Men's Hockey Playoffs Begin as Harvard Visits Princeton
Alex Biega was an ECAC all-tournament selection in 2008 (photo courtesy Jim Rosvold).
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The Harvard men's hockey team seeks to start a run to its ninth ECAC Hockey championship and an NCAA tournament berth as it visits Princeton this weekend for a bestâ€‘of-three first-round playoff series.
The Crimson (7-19-3) and Tigers (12-14-3) will face off Friday and Saturday with a deciding game to be played Sunday, if necessary. All games will start at 7 p.m. at Baker Rink.
Follow From Home
Live video of the games will be available from B2 Networks on a pay-per-view basis. WHRB-FM 95.3 and WHRB.org offer live audio, while Princeton will provide live statistics.
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 89-20 record, three ECAC title-game appearances and two NCAA tournament bids.
From the Head Coach
Scroll to the bottom of this page to view Ted Donato's weekend preview interview with WHRB's Tom Brennan.
Harvard has an 83-44-4 all-time record in the ECAC playoffs and has won eight titles to trail only Cornell in wins (87) and championships (11). In the last nine league tournaments, the Crimson is 28-10 with three league titles (2002, 2004, 2006), three runner-up showings and seven total semifinal appearances.
Louis Leblanc (Kirkland, Que.) was recognized Thursday as the 2009-10 Ivy League Rookie of the Year. He is the 12th Harvard player to earn the honor and the first since Tim Pettit '04 in 2000-01. With 11 points and seven goals in Ivy games, he was the Ancient Eight's top rookie scorer by a three-point margin. He also had three more goals than the league's second-leading freshman sniper, despite missing one of the Crimson's 10 Ivy games with an injury. He was +4 in Ivy play.
Kyle Richter (Calgary, Alta.), Alex Biega (Montreal, Que.) and Louis Leblanc earned All-Ivy League honorable mention. Richter stopped 121 of the 131 shots he faced in Ivy play for a league-leading .924 save percentage. Richter ranked second among Ivy goaltenders with a 2.48 goals-against average. It is his second All-Ivy selection; he was a first-team pick in 2007-08.
Biega scored two goals, one on the power play, in Ivy action. He added a pair of assists and was +3. Biega received recognition from the Ivy League for the third straight season. He was a first-team selection last season after earning honorable mention as a sophomore.
ECAC Hockey All-Rookie
Louis Leblanc has been named to the ECAC Hockey All-Rookie team. He scored all 11 of his goals and registered nine of his 10 assists in league play, leading league freshmen in goals and ranking third among league rookies in points. He tied for second the the league with three ECAC game-winning goals.
Leblanc was joined on the ECAC All-Rookie squad by Rensselaer forwards Jerry D'Amigo and Brandon Pirri, St. Lawrence defenseman George Hughes, Cornell defenseman Nick D'Agostino and Union goaltender Keith Kinkaid. He is the 24th Harvard player to be selected to the team.
The Crimson closed the regular season with a pair of one-goal road losses. Clarkson defeated Harvard, 2-1, in overtime Friday. The game was scoreless for two periods until Doug Rogers (Watertown, Mass.) scored in the opening minute of the third. The Golden Knights answered 11 seconds later and went on to add an overtime winner. Rogers went 19-6 in the faceoff circle for a season-high wins total. Ryan Carroll (Hackensack, N.J.) made 20 saves as each team recored 22 shots on goal.
In a penalty-filled regular-season finale the following night at St. Lawrence, Harvard fell behind by four goals before getting back in the game with goals by Louis Leblanc, Danny Biega (Montreal, Que.) and Chad Morin (Auburn, N.Y.) scored in a five-minute stretch spanning the second intermission, but the Saints hung on, 4-3.
Harvard has lost each of its last three games by one goal or one goal plus an empty-netter. Four of the last five losses have come by that slim margin.
Nov. 14 at Baker Rink
Michael Biega (Montreal, Que.) scored with 57 seconds remaining to complete a two-goal comeback for a 3-3 tie with host Princeton. Biega, brother Alex and Doug Rogers each registered a goal and an assist, while Kyle Richter made 28 saves. The Tigers' Dan Bartlett and Mike Kramer had a goal and an assist each.
Jan. 29 at Bright Hockey Center
Conor Morrison (London, Ont.) scored the tying goal in the second period, but Princeton answered before the end of the frame and Zane Kalemba made 13 of his 34 saves in the third period as the Tigers defeated the Crimson, 2-1. Kalemba withstood a flurry of shots during a Crimson power play in the game's final minute. Ryan Carroll made 32 stops for Harvard.
This series is a rematch of the 2008 league championship game, which the Tigers won, 4-1. Princeton scored once in the first period and again in the second. John Pelle '08 cut the deficit to 2-1 in the first minute of the third period, assisted by Mike Taylor '08 and Alex Biega, but two late goals sealed the win and league title for Tigers and ended the Crimson's season one win shy of the NCAA tournament. Zane Kalemba made 35 saves to lead Princeton, while Kyle Richter stopped 24 shots.
Nine current Harvard players skated against the Tigers in the 2008 ECAC title game: Alex Biega, Michael Biega, Jack Christian (Wilton, Conn.), Chris Huxley (Weymouth, Mass.), Matt McCollem (Westford, Mass.), Pierâ€‘Olivier Michaud (Mont-Joli, Que.), Chad Morin, Kyle Richter and Doug Rogers. Twelve players who played for Princeton are still on the Tigers' roster.
The First Playoff Meeting
Harvard swept a home quarterfinal series against Princeton, 6-2 and 8-0, in 1993.
Only Yale has faced off against Harvard more than Princeton. Starting with a 6-3 win March 1, 1902 in New York City, Harvard holds a 144-54-10 series edge. Harvard is 7-5-1 against Princeton under Ted Donato but is 0-2-1 in its last three trips to Baker Rink.
Doug Rogers has a team-high 10 points (7-3-10) in nine career games against Princeton. He registered his first career hat trick against the Tigers Feb. 15, 2008. Alex Biega has eight career points (1-7-8) in nine games against Princeton. Rogers (3-7-10) and Biega (0-7-7) are also Harvard's active career leaders in ECAC playoff scoring.
Scouting the Tigers
Princeton went 3-4-1 in the final eight games of an up-and-down regular season. The Tigers lost twice in 11 games over nearly two months, but that followed a seven-game winless skid. Princeton is 7-6-1 at home and split there against Yale (7-4 loss) and Brown (7-3 win) last weekend.
Dan Bartlett paces the Tigers with 16 goals and 28 points. Mark Magnowski (9-17-26) leads the team in assists. Mike Kramer has scored 11 goals and assisted on 14 others. Zane Kalemba, the 2009 ECAC Player of the Year and 2008 playoff Most Outstanding Player, is 8-10-3 with a .900 save percentage and 2.30 goals-against average.
Brown overcame a combined shots disadvantage of 86-49 to defeat the Crimson, 1-0 and 2-0, in the first round of the 2009 ECAC playoffs. The Bears' Mike Clemente stopped 39 shots in the first game and 47 in the second to hand Harvard its first official consecutive shutouts in 109 seasons of hockey.
Harvard in the ECAC First Round
This is the Crimson's fourth appearance in the first round of the ECAC Hockey tournament. All three previous series have come at Bright Hockey Center. No. 6 seed Harvard swept Vermont, 3-0 and 5-3, to start its run to the 2004 league title. The seventhâ€‘seeded Crimson downed Yale, 5-2 and 2-1, in 2007.
Harvard won its first ECAC tournament title in 1963, the second year of the event. The Crimson later claimed championships in 1971, '83, '87, '94, 2002, '04 and '06.
Seven of Eight for the Ancient Eight
Ivy League teams have won seven of the last eight ECAC tournaments. After Harvard and Cornell alternated titles for five years, Clarkson claimed the 2007 event. Princeton and Yale won in 2008 and '09, respectively. Ivy teams have won 10 of the last 13 tournaments and 22 of the 48 overall.
Click here for Harvard men's hockey game notes in PDF format.