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Sunday Exhibition Pits Men's Hockey Against Russian Red Stars

Kyle Criscuolo is the top-rated player on the Crimson at +7 (Gil Talbot).

Video: Men's Hockey Mid-Season Report


Sunday's Game
The Harvard men's hockey team takes on the Russian Red Stars in an exhibition contest Sunday at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. It marks the final game of the 2013 portion of the schedule for the Crimson.  

About Harvard
Approaching the midpoint of the 2013-14 schedule, the Crimson stands at 4-7-2 overall with a 2-6-2 mark in ECAC Hockey play. Harvard started the season off strong with a 2-0-1 record, including wins over Bentley and No. 10 Rensselaer. A four-game losing skid was snapped by a 5-3 win over Princeton in Harvard's first Ivy League contest of the season, and a 6-3 win over No. 20 New Hampshire saw the Crimson post its highest goal output of the 2013-14 campaign.

Sophomore forward Jimmy Vesey leads all players in points through 13 games, notching 11 on a team-high eight goals and three assists. Classmate Kyle Criscuolo is right on his tail with 10 points (7g, 3a), while rookie Luke Esposito (3g, 5a, 8pts) is the top-scoring freshman on the roster. Sophomore Brian Hart has amassed a team-leading seven assists and Criscuolo is the top-rated player on the team at +7.

Senior goalie Raphael Girard has seen action in eight of Harvard's 13 contests. His .948 save
percentage is the highest in the nation, and his 1.88 goals-against average ranks within the top 10 in all of collegiate hockey. He has been in net for three of Harvard's four wins this season, and owns two shutouts in 2013-14.

About The Red Stars
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.

The team is slated to play six games during its time in the United States. Dec. 23, the squad will face the Eastern Hockey League All-Stars, followed by games against Yale (Dec. 27), Harvard (Dec. 29), Colgate (Dec. 31), Merrimack (Jan. 2) and Cornell (Jan. 3).

Last Time Out
Harvard's last action came the weekend of Dec. 6-7 when it hit the road to take on Ivy rivals Brown and Yale. Against the Bears, a pair of first-period goals put the Crimson in a 2-0 hole, but Jimmy Vesey cut the lead to 2-1 early in the third period. A third-period power play gave Harvard a look at the equalizer, but the guests were unable to strike again in the 2-1 defeat.

A night later in New Haven, Conn., Harvard took on archrival No. 8 Yale in front of a packed house at Ingalls rink. After a scoreless first, Alexander Kerfoot got Harvard on the board with a second-period power play strike and classmate Luke Esposito doubled the Crimson lead with 13 seconds to play in the period. The Bulldogs rallied, however, netting a pair of their own in the final frame and forcing the game to end in a 2-2 tie. Senior goalie Raphael Girard set a new personal high with 52 saves on the night, becoming the first Harvard goalie since 1986 to break the 50-save mark in a single game.

On The Horizon
The Crimson returns to action after the New Year with home games against local rival Boston University (Jan. 4) and league foe Quinnipiac (Jan. 7).

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 on the NBC Sports Network and tickets are on sale now through the Madison Square Garden website (www.thegarden.com).