The Opening Faceoff
Riding high on a six-game win streak and its highest ranking in the history of the current national polls, the No. 2/3 Harvard men's hockey team will travel to Rensselaer and No. 11/11 Union for a pair of ECAC Hockey contests this weekend. Puck drop both nights is slated for 7 p.m.
The First Line
• Harvard jumped two spots in the USCHO.com poll this week, rising to No. 2 in the nation. The ranking is the highest ever for the Crimson since USCHO.com began releasing its poll in 1997-98. Harvard remained No. 3 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll for the second-straight week.
• Harvard enters the weekend on a six-game win streak, the second-best unbeaten streak in the nation behind UMass Lowell's seven-game mark (6-0-1). Air Force is tied with the Crimson for the nation's longest winning streak at six games (6-0-0). For the Crimson, it's the longest streak for the team since it reeled off eight victories early in the 2014-15 season.
• Goaltender Merrick Madsen garnered his third ECAC Goaltender of the Week honor on Jan. 10, after helping the Crimson defeat Quinnipiac and Princeton last weekend. The junior stopped 65-of-69 shots over the two games and made a season-high 34 stops versus the Bobcats. His 2.10 GAA in league games is second lowest in the conference.
Last Time Out
The Crimson posted matching scores of 5-2 as it triumphed over No. 15/15 Quinnipiac and Princeton at Bright-Landry Hockey Center last weekend. Nathan Krusko recorded a hat trick in the victory over the Bobcats leading to his recognition as the ECAC Rookie of the Week. Five different Crimson scored against the Tigers, with Alexander Kerfoot tallying three points on one goal and two helpers.
Harvard and Rensselaer met just two weeks ago in Cambridge with the Crimson dispatching the Engineers, 5-1. Rensselaer has followed that game with losses to UMass Lowell and Clarkson to extend its losing skid to seven games. Rensselaer has just one win since Nov. 5, coupled with 14 losses in that span.
Keeping teams off the scoreboard has been a hindrance for the Engineers, as they allow 4.13 goals per game, while only scoring 2.04 of their own. Senior Riley Bourbonnais has a team-high nine goals, while sophomore Evan Tironese has 16 assists and 20 points. Sophomore goaltenders Chase Perry and Cam Hackkett have split time in net and both holds a GAA over 3.89.
Series Record vs. Rensselaer: 54-37-7
Last Five Meetings: 3-1-1
Dec. 30, 2016 - W, 5-1
March 12, 2016 - W, 8-2
March 11, 2016 - W, 5-2
Feb. 12, 2016 - L, 1-2
Dec. 5, 2015 - T, 0-0 (ot)
Union has steadily climbed the national polls this season and enters this weekend slotted 11th in both. The Dutchmen registered a six-game win streak through December until dropping a 3-1 decision to then-No. 8/8 North Dakota Dec. 31. Union also fell in its most recent game, a 5-4 overtime defeat at No. 5/5 Boston University. Helping it build a 14-5-2 record is Union's disciplined nature. The Dutchmen average just 10.3 penalty minutes per game, the fourth-lowest mark in the country.
Senior Alex Sakellaropoulos has been steady in net for Union, starting 17 games and holding a 13-3-1 record. He has a .916 save mark and 2.57 GAA. Fellow senior Mike Vecchione has racked up 39 points and a 1.86 PPG average that both rank second in the nation. He has 18 goals and 21 assists to lead the Dutchmen.
Series Record vs. Union: 31-14-6
Last Five Meetings: 1-2-2
Feb. 13, 2016 - W, 4-1
Dec. 4, 2015 - T, 4-4 (ot)
Jan. 30, 2015 - L, 4-5
Nov. 8, 2014 - T, 2-2 (ot)
Jan. 24, 2014 - L, 3-4
On Jan. 6 against Quinnipiac, senior forward Tyler Moy served up three assists, a new career-high. It marked the fourth time this year that a Crimson player had at least three assists in a game. On Nov. 26 against Bentley, Alexander Kerfoot dished out four assists, while Ryan Donato (Nov. 5-Cornell) and Adam Fox (Dec. 2- St. Lawrence) each had three earlier this season.
Harvard moved up to No. 2 in this week's USCHO.com poll, its highest such ranking in the poll that began during the 1997-98 season. Harvard has been ranked in the USCHO.com poll for 60 weeks, while it has spent the last 42 weeks ranked in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Harvard held steady at No. 3 in the USA Hockey poll for the second week in a row.
Harvard enters the weekend leading the nation in goals per game at 4.57. Harvard has scored at least five goals in its last four games to raise its average, surpassing Penn State for the highest mark in the country. Last season, Harvard averaged 3.41 goals per game which was its best mark since posting 3.91 in 2002-03.
In back-to-back games this season against Bentley (Nov. 26) and at St. Lawrence (Dec. 2), senior forward Alexander Kerfoot had four points. It marked the first time since the 1990-91 season that a Crimson skater had four points in consecutive games. Current head coach Ted Donato '91 was the last to accomplish that feat early in his senior season when he went four-straight games with at least four points.
The Crimson is unbeaten at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center this season, going 6-0-1.
Freshman Adam Fox was one of 23 selected to represent the U.S. at the IIHF World Junior Championships. Fox and the Americans went 7-0 and captured gold with a shootout victory over host Canada. Fox was tremendous in the final game, dishing out three assists, including one on the game-tying goal.
Leading the Way
Senior co-captain Alexander Kerfoot is setting the tone for the Harvard offense this season. His 24 points lead the Crimson and he has recorded a point in 13 of Harvard's 14 games. He is in the midst of a 12-game point streak.
Scoring Four or More
Four goals has been the magic number for the Crimson this season, as all 11 of its wins has come when it has scored four or more times. Harvard is also 9-0-1 when allowing two goals or less.
Power Play Power
The Crimson has converted on 32.8 percent of its power play opportunities this season. It's 21-for-64 success rate is tops in the country.
Twice this season a Harvard skater has scored three times in a single game. The most recent instance came on Jan. 6 when freshman Nathan Krusko potted three against Quinnipiac. Sophomore Lewis Zerter-Gossage recorded his first career hat trick in Harvard's 4-3 win over Cornell Nov. 5. Krusko and Zerter-Gossage are two of four active Crimson players with hat tricks in their career. Sophomore Ryan Donato posted his hat trick in a Feb. 13, 2016 win over Union and senior Alexander Kerfoot earned his Nov. 11, 2014 at Boston College, when he also provided two assists. That five-point mark is the highest single-game point mark of current Crimson. Head coach Ted Donato recorded the lone hat trick of his career vs. Dartmouth in an 8-1 win Nov. 27, 1990.
Harvard is boasting a 2.36 scoring margin through the first 14 games of the season, the second-best mark in Division I. Harvard's offense is averaging 4.57 goals, while the defense has surrendered just 2.21, the 11th-lowest in the nation.