Opening Round of ECAC Championship Pits Men's Hockey Against No. 16/15 Yale
11th-seeded Harvard will take on archrival Yale in a best of three series starting Friday in New Haven, Conn. (Photo: Associated Press).
The Harvard men’s hockey team begins its 2014 ECAC Tournament with a first round matchup at archrival No. 16/15 Yale this weekend. The teams will meet in a best-of-three series with games being played Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday. Friday’s game represents the fourth meeting between Harvard and Yale this season.
• In the teams’ three meetings so far this season, Yale has had the upper hand, holding a 2-0-1 record against the Crimson. The teams tied in their initial meeting, 2-2 at Ingalls Rink, and Yale went on to capture a 5-1 win in the inaugural Rivalry On Ice and a 5-2 victory in Cambridge two weeks ago.
• Harvard wrapped up its regular season schedule in strong fashion last weekend, besting No. 16/15 Colgate, 2-1, and narrowly dropping a 3-2 final to No. 11/11 Cornell in overtime in its final regular season contest. The win over Colgate marked the first time Harvard had won at Starr Rink since 2006.
• Freshman Sean Malone came on strong down the stretch for Harvard, posting a point in six of his final eight games. The rookie has seen Harvard record a 7-6-2 in games where he records a point.
• 54 of Harvard’s last 58 goals have been scored by either freshmen or sophomores, including a stretch of 33 straight strikes. Underclassmen are responsible for 148 of Harvard’s 180 total points (82%) through 29 games.
• In his 93rd game in a Harvard uniform, senior defenseman Danny Fick recorded his first collegiate goal, leveling the score at 1-1 against Colgate last Friday. All three senior position players on the Harvard roster have now scored a goal in their collegiate careers.
• This season marks the first time in ECAC Tournament history that Harvard will play as the No. 11 seed. Harvard has a 1-2 series record as a No. 10 seed or lower.
Series History: Yale
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 243 meetings. While Harvard leads the all-time series, 140-83-20, the Bulldogs have had success against the Crimson recently, taking five of the last eight meetings, including two of three matchups this season.
About The Bulldogs
The Bulldogs put together a solid campaign in the year following their national championship run, finishing the season with a 15-9-5 overall record and ranked in both national polls. Consistency was a bit tough for Yale this season as it managed to record back-to-back wins just three times on the season, but it ended its season with a 3-1-1 record, including a 5-0 shutout of Rensselaer in its final regular-season contest.
Powering Yale up front all season has been the senior forward tandem of Jesse Root and Kenny Agostino. Root ended the regular season as the team point leader with 31 and also notched a team-best 18 assists on the year. Root was also the team leader in +/- with a +15 rating, and had team-high totals in power-play goals (4) and game-winning goals (3). Agostino finished the regular season with 28 points, tying Root for the team lead in goals with 13 and accounting for 15 assists as well. Mike Doherty had a strong rookie season, leading all first-year players on the roster with 8-9-17 points. Sophomore Ryan Obuchowski and senior Gus Young shared the points lead among defensemen, with the former totaling 5-12-17 points and the latter 6-11-17 points.
Rookie Alex Lyon saw the lion’s share of action in goal for Yale this season, starting 26 of the 29 games for the Bulldogs. He finished the regular season with a 2.37 goals-against average and .919 save percentage, being in net for 12 of Yale’s 15 wins.
Versus Yale in 2013-14
The Crimson has already faced the Bulldogs three times this season, skating to a 2-2 tie at Ingalls Rink Dec. 7, dropping a 5-1 contest to Yale in the first ever Rivalry On Ice matchup at Madison Square Garden Jan. 11 and falling 5-2 in Cambridge.
The freshman class took care of the scoring in the first meeting of the year, as Alexander Kerfoot and Luke Esposito netted second-period goals to give the Crimson a 2-0 edge after two periods of play. A Matt Killian goal just 2:08 into the third got the hosts on the board and Kenny Agostino tied it with 14:19 gone to force the game to overtime. Harvard outshot Yale, 4-3, in the extra period, but the game ended in a 2-2 draw. Raphael Girard set a career-high in saves on the day, stopping 52 shots to help the Crimson collect a point.
The Broadway lights proved to be a bit too bright for Harvard in the inaugural Rivalry On Ice meeting Jan. 11. Jimmy Vesey’s power-play tally allowed the Crimson to sit on a 1-1 tie after the first period, but a three-minute span in the second saw Yale pour in three goals to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Agostino potted a fifth goal in the final frame to cap the 5-1 victory for the Bulldogs.
The third meeting of the season was a power-play exhibition on both sides of the puck, as the teams combined for five man-up goals in the game. After a scoreless first period, Yale stormed out to a 3-0 lead, depositing a pair of power-play goals in the second to put the Crimson behind the eight ball. Alexander Kerfoot started the third with a power-play tally of his own, but Jesse Root’s man-up marker stretched the Yale lead to 4-1. Brian Hart scored on a 5-on-4 to make it 4-2, but am empty-net goal from Root sealed the 5-2 final for the Elis.
Against Yale In The Playoffs
The Crimson has been successful against the Bulldogs in ECAC Tournament history, facing Yale nine times and recording eight victories. The two teams first met in the ECAC Tournament in 1986, with Harvard topping Yale, 6-3, in the consolation game. This is just the second time the Crimson and Bulldogs will meet in the first round of the tournament, the first coming in 2007 when Harvard advanced with a 2-0 series win, taking the games 5-2 and 2-1. Harvard’s only ECAC Tournament loss to Yale came in 2012 when the Bulldogs took Game 1 of an eventual 2-1 series win by the Crimson.
Harvard hosted Yale in the 2012 ECAC Championship Quarterfinals in the teams’ most recent playoff matchup. It was a series for the ages, as two of the three games went to overtime.
The teams were knotted at 1-1 after two periods of play in Game 1, thanks to goals from Yale’s Trent Ruffolo and Harvard’s Luke Greiner ’13. A scoreless third pushed the game into overtime where Kenny Agostino ended things just 3:49 in, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 series edge.
A two-goal, first-period lead for the Bulldogs in Game 2 was erased in the second stanza as power play tallies from Danny Biega ’13 and Marshall Everson ’13 locked the score at 2-2 after 40 minutes of action. Biega struck again with a man advantage with 8:40 to play in the game, but Yale’s Antoine Laganiere leveled the score with 27 left in regulation, forcing the game to overtime once again. The first 20-minute OT went by without incident, and it wasn’t until 9:20 into the second overtime that Dan Ford buried the game-winner, forcing a deciding Game 3.
The Crimson cleared its throat in the rubber match, and after Chad Ziegler gave Yale a 1-0 lead 4:06 into the game, Harvard scored six straight times, including four in the second period, to power to an 8-2 win and a berth in the ECAC Final Four.
For the second straight season, Harvard ended its regular-season schedule with an overtime loss. In 2012-13, Harvard fell to Princeton, 2-1, with 37 seconds remaining in OT. This season ended with a 3-2 loss to Cornell with 36 seconds remaining in the extra period.
Junior Steve Michalek recorded an assist in Harvard’s 5-2 loss to Yale two weekends ago, marking the first helper for a Harvard goalie this season. Both Michalek and Raphael Girard recorded assists during the 2011-12 season and no Harvard goalies had a helper last year.
The Hot Hand
After platooning with senior Raphael Girard through the early part of the season, junior Steve Michalek has been strong for the Crimson in recent action. He is unbeaten in five of his last seven starts and has logged shutouts in two of them.
Michalek needed just 21 saves to record the third shutout of the season for Harvard in the 3-0 win over Dartmouth. It marked the first collegiate shutout for Michalek, who had previously only had one game where he allowed one goal or less. He then stopped 31 shots in a 1-0 overtime victory against No. 14/15 Clarkson Feb. 14.