Ancient Foes Await Men's Hockey in Brown, No. 8/8 Yale
Harvard at Brown/No. 8 Yale
Men's Hockey looks to jump over .500 in Ivy League action this weekend (Gil Talbot).
The Ivy League road swing continues for the Harvard men's hockey team, as it travels south to faceoff against Brown and No. 8/8 Yale. Harvard is 1-1-0 in Ivy League play this season, downing Princeton, 5-3, in its Ivy opener and dropping a 2-1 decision to Dartmouth in its most recent action.
• After toppling No. 20 New Hampshire, 6-3, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Harvard fell to league foe Dartmouth, 2-1, the Saturday following the holiday. Harvard jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Jimmy Vesey goal in the second period, but strikes from the Big Green in the second and third stanzas powered it to victory.
• Harvard has faced seven nationally-ranked opponents in its 11 games this season, holding a 3-3-1 record in such games. The Crimson has scored eight goals and conceded eight goals in its four games against ranked ECAC opponents.
• Brown is Harvard's oldest rival, while Yale is Harvard's most contested rivalry. The Bears are the only team on the 2013-14 schedule that the Crimson faced prior to 1900 with the teams' first meeting coming in 1898. The Crimson and Bulldogs have squared off 240 times since their first meeting in 1900.
• 2013-14 marks the fourth year in the past six that Harvard will face the reigning national champion during the regular season.
• 15 of Harvard's last 17 goals have been scored by either freshmen or sophomores. Underclassmen are also responsible for 58 of Harvard's 69 total points (84%) through 11 games this season.
Harvard played its first hockey game against Brown Jan. 19, 1898 at Boston's Franklin Field, the first installment in college hockey's oldest rivalry. Brown won, 6-0. Harvard and Yale first faced off Feb. 26, 1900, a 5-4 Yale victory in New York. The series is college hockey's third‑longest‑running and 12th-most-contested at 240 meetings.
After a strong start to the 2013-14 campaign, the Bears have tapered off a bit, bringing a 3-6-1 overall record into the matchup with Harvard. In its season opener, Brown knocked off defending national champion Yale, 4-1, and topped Dartmouth a night later to cap the Liberty Invitational Oct. 25-26 in Newark, N.J. Since then, Brown's lone win came at Princeton, 6-3, and the Bears bring a four-game losing skid into the showdown with Harvard.
Scouting The Bears
Sophomore forwards Mark Naclerio and Nick Lappin sit atop the Brown scoring chart with Naclerio leading the way with 5-8-13 points. Lappin is close behind with 3-8-11 points, and is tied with junior forward Matt Lorito, who holds the team lead in goals with six. Naclerio has been clutch for Brown this season as he has netted all three game-winners for the Bears. Senior Dennis Robertson leads the defensemen in scoring, amassing 2-4-6 points through 10 games.
It has been a nearly even split in playing time between senior Marco Del filippo and freshman Tyler Steel, with Del filippo holding the edge in games (6), goals-against average (2.72) and save percentage (.925). Steel has been in net for two of Brown's victories this season.
Last Season vs. Brown
Both the Crimson and Bears successfully defended home ice last season, with Harvard holding court in its ECAC opener Nov. 2, 2012. All five goals in the game were scored in the second period and Colin Blackwell erased a 1-0 Brown lead at 11:31 with a short-handed score. Kyle Criscuolo and Brendan Rempel '13 struck soon after, and despite a Matt Lorito goal late in the second, Harvard was able to hang on in the 3-2 win.
Another scoreless first in Providence Jan. 19 gave way to a six-goal second period, where Brown notched four straight scores after Tommy O'Regan gave the Crimson a 1-0 lead. Brian Hart cut the deficit to 4-2 late in the second, but Brown's fifth goal of the game came in the third to seal the 5-2 final. Then-freshman Peter Traber got his first start in net for the Crimson, collecting 30 saves.
There have been few signs that the Bulldogs are suffering from a national championship hangover, as Yale enters the weekend as the No. 8 team in the country, boasting a 6-2-2 overall record. Yale followed the surprising loss to Brown in the season opener with a seven-game unbeaten streak, during which is knocked off nationally-ranked Clarkson, 6-3, and tied then-No. 5 Quinnipiac in a rematch of the 2013 national championship game, 3-3. The Bulldogs dropped a narrow, 2-1 decision at Cornell Nov. 23 and picked up a 3-2 overtime win over Mercyhurst Nov. 30.
Scouting The Bulldogs
Yale boasts a balanced attack as 19 skaters have logged at least one point through 10 games. Rookie forward Mike Doherty leads the way with 3-6-9 points on the year, while senior Kenny Agostino is close behind with 1-7-8 points and a team-high seven helpers. Classmate Jesse Root leads all scorers with six goals this year, and is tied for the team lead in power play goals with Stu Wilson (2). Junior defenseman Tommy Fallen is Yale's top-scoring blueliner with 2-5-7 points on the season.
The freshman tandem of Patrick Spano and Alex Lyon has handled goaltending duties for the Bulldogs. Lyon has seen action in seven games and holds slightly better numbers than Spano (2.23 GAA, .920 save percentage). Spano has started three games for Yale and is undefeated on the season at 3-0-0. Lyon also has three wins to his credit this season.
Last Season vs. Yale
The Crimson had a tough time with the eventual national champion Bulldogs in 2012-13, dropping both ends of the season series. In the series opener at Bright Hockey Center, Yale struck first just 3:20 into the game, but Kyle Criscuolo answered with a goal at 10:37 to close the first. From there it was all Yale, as a second-period tally gave it the lead and three third-period strikes put away the 5-1 win.
The rematch at Ingalls Rink was televised nationally on NBC Sports Network and the Bulldogs silenced a depleated Crimson squad, 4-0, on the strength of a pair of Trent Ruffolo goals.
Penalty killing has been a strength for Harvard this season, as it enters the Brown game with the No. 3-ranked penalty kill in the nation (90.5%, 38/42). Only Quinnipiac (91.4%, 74/81) and Denver (91.4%, 64/70) have more efficient penalty kill units than the Crimson. Harvard's penalty kill was on point against Clarkson Nov. 9, as the Crimson quelled two five-on-three scenarios in the game.
Big Apple Preview
Among the many marquee matchups on the 2013-14 schedule, the highlight of the season comes Jan. 11 when Harvard takes on archrival Yale at Madison Square Garden in the first ever Rivalry On Ice. The game will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network and Harvard will host an alumni game prior to the showdown with the Bulldogs.
Harvard enters the weekend with a 4-6-1 overall record, the same record it had through 11 games last season. The Crimson played 10 games before the New Year last season while Harvard plays 13 before Jan. 1 in 2013-14.
In its highest output of the 2013-14 season, the Crimson poured in six goals in a 6-3 defeat of No. 20 New Hampshire at the Whittemore Center Nov. 26. Harvard also recorded a season-high by recording 11 assists and 17 total points in the game.
In just his third game with the team this season, junior Patrick McNally recorded a goal and two assists in the win over New Hampshire. McNally also became the first Crimson defenseman to record a goal this season with an empty-net score in the final minute
Power Play Push
After failing to score on the power play in its first four games of the season, Harvard has collected a power play goal in six of its last seven contests. Sophomore Jimmy Vesey has netted three of those man-up scores
Harvard has shown a penchant for netting late scores through 11 games this season, scoring almost half of its goals this season in the third period. The Crimson is outscoring teams 24-19 in the second and third periods combined, including a 13-10 margin in the third period. Harvard outscored UNH 3-1 in the third period in the Nov. 26 victory.