Raphael Girard leads the nation with a 1.52 goals-against average this season (Gil Talbot).
After seven straight ECAC Hockey contests, the Harvard men's hockey team steps out of conference action to take on nearby foe No. 7/7 Boston College at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. The matchup with the Eagles represents the first time since 2009 that the two teams will meet outside of the annual Beanpot Tournament.
• Harvard snapped a four-game losing skid in its most recent game, netting four third-period goals in a 5-3 win at Princeton Saturday. Jimmy Vesey had a pair of goals for Harvard and goalie Steve Michalek picked up his first win of the season.
• Against No. 6/5 Quinnipiac Friday, the Crimson hung tough with the highest-ranked ECAC team in the country. Kyle Criscuolo scored in the second period to cut the Harvard deficit to 2-1 after two, and Vesey kept Harvard within one at 3-2 with a third-period strike. Harvard could not find the equalizer late in the third, despite outshooting the Bobcats, 18-8, in the final frame.
• Sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey has scored at least one goal in the past four games, totaling five goals and six points during that span. The four-game point streak matches a career best for Vesey, and the four straight games with a goal is a career high.
• The Quinnipiac/Princeton road weekend produced a number of firsts for Crimson players:
- Sean Malone: first career goal, first career multi-point game (Nov. 16 at Princeton)
- Phil Zielonka: first career assist (Nov. 15 at Quinnipiac)
- Tyler Moy: first career goal, assist and multi-point game (Nov. 16 at Princeton)
• Wednesday's contest will be the fifth game this season against a ranked opponent. Harvard started the season with a 3-3 tie and a 2-0 win over then-No. 10 Rensselaer, before dropping one-goal decisions to then-No. 16/15 Clarkson (2-1) and then-No. 6/5 Quinnipiac (3-2).
Series History vs. BC
Wednesday's matchup between the Crimson and Eagles will be the 120th all time. The series began in 1919 when Harvard claimed a 7-2 victory at the Boston Skating Club. Harvard trails in the all-time series 44-70-5 and the current eight-game BC winning streak is the longest by either team in the series history. The teams have faced each other 39 times in the Beanpot with the Eagles holding a 25-13 lead in tournament games.
About The Eagles
Perennially in the thick of the Hockey East title chase, 2013-14 has been no different for the Eagles, as they bring a 7-2-2 record into the matchup with the Crimson. A tough road test to start the season went Michigan's way Oct. 10, but BC responded with big wins over Rensselaer and Wisconsin. The Eagles come to Cambridge riding a six-game unbeaten streak, which includes a pair of wins over Northeastern, a 5-1 win over Boston University and a 2-2 tie with Massachusetts in its most recent action.
Scouting Boston College
Junior forward Johnny Gaudreau leads the Eagles with 10-10-20 points through 11 games, and is the top-ranked scorer in the nation, averaging 1.82 points per game. His 10 goals represent a team-high total and he is tied with senior Kevin Hays for second in assists. Hayes has posted 6-10-16 points on the year, with classmate Bill Arnold holding the team lead in assists with 13. The Eagles also boast the top scoring offense and combined special teams ranking in the nation, and are second in scoring margin, behind only Minnesota.
Junior goalie Brian Billett has received the majority of reps in net, starting seven of the 11 games and leading the team with four wins. Rookie Thatcher Demko has played well in his four starts, posting a perfect 3-0-1 mark and leading the team in goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.928).
Last Season vs. The Eagles
A first-round matchup pitted the high-flying Eagles against the Crimson in the 61st annual Beanpot. Quinn Smith started the scoring for the Eagles with a goal late in the first period, and he stretched the lead to 2-0 with another marker in the second. Michael Matheson struck on the power play to close the second, but Danny Biega's goal midway through the third kept the Crimson within reach. With just over five minutes remaining, Steven Whitney iced the game with an unassisted tally, capping the scoring in a 4-1 final.
The Crimson offense had its best showing of the season Saturday at Princeton, yielding five goals and six assists. Four Harvard players (Brian Hart, Sean Malone, Tyler Moy and Jimmy Vesey) recorded multi-point games, marking the first time this season Harvard has had more than one multi-point scorer in a game.
Both Brian Hart and Jimmy Vesey come into the B.C. matchup riding four-game point streaks. Hart has posted an assist in each of his last four games, including a pair of helpers against Princeton, representing his longest career point streak. Vesey brings a four-game goal scoring streak into Wednesday's contest, while Kyle Criscuolo and Sean Malone have each logged points in their last two games.
Right On, Rookies
The freshman class has made a significant impact for Harvard through eight games this season. Six of the nine newcomers have logged at least point, and all nine have seen game action. Sean Malone leads all freshmen in points with 1-4-5, followed by Luke Esposito (0-4-4), Tyler Moy (1-2-3), Kevin Guiltinan (0-2-2), Alexander Kerfoot (1-1-2) and Phil Zielonka (0-1-1).
Harvard has shown a penchant for netting late scores through eight games this season, scoring almost half of its goals this season in the third period. The Crimson is outscoring teams 16-10 in the second and third periods combined, and holds a 19-18 advantage in overall scoring.
Power Play Poise
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 four. Sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey has three of the four power-play strikes, with Kyle Criscuolo accounting for the fourth. Vesey had two power-play goals all of last season.
Penalty killing has been a strength for Harvard this season, as it enters the B.C. game with the fourth-ranked penalty kill in the nation (90.9%, 30/33). Only Quinnipiac (92.2%, 59/64) 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 four 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 2.25 goals per game, the Harvard defense enters the weekend ranked 14th in the nation. The Crimson has conceded just 18 goals through eight games this season. That mark is third among all ECAC teams, with Quinnipiac leading the nation at 1.54 goals allowed per game (20 goals in 13 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 10th-lowest average nationally. Only Yale (9.1 penalty minutes per game) is 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 six of eight games this season, reaching the 15 blocks mark in seven of eight 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 29 blocked shots, followed by sophomore Desmond Bergin and senior David Valek (17), and senior captain Dan Ford (16). On the season, Harvard has blocked 146 shots to its opponents' 116.