No. 20 Men's Hockey Travels To Merrimack For Friday Non-Conference Tilt

No. 20 Men's Hockey Travels To Merrimack For Friday Non-Conference Tilt

Harvard will face its first of three straight Hockey East opponents Friday (Photo: Justine Agaloos).

Complete Game Notes (.pdf)

Jimmy Vesey Named to U.S. Junior National Preliminary Roster

The Matchup
After an extended Thanksgiving break, the No. 20/- Harvard men's hockey team is back in action for the first time since Nov. 17 as it takes on Merrimack Friday in a non-conference showdown. The game against the Warriors is the first of three straight games against Hockey East opponents for the Crimson. It is also Harvard's second televised contest in its last three games.

Watch From Home
The Harvard-Merrimack matchup will be broadcast on WBIN-TV. The network reaches nearly 2.5 million viewers in New England. Information about WBIN-TV can be found here.

Top Plays introduced a new video feature to its lineup for the 2012-13 season, "Top Plays of the Month," counting down the greatest moments from your favorite Crimson student-athletes and teams from the previous calendar month. Use the hashtag #CrimsonTop10 to nominate your favorite plays for inclusion. November's top plays featured Kyle Criscuolo's goal in a 4-1 upset of No. 10 Cornell at No. 5.

The Top Plays from November can be seen here.

Harvard vs. Merrimack History
The Crimson and Warriors played their first contest Dec. 23, 2004 in the third-place game of the Dodge Holiday Classic. Goals from Matt Johnson and Scott Drewicki gave Merrimack a 2-0 edge early in the second period, but Dylan Reese '07 brought Harvard within one with 7:28 gone in the second stanza. Mike Fournier and Mike Alexiou scored goals for the Warriors to push the lead to 4-1 in the third and even with goals from Dave Watters '08, Tyler Magura '08 and Andrew Lederman '05, the Crimson took a 6-4 loss. Harvard outshot Merrimack 40-19 in the contest, but the Warriors converted four of their five power plays while keeping the Crimson quiet on its four chances.

The teams met for their second-ever matchup six years later at Bright Hockey Center, and the Warriors scored first on a Brandon Brodhag power-play tally late in the second period. Stephane Da Costa made it 2-0 Merrimack at 8:34 of the third, but Alex Killorn '12 cut the deficit in half with a goal just over a minute later. The Crimson was unable to put home the equalizer in the home stretch of the third and an empty-net goal from Karl Stollery sealed the 3-1 final for the guests.    

Scouting The Warriors
Merrimack will be skating in its 15th game of the 2012-13 season and enters the contest with the Crimson with a 5-7-2 overall record. A signature 4-1 victory over No. 5 Union in the season opener was quelled by three straight road losses, including two games in the Alaska Gold Rush tournament. Merrimack rebounded by winning three of its next four, including both ends of a home-and-home with Northeastern Nov. 2-3. Merrimack enters the Harvard game on the heels of a five-game winless streak, but in its most recent game, the Warriors picked up a 2-1 road victory over Providence.

Junior forward Mike Collins has been the sparkplug for the Merrimack offense this season, leading the team in goals (7), assists (10) and points (17) through 14 games. Jordan Heywood and Josh Myers are tied for second with four goals and four assists each, and Dan Kolomatis and Connor Toomey also have eight points each on a pair of goals and six helpers. The Warriors have utilized a two-goalie system so far this season with Rasmus Tirronen and Sam Marotta both logging seven starts in net. The two netminders have identical save percentages (.913) while Tirronen has the slight edge in goals-against average at 2.40, compared to Marotta's 2.71 mark.   

Meaningful Month
Freshman forward Jimmy Vesey got off to a stellar start in his first full month of action, earning Hogan Hockey/ECAC Rookie of the Month honors for November. It is Vesey's third league award of the 2012-13 season as he has claimed a pair of rookie of the week honors already this year. The award marks the first time a Harvard player has taken home the honor since sophomore Patrick McNally was named rookie of the month for December 2011.

Vesey led all Harvard players in the month of November with five points on three goals and two assists. He ended the month ranked seventh in the nation and fourth in ECAC Hockey in goals per game (0.71) and he also ranked third in the nation and first in the league in points per game among rookies (1.14). His two unassisted goals against Rensselaer Nov. 10 helped him claim his second rookie of the week award, and he capped his November with an assist in a 4-1 upset of No. 10 Cornell on the road.

National Pride
On the same day he received ECAC Rookie of the Month honors, Jimmy Vesey was also named to the U.S. Junior National preliminary roster. Vesey is one of three representatives from ECAC Hockey to make the preliminary squad.

The 27-player preliminary roster will attend a training camp Dec. 16-18 at the New York Rangers' Madison Square Garden Training Center in Tarrytown, N.Y., with an additional camp being held days later in Helsinki, Finland. The final roster will be comprised of 23 players and will be finalized Dec. 23. The squad is set to compete in the IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2012- Jan. 5, 2013 in Ufa, Russia.  

Consider It Killed
The Harvard penalty kill unit, which ended the 2011-12 season on a hot streak, has been stellar through seven games this season. With 23 of 25 (92.0%) penalties killed this season, Harvard ranks fourth in the nation and third in the ECAC in penalty killing.

Harvard was equal to the challenge posed by Bentley, killing all five power-play chances the Falcons earned in the game. Harvard also went 3 for 3 against Brown and killed three of four penalties against Yale. Harvard went 3 for 4 on the penalty kill against Union and stopped all three power-play chances against RPI. The Crimson kept the Cornell and Colgate power plays silent in its last weekend of action.

In the quarterfinal series against Yale last season, Harvard killed 17 of 18 penalties, including an 11-for-11 showing in Game 2 of the series. Harvard went on to hold Cornell (0-for-2) and Union (0-for-3) without a power-play goal in the ECAC Tournament semifinal and final rounds. Harvard has killed 45 of its last 48 penalties and held eight of its last ten opponents without a power-play goal, dating back to last season.

Senior Danny Biega, the 120th captain of the Harvard men's hockey team, is a candidate for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award. He is Harvard hockey's second-ever candidate for the award, and first since Brian McCafferty '09 was a candidate in 2009. Biega is one of 20 candidates and the award winner will be selected during the NCAA Frozen Four April 11-13 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Biega is coming off his most prolific year in Cambridge. In 2011-12, Biega received CCM Hockey first team All-America honors, was a runner-up for ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and was the named the league's Best Defensive Defenseman. He was named to the ECAC Hockey Championship All-Tournament team and All-Ivy League first team  and ranked second in the nation in points per game among defensemen (1.03).

Flurry of Firsts
The 4-1 upset victory over No. 10 Cornell featured a number of firsts for the Crimson squad. Mike Seward's game-winning tally was his first of the season, and Petr Placek's goal was his first collegiate score. Greg Gozzo picked up his first collegiate point on an assist and Dan Ford and Conor Morrison registered their first points of the year on an assist each.

Vesey Legacy
Freshman Jimmy Vesey's father Jim Vesey was a highly decorated collegiate hockey player at Merrimack in the late 80's. Jim Vesey is Merrimack's all-time leading scorer, totaling 244 points (110 goals, 134 assists) in 140 career games played. He was a three-time All-American (1986, 1987 and 1988) and a two-time team MVP.  

Climbing The Ranks
Junior goalie Raphael Girard has been a key to Harvard's success this year, and his numbers have progressively climbed the national rankings over the first seven games. His two shutouts are tied for fifth in the nation and his .936 save percentage is eighth nationally and first among ECAC goalies. He also ranks 16th nationally with a 2.06 goals-against average.

First of Many
Freshman Brian Hart, a second-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, collected his first collegiate goal in Harvard's 4-0 shutout of Rensselaer Nov. 10. Hart is the third player in Harvard's highly-touted freshman class to score a goal this season.

Helping Hand
Sophomore forward Tommy O'Regan has logged an assist in five of his last six games. He recorded the longest point streak of the 2012-13 for the Crimson, notching an assist in five straight contests from Nov. 2 to Nov. 16. The five-game point streak also marks a career long for O'Regan.   

Three in a Row
After Jimmy Vesey took home league Rookie of the Week honors Oct. 30, Harvard's first week of action, classmate Kyle Criscuolo (Southampton, N.J.) made it two in a row for the Crimson, earning the honor for the week of Nov. 6. Criscuolo had a pair of goals and an assist and finished +3 in Harvard's ECAC and Ivy opening weekend, as the Crimson captured a 3-2 win over Brown and fell to Yale, 5-1.

Vesey extended the streak to three for Harvard, and two out of three for himself, when he earned Rookie of the Week honors for the week of Nov. 13. Vesey got Harvard on the board in a tough, 6-2, loss to then-No. 8/7 Union Nov. 9 and helped the Crimson rebound with a pair of unassisted goals in a 4-0 blanking of Rensselaer a night later.         Harvard has now had a player take home league Rookie of the Week honors in all but one week the team has been eligible this season.