Harvard and Bentley will face off for the first time ever Saturday at Bright Hockey Center (Gil Talbot).
Complete Games Notes (pdf)
2012-13 Video Season Preview
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New England Hockey Journal: Harvard's Next Step
USCHO.com: Harvard Hopes Depth Will Provide Instant Impact
College Hockey News Ranks Harvard's Recruiting Class Best in ECAC
Home Opening Stretch
The Crimson kicks off the 2012-13 season with a five-game homestand. The season-opening homestand represents the longest in team history.
The Harvard men's hockey team will hold several ticket promotions and special events throughout the 2012-13 season. The Oct. 27 season opener against Bentley is community day where residents of Allston, Brighton and Cambridge get in for free and will receive a free magnet schedule. Nov. 2 versus Brown and Feb. 15 versus Colgate are both Coke Family Four Pack nights, while there are Groupon offers for the Dec. 10 game against UMass Lowell and the Jan. 25 contest against Clarkson. Social media night is Nov. 3 against Yale, which will also feature a Beat Yale t-shirt giveaway.
There are several appreciation nights planned, including Faculty/Staff Night (Nov. 9 vs. Union), Teacher Appreciation Night (Nov. 10 vs. Rensselaer), Youth Hockey Night (Jan. 26 vs. St. Lawrence) and Military Appreciation Night (Feb. 9 vs. Dartmouth). During the course of the season, there will also be multiple student rewards games, post-game autograph sessions, chuck-a-puck promotions and Stone Hearth intermission promotions.
For the full promotional schedule, click here.
Harvard is 80-29-3 all-time in official season openers, including a team-record 18 straight opening wins from 1922-39. Since the opening of Bright Hockey Center in 1979, the Crimson has compiled a 20-12-1 record in home openers and a 4-4-0 mark under Ted Donato.
The matchup with Bentley represents the first time Harvard has opened at home against a non-league opponent since the 2000-01 season, when the Crimson dropped a 5-3 decision to Vermont in its first home game of the season.
Despite the graduation of 2011-12 All-American and team top-scorer Alex Killorn, the Crimson returns plenty of scorers from last season. In fact, the next five scorers in line behind Killorn return to the team, fronted by 2012-13 captain Danny Biega, who led all blueliners with 35 points on 10 goals and 25 assists. In all, Harvard returns 66% of its scoring from a year ago.
While the Bentley game represents the regular season opener for Harvard, the Crimson opened its competitive schedule last Friday in an exhibition game against McGill. Things started fast for the home team as Harvard jumped out to a 3-0 lead after just 7:07 of action. Luke Greiner (Fairbault, Minn.) got the scoring started at the 5:45 mark of the first period and rookie Desmond Bergin made it 2-0 less than a minute later with a blast from the blue line. Fellow freshman Brayden Jaw converted on a one-on-one with the goalie and despite relinquishing a McGill tally minutes later, Harvard closed the first with a 3-1 lead.
Greiner was at it again early in the second, as the senior picked off a pass on a McGill power play and netted a breakaway look for a short-handed score just 1:25 into the frame. Jimmy Vesey was the third freshman to score on the evening, converting passes from Colin Blackwell (North Andover, Mass.) and Conor Morrison (London, Ont.) at 7:27 of the second period. Goalie Raphael Girard (Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.) finished with 17 saves and just one goal allowed in the win.
Against The Atlantic
Harvard will be facing a team from Atlantic Hockey for the first time since the 2010-11 season. The Crimson's last game against an Atlantic Hockey opponent came against Army Jan. 1 2011 in the first round of the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup. Army scored a pair of goals in the first period but Harvard responded with two each in the second and third to earn a 4-2 win. Alex Killorn netted the game-winner for Harvard and Luke Greiner added the insurance goal.
Last To Go
For the second straight season, Harvard is the last team in the nation to begin its season. The six Ivy League schools are all playing their first games this weekend due to league schedule restrictions. The other five Ivy schools are in action Friday.
Scouting the Falcons
Bentley will be playing its fourth game of the season, and second road contest, when it faces Harvard. The Falcons' season opener came at home against Sacred Heart Oct. 16, with the hosts earning a commanding 7-1 win. Three days later, the Falcons traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on the Wolverines and dropped a 6-3 decision. Bentley kicks off its weekend with a home game against Alabama Huntsville before taking on the Crimson.
Through two games, junior forward Brett Gensler has shown a nose for the net, posting six points on two goals and four assists. Sophomore Alex Grieve and junior Jared Rickord had a pair of goals apiece between the Michigan and Sacred Heart games. Junior goalie Branden Komm posted a .903 saver percentage through the first two contests, along with a 3.50 goals-against average.
The Falcons finished last season with a .500 record at 16-16-8. After posting a 3-9-1 record against a tough non-conference opponent slate, the Falcons turned it on in league play, compiling a 13-7-7 record against fellow Atlantic Hockey opponents. Bentley's opening round playoff series against Sacred Heart went three games, but a 5-0 win in the rubber match allowed the Falcons to advance to the league quarterfinals. Facing RIT on the road, Bentley stole Game 1 by a score of 4-1, but fell in the next two games, 5-4 in double overtime and 3-0, to finish its season.
The top seven scorers from last year's squad return in 2012-13, highlighted by junior forward Brett Gensler. Last season, Gensler led the team in points (50), goals (23) and assists (27). He was also the winner of the 60th Walter Brown Award, given to the best American-born hockey player in New England. It marked the first time a player from Bentley, or Atlantic Hockey, had won the award.
Highly Regarded Rookies
The septet of freshmen on the Harvard roster in 2012-13 has already received some positive attention. In a College Hockey News release prior to the start of the season, the Crimson recruiting class was ranked the best in ECAC Hockey. NHL draft picks Jimmy Vesey and Brian Hart highlight a group of five forwards, and a defenseman and a goalie round out the class. Vesey comes to Cambridge after setting an Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) scoring record last season, totaling 91 points in just 45 games with the South Shore Kings.
The 2012-13 ECAC Hockey Media Association Preseason Poll featured Harvard at the third position, and the second-highest Ivy League team in the poll. Defending champion Union received 18 of 30 first-place votes, edging Cornell for the top spot in the poll.
1. Union (18) 343
2. Cornell (11) 330
3. Harvard 293
4. Quinnipiac 246
5. Yale (1) 236
6. St. Lawrence 159
7. Clarkson 155
8. Colgate 148
9. Rensselaer 144
10. Dartmouth 140
11. Princeton 108
12. Brown 41
The Crimson also had a presence on the preseason all-conference team as senior captain Danny Biega was picked as one of two defensemen on the team. It represents the defenseman's second straight appearance on the preseason all-conference team and the fourth time in the past five years that a defenseman from the Biega family has earned ECAC preseason honors. Older brother Alex Biega '10 was a preseason pick in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
There was a definite Crimson presence at the 2012 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp August 4-11 in Lake Placid, N.Y. Colin Blackwell, Jimmy Vesey and Brian Hart all skated at the event, and Blackwell was one of the leading scorers during intrasquad play.
First Time Foe
With the Bentley-Harvard game being the first ever meeting between the two teams, it marks the first time in four years that Harvard will face a first-time opponent. The previous first-time matchup for Harvard came at the start of the 2008-09 season, when the Crimson dropped a 4-1 decision to Alabama Huntsville at the Badger Hockey Showdown.
All Tied Up
It was a record-breaking season for Harvard last year, in that the Crimson set the NCAA record for most ties in a single season. The previous record had been 10, accomplished by Minnesota State (2002-03), Colorado College (2008-09) and Western Michigan (2010-11). Harvard's eight league ties also broke an ECAC mark, previously held by Yale (1991-92), Dartmouth (2003-04) and Quinnipiac (2010-11).