Men's Hockey Kicks Off Stretch Run at No. 14/15 Clarkson, St. Lawrence
Luke Esposito had a pair of goals against Boston University in the teams' last action (Photo: Gil Talbot).
Video: A Look Behind The Scenes of Rivalry On Ice at Madison Square Garden
Its crunch time for the Harvard men’s hockey team and with 12 league points up for grabs through the end of the regular season, the Crimson aims to collect four this weekend on the road against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. The Saints and Knights both picked up wins at the Bright-Landry Center earlier this season.
• Despite conceding the opening goal of the game, Harvard stormed into the lead in the second period en route to a dominating 6-2 win over Boston University Monday in the Beanpot Consolation game. Luke Esposito (2-1-3) and Kyle Criscuolo (1-2-3) both had three-point nights as the Crimson won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Harvard has now defeated BU four straight times for the first time since 1962.
• Prior to Monday’s Beanpot contest, the Crimson controlled a physical battle against Ivy rival Dartmouth, blanking the Big Green, 3-0, and collecting its second consecutive league victory. The Crimson boasts a 3-1-0 record in its last four games, its best four-game stretch of the season.
• The Crimson penalty kill continues to rank among the best in the nation, as it stands fifth in the country and second among ECAC teams. In league play, Harvard is the only team to have a penalty kill over .900, leading the league at .923 (60/65). Since the start of the New Year, Harvard has conceded just one power play goal to an ECAC opponent, killing 27 of 28 penalties in that span.
• 46 of Harvard’s last 49 goals have been scored by either freshmen or sophomores, including the last 28 strikes. Underclassmen are responsible for 125 of Harvard’s 154 total points (81%) through 23 games this season.
Series History: Clarkson
Neither Clarkson nor Harvard has been able to pull away in the all-time series, as the record stands at 51-52-11 in Clarkson’s favor through 114 career matchups. The teams first played in 1935; a three-game series leading up to the New Year that resulted in the teams splitting the first two and tying the rubber match. Recent history has favored the Crimson, with Harvard collecting six victories in the last eight meetings. The Crimson has won its last four games played at Cheel Arena and two of its last four played in Cambridge.
About The Knights
A hot start allowed the Knights to climb the national rankings, and despite cooling off a bit, Clarkson still remains within the nation’s top 15 teams in both major polls. Three wins and a tie in a four game homestand near the start of the season helped Clarkson gain confidence and a home-and-home sweep of nearby St. Lawrence gave the Knights valuable league points. Entering the game against the Crimson, the Knights stand tied for fourth in the league and have a first-round bye in their sights.
The Clarkson offense has been powered by a pair of seniors through 30 games this season, as forwards Allan McPherson and Ben Sexton top the team scoring chart. McPherson is the lone double-digit goal scorer on the squad with 11 to his credit, while Sexton is the team’s assists leader with 17. Both players have amassed 23 points on the season, lead the team with four power-play markers apiece, and are tied for second with a +5 rating. Sophomore Paul Geiger is the team’s top scoring defenseman, coming into the game with 5-9-14 points and a team-leading +10 rating.
The Knights have utilized two goaltenders evenly through the season, with Steve Perry and Greg Lewis each starting 14 game apiece. Perry leads the group with a 2.16 goals-against average and .915 save percentage, but both he and Lewis have amassed eight wins each.
Nov. 9, 2013 in Cambridge
A high-flying Clarkson squad made the trip to Bright-Landry Hockey Center in Harvard’s second home weekend of the season and the 8-2-1 Knights edged the Crimson, 2-1, in a chippy contest.
One goal was scored in each period of play, beginning with James de Hass’ marker at 13:11 of the first. Jimmy Vesey provided the answer for the Crimson just 1:16 into the second, converting on the power play with feeds from Brian Hart and Luke Esposito. The Knights would find the game-winner on the power play, however, and with 2:00 to play in the game it was Allan McPherson firing true to secure the 2-1 win for the guests.
The teams combined for 19 penalties on the evening, all minor infractions, and Harvard goalie Steve Michalek made 31 saves in the narrow defeat.
Series History vs. St. Lawrence
Saturday’s matchup between the Crimson and Saints will be the 102nd meeting between the two teams. Harvard holds a 53-42-6 lead in the all-time series. 1954 was the inaugural year of the Harvard-St. Lawrence series and the Crimson won the initial two matchups, the first being a 3-2 overtime victory at Boston Arena. The series has leveled off in recent history, with the teams nearly splitting the last seven contests and the Saints riding a three-game win streak.
About The Saints
Like the Crimson, St. Lawrence is on the cusp of securing home ice for the opening round of the ECAC Tournament, but needs to finish strong in order to realize that goal. The Saints sit tied for eighth in the league standings with 13 points, two ahead of Harvard. Three straight wins helped the Saints off to a solid start, but the pace proved to be a bit too much to maintain. However, St. Lawrence enters the weekend having won its last two games; a 7-1 win over Princeton and a 3-2 upset of then-No. 3 Quinnipiac. St. Lawrence’s record entering the weekend is 11-14-3 and 5-8-3 in ECAC action.
Scouting St. Lawrence
The story of the season has been the Carey brothers as Greg and Matt sit 1-2 atop the St. Lawrence scoring chart. Senior Greg is one of the top scorers in the ECAC, leading the ECAC with 14-32-46 points on the season. Freshman Matt has been a welcome addition this season, as his 16 goals represent a team-best and his 10 power-play markers rank second on the team behind only Jeremy Wick’s 11. Senior Justin Baker leads all blueliners with 8-19-27 points in 28 games.
Senior Matt Weninger has been the go-to choice in goal this season for the Saints, starting 24 of the 28 contests. He holds a 3.59 goals-against average and .872 save percentage this season.
Nov. 8, 2013 in Cambridge
The Saints didn’t waste any time getting things going in the teams’ first meeting of the season, scoring within the first two minutes of the game en route to a 3-1 win at Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
Chris Martin’s tally at 1:13 of the first set the tone for the game and Greg Carey struck later in the opening frame to give SLU a 2-0 lead after one. Jimmy Vesey’s second-period power-play tally cut the deficit in half, but Alex Hagen potted the Saints’ third goal of the night in the final minute of the period, capping a 3-1 Saints victory.
The Best Defense...
Saturday’s matchup will pit the league’s top power play (St. Lawrence) against the league’s best penalty kill (Harvard).
North Country Success
A number of players on the Crimson have experienced success collecting points against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. In three career games against the Saints, Jimmy Vesey has logged four goals and classmate Brian Hart had picked up three assists. In three games against the Knights, Vesey has 2-2-4 points while Hart has four helpers.