Jack Christian and the Crimson took three points in their previous weekend against Union and RPI (photo courtesy DSPics.com).
The Harvard men's hockey team begins the six-game, post-Beanpot stretch run of its regular season with key games against fifth-place Rensselaer Friday and first-place, 16th-ranked Union Saturday at Bright Hockey Center. The puck drops both nights at 7 p.m.
Follow From Home
Live video of the games will be available with a Crimson Video subscription on GoCrimson.com, which also provides free live statistics. WH-RB-FM 95.3 and WHRB.org offer live audio.
Behind the Bench
Former Crimson captain, NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player and 13-year National Hockey League veteran Ted Donato '91 is in his sixth season as The Robert D. Ziff '88 Head Coach for Harvard Men's Ice Hockey. He owns an 88-82-20 record, three ECAC title-game appearances and two NCAA tournament bids.
Last Time Out
Tyler McNeely scored twice to lead Northeastern to a 4-1 win against the Crimson in the consolation game of the 58th Beanpot tournament Monday evening at TD Garden. Ryan Carroll (Hackensack, N.J.) made 30 saves for Harvard while allowing three goals, and Conor Morrison (London, Ont.) scored his ninth goal of the season. The rookie's defelection of a Ryan Grimshaw (Rochester, N.Y.) shot cut in half a second-period NU lead.
Ready to Move
The Crimson (6-14-3, 6-7-3 ECAC Hockey) trails fourth-place St. Lawrence by four points and four positions and has only six games left to challenge for a playoff bye, but four of those contests are against teams that started the weekend ahead of Harvard in the league standings. Last year's squad went 4-0-2 over the final six league games to jump from ninth place to fifth, missing out on a bye by two points.
With the switch to a new academic calendar this year, Harvard's exam break moved from January to December, but the Crimson's success following exams is noth new. Under Ted Donato, Harvard is 36-10-8 in post???exam league games (5-2-1 so far this season) and 17-3-5 in post-Beanpot ECAC contests. The Crimson is unbeaten (11-0-4) in its last 15 post-Beanpot league games and is 19-0-0 in February home games under Donato.
The Bright Stuff
The Crimson is 56-26-3 (.676) at home under Ted Donato and 278-119-28 (.682) all-time at Bright Hockey Center, which opened in 1979-80.
Harvard is 2-1 at home against ranked teams this season and has won seven of its last eight home games against ranked opponents, dating back to 2007-08. The Crimson is 3-4-1 overall against ranked teams this season, including a 4-1 win at then-No. 13 Union Jan. 22.
Quality, Not Quantity
Harvard had been outshot in each of its five wins before its win at Brown Feb. 5. In each victory, the Crimson had recorded fewer than 30 shots on goal and allowed more than 30. Harvard outshot the Bears, 35-29, in a 5-2 win.
Vote for Alex
Alex Biega (Montreal, Que.) is among the candidates for a chance to compete in the NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge April 9 in Detroit. He is a nominee for the men's East squad. To aid in the selection process, fans can vote for Biega, Harvard women's player Anna McDonald and the other candidates on NCAA.com.
Leading the Crimson
Freshman Louis Leblanc (Kirkland, Que.) paces Harvard with 10 goals and 19 points in 21 games, Michael Biega (Montreal, Que.) has 17 points and a team-high 12 assists.
Chad Morin (Auburn, N.Y.) has four assists in the last three games. Fellow defenseman Ryan Grimshaw has had a point in two straight games.
Rolling in Goal
Ryan Carroll has a .939 save percentage, 2.19 goals-against average and 4-3-0 record in his last nine appearances. He has started Harvard's last seven league games. Carroll ranks 15th nationally with a .919 save percentage and owns a 2.77 goals-against average.
Harvard vs. Rensselaer Series History
Harvard is 7-3-1 against Rensselaer during the coaching tenure of Ted Donato. In the five series home games during that span, the Crimson is 5-0 with four total goals allowed. Harvard owns a 45-33-3 lead in the all-time series, which began with a 6-2 home win by the Engineers in 1951. The teams have combined for three national titles and have met twice to determine the ECAC champion, a 3-1 RPI win in 1985 and a 3-0 Harvard victory in 1994.
Jan. 23 at Houston Field House
Louis Leblanc scored with 2.3 seconds left in regulation to complete a comeback from a 2-0 third-period deficit to tie Rensselaer, 3-3, in Troy, N.Y. Alex Killorn (Montreal, Que.) and Doug Rogers (Watertown, Mass.) also scored in the third. Leblanc and Rogers each added an assist. Paul Kerins and Marty O'Grady each had a goal and an assist for the Engineers, who got 26 saves from Allen York to combat Harvard's 29-23 shots advantage.
Scouting the Engineers
Rensselaer (15-12-3, 8-6-2) has lost just once in its last six games, 4-3 in overtime at Brown Jan. 29. The Engineers have had a streaky season, with wins against nationally ranked New Hampshire and Yale (twice) but also with a a stretch of six losses in seven games. RPI is the most-penalized team in ECAC play at 16.4 minutes in the box per game but has the league's second-ranked penalty kill at 87.6 percent.
Chase Polacek is the eighth-leading scorer in the nation with 41 points on 18 goals and 23 assists and paces ECAC Hockey with 26 league points. Brandon Pirri is the only ECAC freshman with more league points than Louis Leblanc's 18, with 18 of his 21 points coming on assists. Allen York owns a .908 save percentage, 2.58 goals-against average and 12-10-3 record.
Harvard vs. Union Series History
The Crimson holds a 29-5-3 all-time edge against the Dutchmen and has lost just twice in the last 17 meetings. Ted Donato is 8-2-1 against the Dutchmen, and the Crimson is 15-2-1 in series meetings at Bright Hockey Center.
Jan. 22 at Messa Rink
Harvard handed No. 13 Union its first league loss, 4-1, in Schenectady, N.Y. Ryan Carroll made a career-high 47 saves, allowing Eric Kroshus (Calgary, Alta.) to set up Conor Morrison's tying goal and score the game-winner himself. Danny Biega (Montreal, Que.) and Alex Fallstrom (Stockholm, Sweden) added empty-net tallies. Fallstrom also had an assist, and Biega's score was the first of his collegiate career.
Union had entered the game in first place with a 7-0-3 league record. Jason Walters scored a power-play goal to give the Dutchmen a 1-0 lead early in the second period, but the Crimson killed Union's final six chances with the man advantage. Three of those penalty kills came in the third period. Keith Kinkaid made 21 saves for Union.
Scouting the Dutchmen
The loss to Harvard started a four-game winless streak for Union (15-7-6, 9-3-4), but the Dutchmen rebounded in a big way Feb. 5, pounding Clarkson, 11-2. They followed a night later with a 4-2 win against St. Lawrence.
Union enters its Friday matchup with Dartmouth ranked second in ECAC Hockey scoring offense, averaging 3.69 goals per league game. Mario Valery-Trabucco is the league leader in goals (14) and ranks second in points (25) in ECAC play. He has 35 overall points on 16 goals and 19 assists, while Jason Walters has 14 scores and 19 helpers for 33 points. After rotating in goal with Corey Milan for much of the season, rookie Keith Kinkaid has made four straight starts. He is 9-4-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
Click here for full Harvard men's hockey game notes in PDF format.