Harvard vs. No. 10/10 Yale
Harvard is looking to keep its current three-game unbeaten streak alive vs. the Bulldogs Saturday (Gil Talbot).
Game Notes (.pdf)
Highlights: Harvard Skates to 2-2 Tie vs. No. 7 Quinnipiac
Video: Crimson Looking Forward to Rivalry On Ice
In the biggest game of the season to date, the Harvard men's hockey team faces off against archrival Yale in the first ever Rivalry On Ice Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The game will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
• With a 1-0-2 record in its last three games, Harvard has shown the ability to play against the top teams in the nation. Tuesday, the Crimson rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits to tie No. 7/7 Quinnipiac, 2-2, at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. Kyle Criscuolo scored the first goal for the Crimson in the second period, and Alexander Kerfoot buried the equalizer with 49 seconds left in regulation with an empty net behind him.
• While the Rivalry On Ice game won't factor into conference standings, both teams will be gunning for the win after a 2-2 tie in New Haven Dec. 7. The game marked Harvard's final regular-season contest of the 2013 portion of the schedule.
• Freshman Alexander Kerfoot is riding a three-game point streak heading into the Yale matchup, tied with junior Patrick McNally for the longest active streak on the team. Kerfoot had the first multi-point game of his career Tuesday with a goal and an assist on the night. McNally has recorded at least one helper in his last three games.
• 26 of Harvard's last 29 goals have been scored by either freshmen or sophomores. Underclassmen are responsible for 78 of Harvard's 98 total points (79%) through 15 games this season.
• Saturday's game will be Harvard's ninth against a ranked opponent this season. The Crimson is 2-3-3 against ranked foes this season.
• Tuesday's result against Quinnipiac marked Harvard's third tie of the season with all three coming against conference opponents. Harvard has won both games immediately following the first two draws 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 241 meetings.
About The Bulldogs
There have been few signs that the Bulldogs are suffering from a national championship hangover, as Yale enters the weekend as the No. 10 team in the country, boasting a 7-3-4 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.
Following the 2-2 tie against the Crimson Dec. 7, Yale posted a 4-1 win over Holy Cross Dec. 29 and skated to a 3-3 tie with Vermont in its last outing.
The senior leadership of forwards Kenny Agostino and Jesse Root has helped Yale maintain its position among the nation's elite. Agostino enters the Harvard showdown as the team's top scorer with 6-7-13 points on the year, and Root is close behind with 6-4-10 points to his credit. Junior forward Trent Ruffolo holds the team assist lead at eight while Stu Wilson and Chris Izmirlian share the team lead with a pair of game-winning strikes this season. Junior Tommy Fallon has proven to be the most offensive-minded defenseman on the squad, leading the blueliners with 2-5-7 points in 14 games.
Rookies Patrick Spano and Alex Lyon have both seen time in net, with Lyon grabbing 11 starts to Spano's three. Spano holds slightly better numbers, however, with a 1.93 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.
Dec. 7 in New Haven, Conn.
A gutsy comeback by the hometown Yale Bulldogs saw the game go to overtime, but a career-high 52 saves from senior goalie Raphael Girard helped the Harvard men's hockey team skate to a 2-2 tie with defending national champion No. 8/8 Yale at Ingalls Rink.
A scoreless first period saw Girard turn aside 16 shots and help the Crimson squash two Yale power plays. The momentum shift to the Crimson resulted in the game's first goal 8:48 into the second, when Alexander Kerfoot tipped home a Jimmy Vesey pass on the power play to make it 1-0. With just 13 seconds left in the second, Luke Esposito made it 2-0 Crimson, converting a Patrick McNally feed and giving Harvard a two-goal edge after two. The hosts came back with a pair of strikes of its own, however, and despite an impressive 18 saves from Girard in the frame, the game went to overtime. The senior goalie made all three saves in the extra frame, and the Crimson escaped an electric Ingalls Rink with a 2-2 tie and a league point.
Harvard is 0-1-2 in three games against foes from Connecticut this season, and has scored exactly two goals in each of those three contests.
Last season, Harvard played some of its best hockey when the game was broadcast on NBC Sports Network. In three games broadcast by NBCSN, Harvard was 2-1-0 with a pair of wins over top-10 teams. The Crimson topped then-No. 10 Cornell, 4-1, Nov. 16 at Lynah Rink before edging out Boston University, 6-5 in overtime, Jan. 9 at Agganis Arena.
Harvard's matchup against Yale at Madison Square Garden is the only game slated for NBCSN coverage this season.
Back To Neutral
The Harvard-Yale showdown at MSG represents the first regular-season neutral-ice contest for the Crimson since a showdown with Union at Fenway Park Jan. 13, 2012.
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.
We Can Come Back
Harvard's 7-4 victory over Boston University Saturday marked the first time this season the Crimson has won a game in which the opponent has scored first. Harvard had been 0-5-1 in such games this season prior to the BU showdown, and was 0-7-1 in games where it trailed at any point.
Harvard continued its unbeaten mark when leading after two periods to 5-0-1 on the year, and upped its record to 5-2-1 in games where it holds a lead at any point.
The Crimson has held three opponents to less than 30 shots on goal this season and is 2-0-1 in such games. On the flip side, Harvard is 3-2-1 in games where it posts 30 or more shots on net.
In Harvard's 7-4 win over Boston University, players from all four class years were represented on the scoresheet. That has only happened one other time this season in a 4-2 loss to Union Nov. 2, 2013.
Firsts and Freshmen
Three Harvard skaters collected their first goals of the season in Saturday's BU game, with David Valek, Phil Zielonka and Victor Newell scoring in succession in the first and second periods. Newell also picked up his first assist in the game, feeding Zielonka for his second of the game. Newell and Zielonka's goals marked the first of their collegiate careers and freshmen were responsible for five of the seven goals scored in the game.
Harvard prepped for its showdown with the Terriers by hosting the Russian Red Stars in a foreign exhibition Dec. 29 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.
Penalty killing has been a strength for Harvard this season, as it enters the Yale game with the No. 8-ranked penalty kill in the nation (86.2%, 50/58). Only Quinnipiac (92.2%, 95/103), which leads the nation in penalty killing, has a better percentage than Harvard among ECAC schools. Harvard's penalty kill was on point against Clarkson Nov. 9, as the Crimson quelled two five-on-three scenarios in the game.
In its second-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.