ECAC Hockey Semifinal Showdown Set Between No. 17/15 Men's Hockey and No. 7/7 Quinnipiac

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No. 17/15 Harvard at No. 7/7 Quinnipiac
Friday, March 20
4:07 p.m.
1980 Herb Brooks Arena
Fox College Sports
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Eric Frede, Cap Raeder, Gabrielle Lucivero
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Savanna Arral, Matt Clarida
Harvard | Quinnipiac

Luke Esposito and the Crimson head to Lake Placid for the ECAC Hockey semifinals Friday afternoon (Gil Talbot).

The Storyline
The No. 17/15 Harvard men's hockey team makes its triumphant return to Lake Placid, New York Friday, March 20, taking on No. 7/7 Quinnipiac in the semifinals of the 2015 ECAC Hockey playoffs. The winner of Friday's game advances to take on the winner of the second semifinal between St. Lawrence and Colgate. The championship game is slated for Saturday, March 21 at 7:37 p.m. All three games will be shown live on Fox College Sports.

Harvard advanced to the semifinals after winning a historic three-game quarterfinal series over archrival Yale. The Crimson took game one, 3-2, and Yale won the second game, 2-0, setting up a winner-advance game three. Trailing 2-1 late in the third period, Patrick McNally scored his first goal since November 21 to send the game to overtime. Harvard and Yale would battle for 36:46 longer, setting a new record for longest game in program history (96:46), before Jimmy Vesey buried a rebound to send the Crimson to Lake Placid.

ECAC Playoff History
• Harvard is making its sixth appearances in the semifinals since the ECAC instituted the first round games for the 2003 tournament. This is just the second time Harvard has reached the last four standing having played in the first round. In 2004, the Crimson went on a 6-0 run beginning with a first round sweep of Vermont and concluding with a 4-2 victory over Clarkson in the title game. Harvard's 2004 championship also represents just one of two times since 2003 that a team playing in the first round of the ECAC Tournament went on to win the championship. St. Lawrence in 2010 was the most recent team to accomplish that feat.

• Harvard has been crowned the ECAC Champion on eight occasions, most recently in 2006 when it defeated Cornell, 6-2. Quinnipiac is yet to win an ECAC tournament title since joining the conference in 2005. The Bobcats have reached the semifinals three times, including each of the last two seasons. 

• Since 2002, Harvard has played in the ECAC Championship game seven times, winning four of those games. The Crimson won titles in 2002, 2004 and 2006, and finished second in 2003, 2005, 2008 and most recently in 2012. The seven appearances in the finals matches Cornell for the most since 2002. Union is next in line with four appearances that includes winning the three most recent tournament titles.

• Harvard has been the six seed in the ECAC Tournament three times, 1990, 1996 and 2004. The Crimson was ousted in the quarterfinals in 1990 and fell in the finals to Cornell, 2-1, in 1996, but in 2004 Harvard went on a 6-0 run through the tournament, culminating in a 4-2 victory over Clarkson. 

Season Series vs. Quinnipiac
The visiting team has come away the victor in both meetings this season between the Crimson and Bobcats. Back in December, Steve Michalek turned away 43 shots in Hamden, Connecticut and extended Harvard's win streak to six games in a 5-2 victory. Five different Crimson found the back of the bet in the win. The 5-2 score prevailed again in the second meeting, but this time it was Quinnipiac on the winning end. The Bobcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and held off the Crimson for the win.

Series History: Quinnipiac
The series history against Quinnipiac dates back just less than a decade to the first meeting on Nov. 4, 2005.  Meeting in Hartford, Connecticut, the Bobcats got the best of the Crimson in the first meeting, 5-2, but since then Harvard has played its way to a 10-9-4 advantage all-time. 
Over the last five meetings, the series is even at 2-2-1. Prior to Harvard's victory in December, the Crimson had last defeated Quinnipiac on March 1, 2013 in overtime, 2-1, at Bright-Landry.

Scouting the Bobcats
Sam Anas paces the top-seeded Bobcats with 40 points on 23 goals and 17 helpers. Anas has been destructive on the power play, tallying nine man-advantage goals. Offensive support comes from Matthew Peca, Travis St. Denis and Landon Smith, all 30-point scorers. Peca enters the semifinals with a team-best 28 assists.

Michael Garteig anchors the backline, posting the 10th-lowest GAA in the nation at 1.97. Five of his 22 wins have come via shutout and his .712 (22-8-3) win percentage ranks seventh nationally.

About Quinnipiac
Quinnipiac earned its second Cleary Cup in the last three years, finishing the regular season with 35 points, six more than second-place St. Lawrence. 

After having a bye in the opening round, the Bobcats hosted Union in a quarterfinal series that  lasted three games. The series-opener lasted three overtime periods before Alex Barron netted the game-winner for the Bobcats. Union came back and won game two, 3-2, but Quinnipiac finished the series off with a 3-1 victory Sunday evening.

Recapping the Quarterfinals
Tied 2-2 with under three minutes left in regulation, Harvard's top line led a breakaway that ended with Alexander Kerfoot setting up Jimmy Vesey for the game-winning blast to give the 18th-ranked Crimson a one-game edge on its archrival, No. 12 Yale, in the best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal matchup. The victory snapped a 10-game winless streak to Yale, and marked the first time since Jan. 29, 2005 the Crimson came away the winning team at Ingalls Rink.

The No. 18 Harvard men's hockey team battled fiercely Saturday night, ringing a pair of late scoring opportunities off the posts, but No. 12/12 Yale held on for the 2-0 victory Saturday at Ingalls Rink. With the win, Yale forced a series-deciding game three Sunday on its home ice. Steve Michalek allowed just one goal on the night, making 20 stops. His fellow netminder across the ice, Alex Lyon, made 24 saves in the shutout effort.

The longest game in Harvard hockey history ended in jubilant fashion, as Jimmy Vesey buried a rebound at 16:46 of the second overtime to give the No. 18 Crimson a 3-2 win over Yale (18-9-5, 12-6-4) in the decisive game three of the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals series at Ingalls Rink Sunday night. With the win, Harvard (19-12-3, 11-8-3 ECAC) advances to the semifinals to play Quinnipiac in Lake Placid at Herb Brooks Arena at 4:07 p.m. Friday, March 20.

Nearing the end of the second overtime, Yale killed off a Cody Learned penalty to return to even strength, but an icing call brought the play back into the Yale zone. Alexander Kerfoot won the draw and pulled it back to Patrick McNally at the left point. McNally, who had the game-tying goal late in regulation, sent a shot towards the net that bounced off Yale goaltender Alex Lyon and landed on the stick of Jimmy Vesey who buried it inside the left post. The goal gives Vesey 27 this year, most among all skaters in NCAA Division I hockey. Sunday's game lasted 96:46, eclipsing the previous school record of 96:11 that was set during Harvard's 2002 ECAC Championship victory over Cornell. It goes down as the 27th longest game in college hockey history. Steve Michalek was in goal for the entire game for Harvard, making 40 saves to earn his 19th win of the year. That is the most wins for a Harvard netminder since John Daigneau went 19-10-2 in 2005-06.

Playoff Sweep
The Crimson bulldozed past Brown in the first round of the 2015 ECAC playoffs, sweeping the Bears by scores of 6-2 and 4-3. The series win was the first since Harvard beat Yale in three games in the 2012 quarterfinals, and marked the first series sweep since Harvard dispatched of Clarkson in two games of the 2011 ECAC playoffs first round.

Vesey Goes For 50
It had been 12 years since Harvard had a skater reach the 50-point plateau, but junior forward Jimmy Vesey changed all that Saturday, March 7. With his assist on Brian Hart's goal in the first period, Vesey brought his scoring total to 25 goals and 25 assists on the season. The last player to go over 50 points was Dominic Moore '03 in 2002-03. Vesey added three points on two goals and an assist in the Yale series to bring his season total to 53. That number is the most since Steve Martins accumulated 60 points in the 1993-94 season.

Just Keep Going
Fans at Ingalls Rink Sunday March 15 were treated to 36:46 of extra hockey, as it took Harvard until 16:46 of the second overtime to score the game-winner to defeat Yale in the ECAC Quarterfinals. The game was the longest ever in Harvard history at 96:46 and the 27th longest game in Division I college hockey history.

Bulldog Off The Back
Harvard's game one victory in the ECAC quarterfinals against Yale shook off a few unfavorable streaks that had been following the Crimson. The win snapped a 10-game winless streak that dated back to the 2012 ECAC playoffs and also marked the first Harvard win at Ingalls Rink since Jan. 29, 2005.

As If He Were Never Gone
Prior to going down with an injury on Jan. 23 at Cornell, Patrick McNally had been among the nation's top point-scoring defensemen. The senior missed the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the ECAC tournament before returning to the lineup in the quarterfinals at Yale. McNally made a dramatic impression back in game three of the series at Yale, scoring the game-tying goal late in the third period and then assisted on the game-winner in double overtime. In 18 games played, he has 18 points (5G, 13A).

Chasing the Record Book
Goaltender Steve Michalek is putting his name among the elite goalies in Harvard history. With 954 saves this season, he ranks second for stops in a season. The Harvard record for saves in a season stands at 1,021 set by Oliver Jones '01 in 2000-01. In his career, he has 2,016 saves, becoming just the seventh player in Harvard history to record 2,000 saves in a career. Michalek's 40-save performance Sunday, March 15 at Yale gave him his 19th win of the season, tying him for third for most wins in a season. It marks just the 10th time ever a Crimson goaltender has had 19 wins in a season and most recent since John Daigneau '06 in 2005-06. With a start on Friday night, he will take over the top spot for starts in a season with 35.

Second-year Standouts
Sophomores Alexander Kerfoot, Tyler Moy, Luke Esposito and Sean Malone each have double-digit point totals this season. Moy is fourth on the team with 25 points, Kerfoot is third with 26 points, while Esposito and Malone have 17. Moy has excelled on special teams, scoring three times on the power play and once short-handed. Each is stellar in the faceoff circle as well. Moy leads the way with 238 face-off wins, while the other three have all won over 150 this season.

Winning Ways
Harvard enters the semifinals with 19 wins this year, the highest total since 2007-08 when it finished with 17. The Crimson will be seeking to reach the 20-win mark for the first time since 2005-06 when it won 21 games.