Homestand Continues For Men's Hockey With St. Lawrence, No. 16/15 Clarkson

Homestand Continues For Men's Hockey With St. Lawrence, No. 16/15 Clarkson

Dan Ford has helped the Crimson kill 12 of 13 penalties so far this season (Gil Talbot).

Complete Game Notes

Highlights: Girard Shuts Out No. 10 Rensselaer, 2-0

Highlights: Harvard Drops 4-2 Decision to Union

The Storyline

The four-game homestand concludes for the Harvard men's hockey team, as the Crimson hosts ECAC Hockey foes St. Lawrence and No. 16/15 Clarkson this weekend at the Bright Landry Hockey Center. This weekend represents the second straight weekend, and third time this season, that Harvard will face a nationally-ranked opponent.    

• Harvard has played three games at home this season and boasts a 2-1-0 record at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.   

• The Crimson is three games into its conference schedule, with a 1-1-1 record in ECAC action. Harvard currently stands in a tie for third in the conference standings with three league points.  

• Senior goalie Raphael Girard has posted shutouts in both games he has played this year. In the season opener, Girard stopped 43 shots to blank Bentley, 3-0, and he picked up 28 saves in a 2-0 shutout over No. 10 Rensselaer. He became the first Harvard goalie since Kyle Richter '10-11 in 2007 to record consecutive clean sheets.    

• Last Friday's 2-0 win over No. 10 Rensselaer marked the first time since March 1, 2013 that Harvard had knocked off a ranked team. The Crimson took down No. 1 Quinnipiac, 2-1 in overtime, in the penultimate game of the 2012-13 regular season.   

• Junior forward Ryan McGregor collected his first collegiate goal in last Saturday's 4-2 loss to Union. McGregor won a faceoff in the offensive zone and fired the puck home for an unassisted tally.  

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Series History vs. St. Lawrence
Friday's matchup between the Crimson and Saints will be the 101st meeting between the two teams. Harvard holds a 53-41-6 lead in the all-time series. 1954 was the inaugural year of the Harvard-St. Lawrence series and the Crimson won the initial two matchups, the first being a 3-2 overtime victory at Boston Arena. The series has leveled off in recent history, with the teams splitting the last six contests and the Saints riding a two-game win streak.  

About The Saints
Like most of the non-Ivy teams, the Saints have seen significantly more action than the Crimson, entering Friday's contest with a 4-2-2 record. Three straight wins (two against Maine, one at Ferris State) to start the season got the Saints off on the right foot and a 6-4 win over Northeastern put the win total at four. St. Lawrence opened league play on the road last weekend, posting identical 3-3 finals at Yale and Brown.

Scouting St. Lawrence
Brothers Greg and Matt Carey are leading the way for the Saints in terms of scoring this season, with older brother Greg holding the team points lead (4-9-13) as well as the top assists total. Freshman Matt is the team leader in goals with five, and is three points off Greg's pace with 5-5-10 on the year. Gavin Bayreuther and Jeremy Wick have also chipped in on offense with identical 3-5-8 lines through eight games. The St. Lawrence power play is one of its biggest weapons, as it ranks fifth in the nation at 28.6 % (10/35).

Senior Matt Weninger has received the most playing time in goal for St. Lawrence, but Tyler Parks has seen action in a pair of games as well. Weninger holds the slightly better numbers with a 3.02 goals-against average and .897 save percentage.   

Last Season vs. The Saints
St. Lawrence showed it had Harvard's number last season, scoring four goals each in a pair of victories over the Crimson.

Two first period goals jolted the Saints out to a lead in Cambridge, but Jimmy Vesey's power-play marker cut the lead to 2-1 after one. Vesey struck again just 11 seconds into the second to tie the score, but Jeremy Wick's man-up score swung the lead back to St. Lawrence. Alex Fallstrom '13 managed a goal late in the second, and regulation ended in a 3-3 tie. With just 1:23 left in the extra frame, George Hughes showed the touch on the game-winning goal for St. Lawrence.

The contest at Appleton started well for the Crimson, with Marshall Everson '13 striking on a first-period power play and Jimmy Vesey pushing the Crimson lead to 2-1 into the third period. Hughes tied the game at 2-2 on the power play, and Greg Carey scored the game-winner just 12 seconds later. Patrick Doherty added an insurance goal to seal the 4-2 final.   

Series History vs. Clarkson
Neither Clarkson nor Harvard has been able to pull away in the all-time series, as the record stands even at 51-51-11 through 113 career matchups. The teams first played in 1935; a three-game series leading up to the New Year that resulted in the teams splitting the first two and tying the rubber match. Recent history has favored the Crimson, with Harvard collecting six victories in the last seven meetings. The Crimson has won its last four games played at Cheel Arena and two of its last three played in Cambridge.    

About The Knights
The surprise ECAC team of the early season, Clarkson has put together an impressive 7-2-1 record heading into the weekend, despite being picked to finish last in the ECAC Preseason Media Poll. Clarkson opened the season with a pair of wins at Niagara, and went 1-1 at the Minnesota Ice Breaker Tournament, falling to New Hampshire, 4-1, and downing Mercyhurst, 5-2. A six-game unbeaten streak ensued, highlighted by two one-goal wins over Colorado College at Cheel Arena. Clarkson split games with Brown and Yale to open its ECAC schedule, and will square off against Dartmouth Friday before facing the Crimson.     

Scouting Clarkson
Ben Sexton leads the way in scoring for the Knights, posting team-high totals of nine points and eight assists. Allan McPherson is next in line with eight points, and shares the team lead in goals (four) with Joe Zarbo. The team is balanced both on the penalty kill and the power play, entering the weekend as the 15th-ranked team in the nation in special teams. Clarkson also boasts the eighth-best scoring defense in the nation at 2.10 goals per game, and the sixth-best winning percentage at .750 (7-2-1).    

A goalie platoon has worked well for Clarkson in the early going, as Steve Perry and Greg Lewis have nearly identical numbers. Both goalies have made five starts and both hold impressive .925 save percentages. Perry holds the slight lead in goals-against average at 1.94 to Lewis' 2.00.    

Last Season vs. The Knights
Last season's series between the Crimson and Knights featured a pair of decisive road victories. Clarkson came to Cambridge Jan. 25, and after Jimmy Vesey gave Harvard a 1-0 lead heading into the second period, Clarkson exploded for five goals in a 5-1 win. Joe Zarbo netted the game-winner for the Knights late in the second period, and potted two third-period tallies to complete the hat trick.

Harvard had the last laugh, however, grabbing its own four-goal victory a month later in Potsdam, N.Y. Ben Sexton put Clarkson up 1-0 just past the five minute mark, but Harvard responded with three straight scores, two from Kyle Criscuolo and another from Greg Gozzo. After Clarkson closed the gap to 3-2, the Crimson pulled away in the third on the strength of markers from Conor Morrison '13, Brayden Jaw and a second from Gozzo. Peter Traber made 29 saves in net to earn his second collegiate victory.

Brick Wall
Opponents have yet to figure out senior goalie Raphael Girard, who has posted shutouts in both starts this season. He is the only goalie in the nation with a perfect 0.00 goals-against average and 1.000 save percentage, and leads all netminders with two shutouts on the season.

Applying Limits
Allowing just 1.75 goals per game, the Harvard defense enters the weekend ranked tied for third in the nation. The Crimson has conceded just seven goals through four games this season. That mark is second among all ECAC teams, with Quinnipiac leading the nation at 1.56 goals allowed per game (14 goals in nine games).
Staying Out Of Trouble
The Crimson has done well so far this season of not hindering itself with an abundance of penalties. Harvard is averaging just eight penalty minutes per game, good for the third-lowest average nationally. Only Rensselaer (7.5 penalty minutes per game) is ahead of Harvard among ECAC squads.  

Block N' Roll
A big reason for Harvard's defensive success this season has been its penchant for blocking shots. The Crimson has recorded more blocks than its opponent in every game so far this season, reaching the 15 blocks mark in all four contests. In Harvard's 2-0 shutout of No. 10 Rensselaer, the Crimson blocked 29 shots, compared to RPI's 12. The 29 blocked shots represented the most in a game for a Harvard team since March 12, 2011, when the Crimson amassed 34 blocks in a 2-1 loss to Dartmouth in the ECAC Championship quarterfinals.

Rookie defenseman Kevin Guiltinan leads all Harvard players with 14 blocked shots, followed by sophomore Desmond Bergin (12) and senior captain Dan Ford (eight). On the season, Harvard has blocked 76 shots to its opponents' 48.

Consider It Killed
Penalty killing has been a strength for Harvard this season, as it enters the weekend with the sixth-ranked penalty kill in the nation (92.3%, 12/13). Only Princeton (93.8 %, 15/16) and Quinnipiac (93.5%, 43/46) have better marks in the ECAC.
Young Guns
The freshman class has made a significant impact for Harvard through just two games this season. Rookie forwards Alexander Kerfoot (1-1-2) and Sean Malone (0-2-2) have two points each, while defenseman Kevin Guiltinan (0-2-2) picked up two helpers in the tie at RPI and Luke Esposito picked up an assist vs. Union.  

All but three of Harvard's goals and assists this season have come from underclassmen, as junior Tommy O'Regan netted the game-winning strike against Bentley Oct. 26, and Ryan McGregor scored Harvard's second goal against Union Nov. 2.