimmy Vesey and Brian Hart tied for third on the team with 18 points apiece last season, while junior Tommy O'Regan was close behind with 15. Colin Blackwell (14 points) and Kyle Criscuolo (13) round out the top eight scorers from last season.

The Vesey File
Sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey had plenty of buzz heading into the 2013-14 campaign. The 2012-13 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Vesey tied for the team lead with 12 goals in his freshman campaign and received three ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week honors and a Rookie of the Month honor in his first season with the Crimson. He also competed for team USA in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia and helped the U.S. squad capture gold, working his way up to the first line by the end of the tournament.

NHL Caliber
Harvard boasts nine players on its 2013-14 roster that were selected in the NHL Entry Draft:

• Colin Blackwell (2011, San Jose, 7th rd.)
Max Everson (2011, Toronto, 7th rd.)
• Brian Hart (2012, Tampa Bay, 2nd rd.)
• Alexander Kerfoot (2012, New Jersey, 5th rd.)
• Sean Malone (2013, Buffalo, 6th rd.)
• Pat McNally (2010, Vancouver, 4th rd.)
Steve Michalek (2011, Minnesota, 6th rd.)
Petr Placek (2011, Philadelphia, 6th rd.)
• Jimmy Vesey (2012, Nashville, 3rd rd.)

Where It Ranks
The nine drafted players on the Harvard roster is the most of any team in the ECAC. Cornell is the next closest conference team with seven drafted players, followed by Quinnipiac and Yale, both with five. Here's how Harvard's roster stacks up nationally:

NHL Draft Picks By Team:
1. North Dakota    15
2. Minnesota    14
3. Michigan    12
4. Boston College    11
    Notre Dame    11
6. Harvard      9
    Wisconsin      9
8. Boston University      8

Last To Go
For the third straight season, Harvard is the last team in the nation to begin its season. The six Ivy League schools all played their first games Oct. 25-26 to league schedule restrictions. The other five Ivy schools were in action Oct. 25.

Rock-tober
Since the 1979-80 season, the men's hockey team has played just eight regular-season games in the month of October. Harvard is 6-1-1 in the month of October, with its only loss coming at Dartmouth, 5-2, to start the 2006-07 campaign. The Crimson has won its last four October contests, including Saturday's 3-0 blanking of Bentley in the season opener.