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Men's Hockey Opens Home ECAC Slate With No. 10 Rensselaer, Union

Kyle Criscuolo enters the weekend as Harvard's points leader on the season (Gil Talbot).

Complete Game Notes (.pdf)

Highlights: Harvard Comes Back to Tie No. 10 Rensselaer

The Storyline

The Harvard men's hockey team opens up its ECAC Hockey home schedule this weekend, as it welcomes No. 10 Rensselaer and Union to The Bright-Landry Hockey Center. The Crimson will complete a home-and-home series with the Engineers Friday before wrapping up the weekend with the Dutchmen Saturday.   

Trending
• Harvard is coming off a comeback tie against Rensselaer Tuesday night, netting the final three goals of the game to force overtime and the eventual 3-3 draw with the Engineers.  

• Four Harvard players have logged a point in both games this season: Kyle Criscuolo (2g, 1a), Alexander Kerfoot (1g, 1a), Sean Malone (2a) and Tommy O'Regan (1g, 1a).   

• The draw against the Engineers Tuesday marked the fifth straight season that Harvard has earned at least a point in its conference road opener. The Crimson is 4-0-1 in its last five such contests.  

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

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New Look, New Name
The 2013-14 Harvard men's and women's hockey teams will be playing home games at the re-named Bright-Landry Hockey Center, thanks to a generous gift from C. Kevin Landry '66. The facility will be getting a major upgrade during the 2013-14 season, and construction will be completed prior to the 2014-15 season. A new 20,000 square foot addition will be located between the current hockey facility and the Albert H. Gordon Track. Upgraded spectator amenities will include new concession, souvenir and hospitality areas plus additional family friendly restrooms. Enhancements to the Hockey Center will include new team locker rooms for the men's and women's ice hockey programs, sports medicine and workout facilities, coach's offices and a facility operations center.

Series History vs. Rensselaer
Friday's game marks the 90th meeting between the Crimson and Engineers, with Harvard holding a 47-36-6 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.

Oct. 29, 2013 in Troy, N.Y.
In just its second game of the season, Harvard rallied back from an early three-goal deficit to tie the No. 10 Engineers, 3-3, Tuesday at Houston Field House. With RPI holding its annual "Black Tuesday" promotion, the Engineers rode a raucous crowd to three first-period goals, putting the Crimson in an early hole. Rookie Alexander Kerfoot got the Crimson on the board with 7:07 gone in the second, tipping home a pass from Jimmy Vesey for his first collegiate goal. Early in the third, Greg Gozzo finished a Sean Malone assist and Brian Hart completed the comeback when he shoved home a Kevin Guiltinan feed with 9:12 to play in the game. Goalie Steve Michalek rallied after some early jitters, finishing the game with 22 stops and making some big saves late in the third period.

About RPI
Coming in at No. 10 in both national polls, Rensselaer is gaining attention as a serious contender for an NCAA Tournament spot. RPI entered the Tuesday 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. Prior to its 3-3 tie with the Crimson, 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 nine goals through six 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 first career hat trick against Sacred Heart. Senior forwards Brock Higgs (3-5-8) and Matt Tinordi (3-4-7) are next in line on the points chart and Curtis Leonard, Chris Bradley and Luke Curadi lead the defensemen with 0-3-3 points each. Junior forward Jacob Laliberte leads all RPI skaters with six assists this year.

Rensselaer has utilized two goalies so far this season, giving nods to junior Scott Diebold and sophomore Jason Kasdorf. Diebold is unbeaten on the year with a 3-0-1 mark, and boasts a 1.83 goals-against  average and .934 save percentage. Kasdorf owns the lone shutout of the season for RPI.  

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.  

Series History vs. Union
In one of the younger series against ECAC opponents, Harvard holds a solid 30-11-4 record in 45 career matchups with Union. The teams' first meeting came Nov. 15, 1991 at Messa Rink and Harvard poured in seven scores in a 7-5 win. Harvard was unbeaten in the first seven games of the series, and held an eight-game win streak from 2002-05. The tide has turned recently in the series, as Union is unbeaten in the last seven meetings and has claimed six victories over the Crimson in that seven-game span.  

About The Dutchmen
Picked to finish fourth in the ECAC preseason poll, the Dutchmen have had a tough run through their first five games of the season. Hosting Bowling Green in a two-game series to open the year, Union managed a tie and a win, before dropping a pair of one-goal contests to Lake Superior State the following weekend. In its first road game of the season, Union skated to a 2-2 tie at Connecticut. The Dutchmen will face off against Harvard's travel partner Dartmouth Friday before heading to Cambridge Saturday.   

Scouting Union
Senior forward Kevin Sullivan has had the helping hand for Union through five games, tallying a team-high nine assists, good for the team lead in points as well. Rookie Michael Pontarelli has made an immediate impact, leading the team with four goals, all on the power play, and adding three assists. One of the strongest defenders in the league, Mat Bodie leads all Union blueliners with 0-5-5 points on the year, despite a team-high eight penalty minutes. As a team, Union boasts the sixth-best power play in the nation, converting at a 29% rate (9 of 31).   

Freshman Alex Sakellaropoulos has taken control of the Union goaltending duties, logging 278 minutes and four starts in his rookie campaign. He holds a 3.46 goals-against average and .845 save percentage through five contests.   

Last Season vs. The Dutchmen
It was a tough year for the Crimson against the Dutchmen in 2012-13, as Union posted decisive wins in Cambridge and Schenectady. After a pair of first-period scores from Union in the series opener, Jimmy Vesey cut the lead to one with a second-period strike. Four more goals allowed the guests to pull away, however, and a Patrick McNally score with 1:19 to go proved to be too little too late in the 6-2 loss.

It was more of the same at Messa Rink later that winter, as Union once against bolted out to a 2-0 lead and Vesey struck to pull within one at 2-1. Two third-period goals, including an empty-net tally, sealed the 4-1 win for the hosts.
 
Young Guns
The freshman class has made a significant impact for Harvard through just two games this season. Rookie forwards Alexander Kerfoot (1-1-2) and Sean Malone (0-2-2) have two points each, while defenseman Kevin Guiltinan (0-2-2) picked up two helpers in the tie at RPI.

All but one of Harvard's goals and assists this season have come from underclassmen, as junior Tommy O'Regan netted the game-winning strike against Bentley Oct. 26.  

Quite The Comeback
While Harvard wasn't able to snag a victory Tuesday at RPI, the comeback from three goals down to tie was certainly noteworthy. The last time Harvard rallied from a three-goal deficit for a tie or win was last season against Boston University Jan. 9. The Terriers actually held two separate three-goals leads during the game, but a late flurry saw the Crimson secure a 6-5 overtime victory.  

Fresh On The Dot
The freshman class has accounted for 84% of the faceoffs taken through two games this season. Alexander Kerfoot leads all Harvard players with 23 faceoff wins.  

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.