Men's Hockey Kicks Off New Year with Saturday Showdown Against Boston University
Brian Hart is the team assists leader with seven in 13 games (Gil Talbot).
Game Notes (.pdf)
Highlights: Harvard's Exhibition Win Over The Russian Red Stars
The Harvard men's hockey team opens the New Year with a showdown against local rival Boston University in a non-conference matchup at Bright Hockey Center. The game marks the first of five straight contests where the Crimson will be the home team.
• Harvard's most recent action came in an exhibition matchup against the Russian Red Stars, a game the Crimson won 9-3 on the strength of a Jimmy Vesey hat trick. The Russian squad took on Yale, Colgate, Merrimack, Cornell and the Eastern Hockey League All-Stars during its time in the states.
• This is just the fourth non-conference game for the Crimson this season and third against a Hockey East opponent. Harvard opened the season with a 3-0 win over Bentley of the Atlantic Hockey conference, but dropped a 5-1 decision to then-No. 7/7 Boston College Nov. 20 at home. The Crimson redeemed itself with a convincing 6-3 win over then-No. 20 New Hampshire six days later, putting Harvard's non-conference mark at 2-1-0 this year.
• Last season, the Crimson faced six Hockey East schools, putting together a 2-3-1 record in those games. Both of Harvard's wins against Hockey East opponents came against Boston University. Harvard downed the No. 8/8 Terriers, 6-5 in overtime, at Agganis Arena Jan. 9, and posted a 7-4 win over No. 11/13 BU in the Beanpot consolation game.
• In its last non-exhibition contest, Harvard overcame a raucous sold-out crowd at Ingalls Rink to tie No. 8/8 Yale, 2-2, Dec. 7. The Crimson took a 2-0 lead into the final period, thanks to a power-play strike from rookie Alexander Kerfoot and an even-strength goal from classmate Luke Esposito. Yale potted two of its own in the third and withstood a Harvard push in overtime to finish the 2-2 final. Raphael Girard made 52 saves for Harvard in the game.
• 18 of Harvard's last 20 goals have been scored by either freshmen or sophomores. Underclassmen are responsible for 63 of Harvard's 77 total points (82%) through 13 games this season.
Series History vs. BU
The series against Boston University is one of Harvard's oldest, thanks in large part to a number of matchups in the annual Beanpot Tournament. Harvard trails in the all-time series, 65-76-6. The teams first faced each other in 1922 and Harvard captured wins in 15 of the first 16 matchups. The Crimson also owns the longest win streak in the series, earning 11-straight victories from 1927-37. Harvard enters tonight's matchup riding a two-game win streak against the Terriers. The Crimson has also posted wins in three of the last five meetings.
About The Terriers
Despite a handful of signature wins already this season, the Terriers begin the New Year below .500 with a 7-8-2 overall record on the season. BU took three of its first four contests, including a 7-3 upset over No. 2 Wisconsin at Agganis Arena, but followed with road losses to Michigan and Michigan State. A split with third-ranked Providence preceded a three-game losing skid, and after downing No. 14 Cornell at Madison Square Garden Nov. 30, the Terriers went 0-2-1 in their final three games of 2013.
Robbie Baillargeon paces the Terriers in points (13) and shares the team lead in goals (5) with Danny O'Regan and Nick Roberto. Ahti Oksanen leads all players with 10 assists in 17 games while Baillargeon holds the highest rating on the team at +6, one of just three plus-players on the squad. O'Regan and Roberto also share the team lead in game-winning goals, as both players have two this season.
Matt O'Connor has been the go-to goalie this season, playing in 13 games as compared to Sean Maguire's five. Both Maguire and O'Connor hold impressive .929 save percentages while Maguire's 2.49 goals-against average is slightly better than O'Connor's 2.61. O'Connor has been in net for six of BU's seven wins this season.
Last Season vs. The Terriers
Harvard proved to be the stronger team in two high-scoring affairs last season, besting the Terriers, 6-5 in overtime, in front of a national television audience at Agganis Arena, and again in the Beanpot consolation game by a 7-4 score.
It was an inauspicious start for Harvard in the first meeting as BU took a 3-0 lead early in the second frame. Tommy O'Regan got the Crimson on the board at 2:29 and a power-play goal from Brian Hart brought the Crimson to within one six minutes later. The Terriers rallied for two more scores, extending their lead back to three goals with 18:33 to play in the game, but Marshall Everson and Luke Greiner scored to bring the Crimson within one. Colin Blackwell put home his own rebound on a chipped puck towards the net, tying the score at 5-5 and forcing overtime. Conor Morrison played the role of hero, collecting a pass from O'Regan and burying the shot to seal the comeback victory with only 48 seconds left to play.
The Crimson had its biggest offensive output of the season against No. 11/13 Boston University in the second meeting of the year. Two BU goals in the first 12 minutes put the Crimson in a hole, but strikes from Dan Ford and Danny Biega allowed Harvard to close the first period in a 2-2 tie. After the Terriers reclaimed the lead 1:38 into the second period, Harvard took over, scoring three straight to take a 5-3 lead into the second intermission. Marshall Everson netted his first at 3:19 and Luke Greiner followed with an even strength and a power-play goal. Everson tacked on another to start the third period, and Greiner completed the hat trick with a short-handed, empty-net goal with eight seconds to play in the game. Peter Traber, making his second collegiate start, racked up 43 saves in the victory.
Tommy O'Regan faced off against his younger brother, Danny, for the first time ever in the first Harvard-BU matchup last year. The brothers received attention prior to the clash as the featured subjects of a Boston Herald article, and both O'Regans put on a show in the game. Tommy finished with a goal and two assists, including the primary helper on Conor Morrison's game-winning goal in overtime. Danny netted a pair of scores in the game and had one assist to match his brother's point output on the evening. Tommy collected another assist in the Beanpot consolation game while Danny went without a point.
Their father, Tom O'Regan, was a four-year player and team captain at Boston University from 1979-83.
Harvard prepped for its showdown with the Terriers by hosting the Russian Red Stars in a foreign exhibition Sunday at Bright-Landry Hockey center. The Crimson powered out to a 5-0 lead after the first period, and saw seven different players light the lamp while grabbing a 7-1 edge. Jimmy Vesey netted the final two goals for the Crimson to complete the hat trick, sealing a 9-3 win.
The Red Stars are an all-star team of 25 players, ages 17 to 21, from the 64-team "junior hockey league" called the MHL. The league is the younger brother of the KHL, the "professional hockey league" in Russia. The MHL, with more than 2,000 players, is in its fifth year of existence and is the first junior hockey league that unites Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Hungary and Slovakia.
Record For Raph
Senior goalie Raphael Girard had a stellar showing in the 2-2 tie at No. 8 Yale. The Quebec native racked up a career-high 52 saves in the game, including 18 in the third period alone. Girard becomes the first Harvard goalie to eclipse the 50-save mark in a game since Grant Blair '86 made 60 saves in a 6-6 tie against Boston College, Dec. 21, 1984.
Penalty killing has been a strength for Harvard this season, as it enters the Brown game with the No. 4-ranked penalty kill in the nation (90.0%, 45/50). Only Quinnipiac (91.7%, 88/96), Boston College (90.6%, 77-85) and Denver (90.4%, 85/94) 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.
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 seven of its last nine contests. Sophomore Jimmy Vesey has netted three of those man-up scores
Harvard has shown a penchant for netting late scores through 13 games this season, scoring almost half of its goals this season in the third period. The Crimson is outscoring teams 27-21 in the second and third periods combined, including a 14-12 margin in the third period. Harvard outscored UNH 3-1 in the third period in the Nov. 26 victory.