Road Tests For Men's Hockey in No. 6/5 Quinnipiac, Princeton
Harvard vs. Quinnipiac/Princeton
Men's Hockey is in search of its first road victory this weekend at Quinnipiac and Princeton (Gil Talbot).
Photos: Men's Hockey Teams With Special Olympics of Massachusetts
Highlights: Men's Hockey vs. St. Lawrence
Highlights: Men's Hockey vs. Clarkson
Harvard hits the road for its second conference road trip of the season, taking on No. 6/5 Quinnipiac Friday and Ivy League foe Princeton Saturday. It marks the third weekend in a row that Harvard will face a ranked opponent, while the matchup with Princeton represents Harvard's first Ivy action of the season.
• The Crimson has played just one other road game heading into this weekend, coming back to tie then-No. 10/10 Rensselaer, 3-3, Oct. 29 at Houston Field House.
• While Harvard's series against Quinnipiac is one of the youngest for the Crimson (beginning in 2005), the series against Princeton is the second-most contested in Harvard annals with 216 career meetings.
• Despite conceding his first goals of the season in a 3-1 loss to St. Lawrence, Senior goalie Raphael Girard still leads the nation in both save percentage (.970) and goals-against average (1.01). His two shutouts also rank tied for first in the country.
• Harvard has faced three ranked teams already this season, posting a 1-1-1 mark in such games. The Crimson tied and topped No. 10 Rensselaer Oct. 29 and Nov. 1, respectively, and dropped a narrow, 2-1 decision to No. 16/15 Clarkson in its last time out.
• Friday's matchup against No. 6/5 Quinnipiac will be the first since Harvard edged the Bobcats, 2-1 in overtime, last March when Quinnipiac was ranked No. 1 in the nation. It was the first time Harvard had defeated the nation's top-ranked team since 2004.
• Sophomore Jimmy Vesey has scored a goal in each of Harvard's last two contests.
Series History vs. Quinnipiac
Friday's game will be just the 20th meeting between the two teams, with Harvard holding a slight 9-7-3 edge in the all-time series. The Bobcats kicked off the series with a 5-2 win at the Hartford Civic Center, Nov. 4, 2005, but Harvard was unbeaten in the next five matchups, posting a 3-0-2 mark. There has only been one shutout in the previous 19 meetings, an 11-0 pounding by Harvard in the first of a three-game ECAC Hockey Tournament series March 14, 2008.
About The Bobcats
One of the hottest teams in the nation, Quinnipiac comes in as the highest-ranked squad in ECAC Hockey at No. 6 in the USCHO.com poll and No. 5 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. The lone loss in Quinnipiac's 9-1-1 record came in the first game of the season, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Alaska Anchorage. Since then, the Bobcats have posted an unblemished record, including a pair of wins over UMass Lowell, a 3-0 shutout of Brown and a 3-3 tie in a rematch of the 2013 national championship game with Yale in its last game. The 10-game unbeaten streak is the nation's longest current streak.
Rookie Sam Anas has stepped in seamlessly with an experienced Quinnipiac lineup, leading the team in points (15) and goals (eight). Senior forward Kellen Jones has had the helping hand this season, posting 10 assists in 11 games, good for the team lead and 14 total points. Jones also has a pair of short-handed goals on the season, which ties him for first in the nation in that statistic. Freshman Derek Smith has emerged as an offensive force on the blue line, leading all defensemen with 2-4-6 points. The Bobcats also boast the nation's top scoring defense, allowing an average of 1.55 goals per game through 11 contests.
Sophomore Michael Garteig has played every minute in goal this season for Quinnipiac, posting an impressive 1.54 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
Last Season vs. The Bobcats
Harvard's signature win came against the Bobcats last season, but the teams split the season series, as each squad successfully defended home ice.
Two goals within the first 10 minutes jolted Quinnipiac out to a 2-0 lead in the teams' first meeting in Hamden, but Luke Greiner '13 was able to cut the lead to one with a first-period marker. It was all Bobcats in the second, as the hosts tallied three more goals, and an Alex Fallstrom '13 power play tally put the score at 5-2 after two. Quinnipiac's sixth different goal-scorer struck with six seconds to play in the game to seal the 6-2 final.
Retaliation was sweet for the Crimson two months later in Cambridge, as the Bobcats came to Bright Hockey Center as the No. 1 team in the nation. After a scoreless first, Ben Arnt gave Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead after two, but Kyle Criscuolo converted a Marshall Everson '13 feed 5:38 into the third to force the game into overtime. A well-earned tie looked likely for Harvard, but with 18 seconds to play in the extra frame, Jimmy Vesey slid a pass down low to Fallstrom, who tipped it home for the game-winning score.
Series History vs. Princeton
In Harvard's second-most contested series, the Crimson holds a commanding 147-58-11 edge in 216 career meetings. The first game of the series was played in 1902 in New York City, where Harvard skated to a 6-3 victory. Recently, the matchups have been closely contested with nine of the past 11 meetings being either one-goal games or ties. Harvard is 4-5-2 against the Tigers in that stretch.
About The Tigers
It has been a bit of a rough start for the Tigers this season, as they enter the weekend with a 1-6-0 overall record and an 0-4-0 mark in ECAC play. Its lone win on the season came in the first game; a 3-2 overtime victory over league foe Dartmouth in the Liberty Hockey Tournament. Then No. 7 Yale bested Princeton a day later, 3-2, in the tournament finale. Princeton showed well in a midweek matchup with No. 16 UMass Lowell, falling to the non-conference foe, 2-1, at Hobey Baker Rink Tuesday. Princeton takes on Dartmouth Friday before hosting Harvard Saturday.
Junior forward Tucker Brockett enters the weekend as Princeton's top scorer with five points and a team-leading three assists. Senior forward Andrew Ammon holds the team goals lead at three, while classmate Jack Berger leads all Princeton skaters with two power play tallies on the year. Junior Aaron Ave, who scored his first career goal Tuesday against UMass Lowell, leads all defensemen in scoring with 1-2-3 points in six games played.
Senior Sean Bonar has seen the lion's share of the minutes in goal for Princeton, starting five of the seven contests. He holds a 3.22 goals-against average and .897 save percentage.
Last Season vs. The Tigers
The trend of closely contested games continued last season as both matches were decided in overtime.
In its first game following New Years, Harvard fell behind by two, thanks to markers by Andrew Calof in the first and second periods. Marshall Everson closed the gap to one with a second-period strike and Colin Blackwell knotted the game at 2-2 with 7:10 to play in the third. Overtime would be necessary to decide the result, but Calof completed the hat trick just 58 seconds into the extra frame, clinching a 3-2 win for the hosts.
A night after a thrilling win over top-ranked Quinnipiac, Harvard had its hands full with Princeton in the regular-season finale. Alex Fallstrom scored a short-handed goal to give Harvard a 1-0 lead but Michael Sdao knotted the score at 1-1 in the second. Overtime was once again necessary and once again Andrew Calof played hero, potting the game-winner with 37 seconds to play in the game.
After failing to net a power play goal in its first four contests, Harvard has now collected an extra-man marker in each of its last two. Sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey has both power play tallies for Harvard this season after netting two all of last season.
Freshman Luke Esposito has collected assists in each of his last three games, giving him the longest assists streak of the season to date.
Consider It Killed
Penalty killing has been a strength for Harvard this season, as it enters the weekend with the fifth-ranked penalty kill in the nation (91.7%, 22/24). Only Quinnipiac (93.2%, 55/59) has a better mark in the ECAC. Harvard's penalty kill was on point against Clarkson Nov. 9, as the Crimson quelled two five-on-three scenarios in the game.
Opponents have had a tough time figuring out senior goalie Raphael Girard, who has posted shutouts in two of his three starts this season. In the season opener, Girard stopped 43 shots to blank Bentley, 3-0, and he picked up 28 saves in a 2-0 shutout over No. 10 Rensselaer. He became the first Harvard goalie since Kyle Richter '10-11 in 2007 to record consecutive clean sheets.
Allowing just 2.00 goals per game, the Harvard defense enters the weekend ranked tied for sixth in the nation. The Crimson has conceded just 12 goals through six games this season. That mark is tied for second among all ECAC teams, with Quinnipiac leading the nation at 1.55 goals allowed per game (17 goals in 11 games).
Staying Out Of Trouble
The Crimson has done well so far this season of not hindering itself with an abundance of penalties. Harvard is averaging just 10 penalty minutes per game, good for the ninth-lowest average nationally. Only Yale (9.7 penalty minutes per game) and Union (9.6) are ahead of Harvard among ECAC squads.
Block N' Roll
A big reason for Harvard's defensive success this season has been its penchant for blocking shots. The Crimson has recorded more blocks than its opponent in every game so far this season, reaching the 15 blocks mark in all six contests. In Harvard's 2-0 shutout of No. 10 Rensselaer, the Crimson blocked 29 shots, compared to RPI's 12. The 29 blocked shots represented the most in a game for a Harvard team since March 12, 2011, when the Crimson amassed 34 blocks in a 2-1 loss to Dartmouth in the ECAC Championship quarterfinals.
Rookie defenseman Kevin Guiltinan leads all Harvard players with 23 blocked shots, followed by sophomore Desmond Bergin (16) and senior captain Dan Ford (13). On the season, Harvard has blocked 120 shots to its opponents' 81.