Harvard and Yale Set for Playoff Showdown at Bright
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The third-seeded Harvard men's hockey team looks to clinch its 29th appearance in the ECAC Hockey Championship semifinals as it opens the 2012 postseason with a best-of-three quarterfinal series against Ivy League rival Yale, seeded sixth.
The Crimson and Bulldogs will meet Friday and Saturday nights at Bright Hockey Center at 7 p.m., with Game 3, if necessary, coming Sunday at 7.
Tickets for both games are available from the Harvard Athletic Ticket Office. Fans can save $5 per ticket by buying online.
• The Crimson, which closed the regular season with a weekend sweep of St. Lawrence and Clarkson, is coming off a first-round bye. Harvard lost just once in its final 11 ECAC Hockey games (5-1-5).
• Harvard has an 88-48-4 all-time record in the ECAC playoffs and has won eight tournament titles to trail only Cornell in wins (94) and championships (12). In the last 11 league tournaments, the Crimson is 33-14 with three league titles (2002, '04 and '06), three runner-up showings and seven total semifinal appearances. This is the 51st ECAC tournament and Harvard's 43rd quarterfinal appearance. Harvard is 47-23-4 in ECAC quarterfinal games and has advanced from 28 of its 42 appearances in the quarterfinal round. The Crimson has won seven of its last 10 quarterfinal series.
• Harvard has trailed during play in 24 games, but has rallied to win or tie 17 of those contests (7-7-10), including the victories against St. Lawrence and Clarkson to cap the regular season.
• The Crimson ranks second in the NCAA in power-play efficiency at 27.8 percent (32 for 115), about one-fiftieth of one percent off the pace of Maine's top-rated power play. Harvard has scored a power‑play goal in 23 of its 28 games and netted multiple power-play goals in eight games.
• Alex Killorn (Montreal, Que.) leads Harvard with 36 points and 18 goals. He ranks 16th nationally with 1.24 points per game and10th with 0.62 goals per game. Danny Biega (Montreal, Que.) ranks second nationally among defensemen at 1.03 points per game (8-22-30).
How They Got Here
Harvard earned a first-round playoff bye with its top-four league finish. Yale defeated 11th-seeded Princeton in a three-game series. The Bulldogs won the opening game, 4-2, lost the second, 5-4 in overtime, and won the third, 7-3.
Elsewhere in the ECAC Hockey Championship
This weekend's other quarterfinal series feature another Ivy League matchup (No. 9 seed Dartmouth at No. 2 seed Cornell), a pair of neighboring schools (No. 10 seed Rensselaer at No. 1 seed Union) and two teams that tied in the final league standings (No. 5 seed Quinnipiac at No. 4 seed Colgate).
What's at Stake
The quarterfinal series winners will advance to the ECAC Hockey Championship semifinals at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. The tournament field will be reseeded for the semifinal round.
Last Time Out
The Crimson clinched third place in ECAC Hockey and the accompanying first-round bye in the playoffs by sweeping St. Lawrence, 4-1, and Clarkson, 3-2. Raphael Girard (Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.) made 31 saves, including 15 during SLU power plays and 14 in the second period, to lead the Crimson past the Saints Feb. 24. David Valek (Zagreb, Croatia) scored twice in that game and then netted the tying and winning goals in the third period Feb. 25, as Harvard rallied from two goals down to top the Golden Knights.
The Drawing Board
The Feb. 17 tie at Brown was Harvard's 11th of the season, setting a new NCAA record. Before the Crimson this season, three teams recorded 10 ties in a season: Minnesota State in 2002‑03, Colorado College in 2008‑09 and Western Michigan last season. Those MSU and WMU teams both made the NCAA tournament.
The Feb. 10 tie against Rensselaer was Harvard's eighth in ECAC play, eclipsing the previous league record held by the 1991-92 Yale, 2003‑04 Dartmouth and 2010-11 Quinnipiac squads.
Time and a Half?
Twelve of Harvard's 29 games have reached overtime, including 11 of the last 22. The Crimson has played 57 minutes, eight seconds of overtime.
The Crimson earned at least one standings point in 17 of its 22 ECAC Hockey games. With a 3-2-6 record in league road games, Harvard took points from nine of its 11 away contests.
The Crimson holds a 34-19 advantage against its opponents in third-period goals, including 16-6 over the last 12 games and 4-0 on the final weekend of the regular season. Harvard is 7-1‑4 when entering the third period leading or tied.
Harvard won or tied its season series against every team behind it in the ECAC standings. The Crimson won its series against Brown, Clarkson, Colgate and Quinnipiac and tied Dartmouth, Princeton, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence and Yale.
Harvard is 24-3-2 in February home games under Ted Donato '91. The Crimson is 24-10-6 in post‑Beanpot ECAC games and 48-24-16 in all post-exam league games in Donato's seven‑plus seasons. (Harvard's first-semester exams took place in January until being moved to December in 2009.)
Harvard has entered the final period trailing in 17 games but has rallied to win or tie in 10 of those. Harvard has trailed 34 times during play this season and has come back to tie 27 times. The Crimson trailed twice each in its win against No. 18 Colgate (Nov. 12) and its ties against No. 19 Quinnipiac (Nov. 5), Dartmouth (Nov. 25), No. 18 North Dakota (Dec. 30), No. 14 Union (Jan. 6) and No. 9 Cornell (Jan. 21). Harvard scored seven goals over the final two periods to rally from a four‑goal deficit and defeat New Hampshire, 7-6 (Nov. 22), and erased four separate one‑goal deficits in a 4-4 tie at Massachusetts (Dec. 2). Harvard is 3-7-7 when trailing after two.
Harvard has held 16 of its 17 opponents in the 2012 calendar year to three or fewer goals in regulation.
As the No. 3 Seed
Harvard's top-four ECAC finish and playoff bye were its first since 2007-08, when it also placed third. The Crimson went on to reach the 2008 ECAC final, where it fell to Princeton. In six tries as the ECAC's No. 3 seed, Harvard has reached five semifinals and won the 1963 and 2002 titles.
Harvard is tied for 21st in the PairWise Ranking. The Crimson is 4-5‑6 against its fellow teams under consideration for the NCAA tournament (Ratings Percentage Index of .500 or better).
Harvard has received votes in 16 of the 22 weeks of the USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll.
Ted Donato has been named a finalist for the Tim Taylor Award, as ECAC Hockey coach of the year. Donato led the Crimson to a third-place ECAC finish after Harvard was chosen seventh by the coaches and 12th by the media in the league's preseason polls. The other finalists are Union's Rick Bennett and Casey Jones of Clarkson.
Alex Killorn and Danny Biega were named to the All-Ivy League first team last week, while goaltender Steve Michalek (Glastonbury, Conn.) was named to the second team. Biega earned his second straight first-team selection by ranking second in the Ancient Eight with 14 points and 11 assists in Ivy games. Killorn, a second-team pick last season, led all players with eight goals against Ivy competition in 2011-12.
Goaltender of the Month
Raphael Girard was named ECAC Hockey/Fischer Hockey Goaltender of the Month last week. He was unbeaten at 3-0-2 in seven February appearances, posting a 1.75 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.
For its strong finish to the season, Harvard was recognized by College Hockey News as its national Team of the Week. Along with the first two multiple-goal games of his career, David Valek played his usual strong defensive game against St. Lawrence and Clarkson aned was subsequently named ECAC Hockey Player of the Week and Inside College Hockey National Player of the Week. Raphael Girard was named ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week. He stopped 58 of the 61 shots he faced, with two of the three goals he allowed coming on power plays.
Jan. 27 at Bright Hockey Center
Alex Killorn scored his second goal of the game with 1:19 left on the clock, guiding the Crimson to a 4-3 win against rival Yale with a national television audience watching on NBC Sports Network. Marshall Everson (Edina, Minn.) set up the winning goal after scoring to give Harvard a lead earlier in the third period. Luke Greiner (Faribault, Minn.) also scored. Steve Michalek made a career-high 36 saves, including 16 in the third period, while Danny Biega and Colin Blackwell (North Andover, Mass.) logged two assists each.
Feb. 18 at Ingalls Rink
Kenny Agostino logged two goals and two assists to lead Yale to a 7-1 home win. Danny Biega scored Harvard's goal.
Harvard leads its most-contested series, 138‑78‑19 and is 30-4-3 against the Bulldogs at Bright Hockey Center. In 1913, six weeks after voting to make hockey a "major sport," the Harvard Athletic Committee voted to award a varsity letter to any Harvard player who had ever skated against Yale.
Playoff Series History
Harvard has won all six ECAC playoff games against Yale, most recently sweeping the Bulldogs, 5-2 and 2-1, in a 2007 first-round series. In that series, Yale outscored Harvard by a 3-1 margin in the two first periods. Over the final two periods of the two games, the Crimson outscored the Bulldogs, 6-0. Harvard also swept Yale in a 2001 quarterfinal series at Bright and defeated the Bulldogs in the 1986 and '98 consolation games.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Yale is 5-1-1 in its last seven games. Antoine Laganiere scored five goals in the series and is one of four 30-point scorers on the Yale roster. Brian O'Neill, the Ivy League Player of the Year, paces the team with 45 points and 21 goals, while Andrew Miller leads the team with 27 assists. Nick Maricic and Jeff Malcolm have both seen significant time in goal. Malcolm leads the team with a .910 save percentage and 2.71 goals-against average.
Last Season's Playoffs
Tenth-seeded Harvard came within one goal of reaching the 2011 ECAC semifinals. The Crimson swept a first-round series at No. 7 seed Clarkson, 2-1 and 6-4, as Michael Biega '11 netted the game-winning goals each night. Daniel Moriarty (Bienfait, Sask.) scored the tying and go-ahead goals 44 seconds apart, during a five‑minute power play, in the third period of Game 2.
The Crimson held off No. 3 seed Dartmouth, 3-2, in the opener of its quarterfinal series and reached overtime in Game 2 before the Big Green stayed alive with a shot off a skate. Alex Fallstrom (Stockholm, Sweden) scored twice in the deciding game, but Dartmouth hung on to win the game, 4-3, and the series, 2-1.
2011 Playoff Leaders
Alex Fallstrom tied for second in ECAC Hockey with four playoff goals last season, while Michael Biega tied for fifth with six points (3-3-6).
Career Playoff Leaders
Danny Biega leads active Harvard players with nine points (3-6-9) in nine career playoff games. Alex Fallstrom (4-1-5), Alex Killorn (2-3-5) and Conor Morrison (London, Ont.) (0-5-5) have five points each. Fallstrom and Daniel Moriarty share the playoff goal-scoring lead with four each.