The Opening Faceoff
The Harvard men's hockey team will open the 2015-16 season this weekend, taking on ECAC Hockey foe Dartmouth in a home-and-home series. The year gets underway in Hanover, New Hampshire Saturday, Oct. 31 with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop at Thompson Arena with the teams returning to Cambridge for a Sunday evening affair at Bright-Landry Hockey Center at 7 p.m.
The First Line
• Harvard captured the ninth ECAC Hockey Tournament title in program history in 2015, downing Colgate in the finals, 4-2. Jimmy Vesey netted a pair of goals in the win, with Patrick McNally and Colin Blackwell also finding the back of the mesh.
• The ECAC Tournament title and subsequent trip to the NCAA Tournament were the first for the Crimson since 2006. Harvard met Nebraska-Omaha in the West Regional hosted by Notre Dame, falling to the Mavericks, 4-1.
• The coaches of the ECAC voted Harvard as its preseason pick to win the league, the first such time that the Crimson has been atop either the coaches' or media poll in the ECAC since 2003-04. The media that voted in the poll picked the Crimson to finish third behind Yale and Quinnipiac.
• Senior Forward Jimmy Vesey was selected to the ECAC coaches' and media preseason all-conference team. He was also selected to the College Hockey News preseason All-America first team. The honors come a year after Vesey was a Hobey Baker Award finalist, the Walter Brown Award Winner, a CCM Hockey East First Team All-American and the ECAC and Ivy League Player of the Year.
This weekend's games mark the beginning of the season for the Big Green as well. In the preseason, Dartmouth dropped an exhibition game to the USNDTDP, 5-4, but bounced back with a 7-0 blanking of Prince Edward.
Dartmouth, which reached the ECAC Quarterfinals last season where it was swept by Colgate, has a number of spaces to fill on its top lines with the graduation of its top-three scorers from 2014-15. Eric Neiley, Tyler Sikura and Eric Robinson have all departed from the Big Green after having accounted for 77 points (30.6 percent of the scoring) last season.
Senior Brad Schierhorn and junior Grant Opperman are the top returners for the Big Green with 22 and 19 points, respectively. In net, senior James Kruger also returns to Hanover for his final year. Kruger managed a .926 save mark and a 1.98 GAA last season. Six freshmen join the Dartmouth roster in 2015-16 in the form of three forwards and three defensemen.
The series between Dartmouth and Harvard is one of the oldest in college hockey, dating back to Feb. 7, 1907. The Crimson won the first eight meetings of the series from 1907-14, setting the stage for its current 129-64-13 advantage. In the last three meetings, Harvard has posted a 2-0-1 record against the Big Green, highlighted by its 2-0 victory at Thompson Arena in the most recent meeting Nov. 18, 2014. Harvard's longest win streak in the all-time series spanned from Nov. 24, 1981 until Dec. 18, 1992 when it won 23 straight contests.
Season Opener Info
The Crimson boasts an 82-29-4 all-time record in official season-opening games, including a team-record 18 straight wins from 1922-39. Since the unveiling of Bright-Landry Hockey Center in 1979, the Crimson has compiled a 22-12-2 record in home openers and a 6-4-1 mark under head coach Ted Donato.
Last season marked the 11th time since 1941 the Crimson opened the year against the Big Green and marked the first time that the game ended in a tie. With last year's 3-3 decision, Harvard is 6-4-1 against Dartmouth in season openers.
Saturday's opener at Dartmouth marks the first time since the 2009-10 season that the Crimson will start the year away from Bright-Landry Hockey Center. That season, Harvard began the year at Dartmouth with a 5-3 victory. In the five years since, the Crimson is 2-2-1 in its openers.
Returning co-captain Kyle Criscuolo provided a team-best 31 assists in 2014-15. He is the first Crimson skater with at least 30 assists in a season since Tim Pettit in 2002-03.
Whitelaw Returns to Cambridge
The Whitelaw Cup, awarded to the ECAC Tournament champion, was raised by Harvard Saturday, March 21, 2015 for the ninth time in the history of Crimson hockey. Harvard last won the ECAC championship in 2006, the second year with head coach Ted Donato behind the bench.
The Harvard offense will seem familiar to Crimson fans, and for good reason. Of 121 goals last season, student-athletes that accounted for 106 of those return this season. This includes the Crimson's top line of Jimmy Vesey (32), Kyle Criscuolo (17) and Alexander Kerfoot (8) who accounted for 57 goals in 2014-15.
Most Returning Goals: (Entering 2015-16)
UMass Lowell – 117
Minnesota State – 107
Harvard – 106
Bowling Green – 103
Michigan Tech – 99
Boston University – 99
Omaha – 96
Minnesota Duluth – 94
Quinnipiac – 94
Robert Morris – 93
Most Returning Points:
UMass Lowell – 297
Harvard – 271
Michigan Tech – 266
Boston University – 264
Minnesota State – 262
Minnesota Duluth – 255
Omaha – 254
Michigan – 250
Northeastern – 249
Robert Morris – 245
Highest Percentage of Returning Goals:
Omaha – 91.4%
Holy Cross – 89.3%
Merrimack – 88.9%
Quinnipiac – 88.7%
Harvard – 87.6%
UMass Lowell – 87.3%
Bowling Green – 86.6%
Yale – 86.0%
Ferris State – 83.0%
Minnesota Duluth – 81.7%
Highest Percentage of Returning Points:
Omaha – 90.1%
Yale – 88.5%
Holy Cross – 87.5%
Clarkson – 86.9%
Minnesota Duluth 85.0%
Harvard – 84.7%
UMass Lowell – 84.1%
Army – 81.3%
Northeastern – 81.1%
Ferris State 80.4%
40-40 Captains Club
The senior co-captains and linemates provided quite the 1-2 punch for the Crimson as juniors. With Vesey posting 58 points and Criscuolo tallying 48, the 2014-15 campaign marked the first time since 2002-03 that Harvard has had two 40-point scorers in one year. That season saw three players reach the mark (Dominic Moore-51, Tim Pettit-47 and Brett Nowak-41).
Harvard adds seven freshmen to its roster this season. The newcomers represent three forwards, three defensemen and one netminder. The defensemen are Adam Baughman, Viktor Dombrovskiy and Jacob Olson. The forwards are Ryan Donato, Michael Floodstrand and Lewis Zerter-Gossage. Michael Lackey joins the Crimson as a goaltender.
Seniors Kyle Criscuolo and Jimmy Vesey will wear the 'C' this season for the Crimson. A year ago, Criscuolo became the first junior captain for the Crimson since William Ayers '47 wore the 'C' in 1945-46. Criscuolo joins a prestigious group of Harvard hockey players as he is just the fourth-ever two-time captain since the Crimson first took the ice in 1897. George Owen, Jr. '23 was the last two-time captain for Harvard in 1921-22 and 1922-23, with John E.P. Morgan '17 (1915-16, 1916-17) and William S. Beardsell '00 (1898-00, 1899-00) preceding him.
Vesey takes on greater leadership duties this season after putting together one of the most prolific offensive seasons in recent Harvard history last year. The Hobey Baker Award finalist and Walter Brown Award winner led the nation with 32 goals and finished third with 58 points.
This season marks just the eighth in program history that the Crimson will be represented by co-captains.
About the Ivy League Digital Network
The Ivy League Digital Network returns for a third season as the home for all live streaming and on-demand video content for each of the conference's eight institutions. Broadcast in full HD and featuring multiple camera angles, replay, and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League Digital Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight.
Multiple subscription options are available to fans, including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Digital Network or to sign-up today, click here.
Harvard is proud to announce the addition of closed captioning for men's and women's hockey to make its Ivy League Digital Network broadcasts of those two teams accessible to all.
Closed captioning for the Crimson's hockey programs will be available on desktop and mobile devices. The service is provided by Vitac (vitac.com).