Final Push For Home Playoff Series Sends Men's Hockey to No. 16/15 Colgate, No. 11/11 Cornell
The Crimson will fight for the final home playoff series spot this weekend against Colgate and Cornell (Gil Talbot).
The Harvard men’s hockey team wraps up its regular season with one final ECAC road trip, taking on No. 16/15 Colgate Friday and No. 11/11 Cornell Saturday in the regular-season finale. After this weekend, the Crimson will have faced three ranked opponents in its final four regular-season contests.
• While the Crimson still has a chance to clinch a home playoff series in the first round, it will need some help from other teams. Harvard enters the weekend in 11th place, three points back of eighth-place Brown. Harvard can only finish as high as eighth in the league, and can move no lower than 11th in the final standings.
• It was a tough weekend at Bright-Landry Hockey Center in Harvard’s final home weekend of the regular-season, as it dropped a 5-2 decision to then-No. 14/14 Yale Friday night and a 2-0 final to Brown Saturday. Alexander Kerfoot and Brian Hart netted the goals for Harvard against Yale, both coming on the power play.
• Freshman Sean Malone has come on strong down the stretch for Harvard, posting a point in five of his last six games. The rookie has scored in seven straight games that Harvard has notched at least one goal in, and the team is 7-5-2 in games where Malone records a point.
• Despite a trying weekend against the Bulldogs and Bears, the Crimson penalty kill continues to rank among the best in the nation, as it stands 13th in the country and third among ECAC teams. Only Quinnipiac and Cornell have stronger penalty kill units than the Crimson.
• 51 of Harvard’s last 54 goals have been scored by either freshmen or sophomores, including the last 33 strikes. Underclassmen are responsible for 139 of Harvard’s 169 total points (82%) through 27 games.
Series History: Colgate
Harvard holds a significant 47-23-7 edge in the all-time series with the Raiders, a series which dates back to 1961. The Crimson got off to a fast start in its tenure against Colgate, earning wins in 17 of the first 20 meetings. Recently, the Raiders have held their own, recording a 5-4-1 record in the last 10 meetings.
About The Raiders
Colgate may very well be the surprise team of the season in the ECAC, as it enters the final weekend of action with a 16-11-5 overall record, a 12-5-3 league record and needing just one point to clinch a first-round bye in the ECAC Tournament. Colgate suffered through a four-game losing streak Oct. 19-Nov. 1, but has only lost back-to-back games twice since then. The Raiders captured the Mariucci Classic Jan. 4 after sliding by Minnesota in a shootout and Ferris State in the final, and are unbeaten in their last five games.
What the Raiders boast is a balanced attack, as five players have eclipsed the 20-point mark on the season and another five have reached double-digits. The top five scorers on the team are all sophomore forwards, led by Tyson Spink with 28 points and a team-high 20 assists. Darcy Murphy, the fifth-leading point-scorer on the team, ranks first in goals with 14 while Tylor Spink is close behind with 13 scores. Junior Spiro Goulakos is the top-scoring defenseman on the squad, entering the weekend with 8-10-18 points to his credit while sophomore blueliner Kevin Lough is the highest-rated player on the squad at +11.
Rookie Charlie Finn has taken the reigns in goal for the Raiders, earning starts in 22 of the squad’s 32 games. He holds a 2.44 goals-against average and .918 save percentage, and boasts an impressive 13-5-4 record on the season.
Jan. 18, 2014 in Cambridge
In the teams’ first meeting of the year, Colgate grabbed a commanding 3-0 lead in the first period and added an empty-net score in a 4-2 win over the Crimson. Mike McCann scored for Colgate just 2:54 into the game, and Tylor Spink and Daniel Gentzler added scores to close the first up 3-0. Kyle Criscuolo struck on the power play 4:35 into the second period and converted another power-play chance with 1:52 to play in the third. Harvard removed the goalie for the extra skater in the final minute, but Ryan Johnston found the empty net to seal the 4-2 final.
About The Big Red
Like Colgate, Cornell has its sights set on a first-round bye in the ECAC Tournament as it enters the final weekend in fourth place in the league standings. Cornell boasts a 14-7-5 overall record to go with a 10-6-4 conference mark, and is ranked No. 11 in both national polls. It has been a bit of a streaky season for Cornell as wins and losses have tended to come in bunches. A three-game win streak to start the season was leveled by a four-game winless stretch immediately after. A 10-game unbeaten run from Dec. 7 to Feb. 1, which included four ties and a win over the Crimson, shot the Big Red up in the national rankings, and the team is riding a two-game winning streak into the final weekend after sweep Quinnipiac and Princeton on the road Feb. 21 and 22.
It is the junior class doing most of the damage for Cornell this season as a quartet of third-year players sit atop the scoring chart. Forward Brian Ferlin leads in many categories, including points (24), goals (12), power-play goals (6) and game-winning tallies (5). Classmates Joel Lowry and Joakim Ryan have identical stat lines with 6-15-21 points, and share the team lead in assists. Ryan represents the top-scoring blueliner on the team while fellow junior defenseman Jacob Macdonald leads all skaters with a +8 rating.
Senior netminder Andy Iles has been his usual solid self as the go-to goalie for the Big Red, starting all but one contest for Cornell. He holds a 2.26 goals-against average and .920 save percentage on the season, and has 13 wins to his credit.
Jan. 17, 2014 in Cambridge
While the Crimson was able to overcome a first-period deficit, Cornell was able to have the last laugh in a 3-2 defeat of Harvard earlier this season at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. Madison Dias netted a short-handed goal for the Big Red 6:22 into the contest and Christian Hillbrich struck with four seconds on the clock to close the first period up 2-0. Sean Malone answered back for the Crimson just past the halfway point of the second period, and Devin Tringale tied the game with a short-handed effort of his own five minutes later.
Dustin Mowrey would net the final goal of the game with just 20 seconds left in the second period, as a scoreless third led to a one-goal with for Cornell. Steve Michalek turned aside 25 shots in the game for Harvard while counterpart Andy Iles notched 22 saves in the win.
Junior Steve Michalek recorded an assist in Harvard’s 5-2 loss to Yale last weekend, 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.
Against The Ivies
Harvard’s Ivy League opponents have proven to be tough challenges in 2013-14, with the Crimson holding a 3-5-1 record in Ivy games. Three of Harvard’s five losses in Ancient Eight contests have been one-goal defeats, two of which occurred on the road (Dartmouth, Brown). The Crimson skated to a 2-2 tie with Yale Dec. 7 to cap the 2013 portion of its schedule, and downed Princeton, 3-2, Jan. 31 to sweep the season series with the Tigers. The Crimson also held court against Dartmouth Feb. 7 in a 3-0 shutout.
The Crimson and Big Red have combined for three NCAA titles, with Cornell capturing two and Harvard one. They rank first and third in ECAC regular-season championships (Harvard 13, Cornell 9) and first and second in league tournament crowns (Cornell 12, Harvard 8). The rivals have combined to finish first or second in the ECAC Hockey Tournament 11 times over the last 10 seasons.
Either Harvard or Cornell has won or shared the Ivy League crown in 38 of the league’s 56 seasons, with Harvard totaling 21 titles and Cornell 19. The teams shared the honor in 1983‑84 and 1984-85 and Cornell will secure its 20th Ivy title following this weekend.
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 four of his last five 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.
While Harvard had trouble early in the season stopping opponents from scoring first-period goals, the Crimson has shut out its last four, and five of its last six opponents in the opening 20 minutes. Harvard hasn’t allowed a first-period goal to a conference opponent since Jan. 24 in a 4-3 loss at then-No. 3 Union.