Harvard beat No. 18 Notre Dame and Rensselaer to win the Shillelagh Tournament (Harvard Athletic Communications).
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – No. 8/8 Harvard men's hockey skated off the ice at Compton Family Ice Arena Saturday evening the 2015 Shillelagh Tournament champions following its dominant 4-0 shutout of Rensselaer. Sophomore goaltender Merrick Madsen made 59-of-60 saves over the course of two games in the tournament, including his third shutout of the season Saturday, to earn Tournament MVP honors. Joining him on the all-tournament team was Kyle Criscuolo, Alexander Kerfoot, Jimmy Vesey and Victor Newell.
With the victory over the Engineers, Harvard moves to 6-1-1 on the year, marking the first time since 2005-06 that the Crimson has six victories in its first eight games of a season. The loss for Rensselaer snaps a nine-game unbeaten streak it had been on. Madsen improves to 5-0-0 in net after making 31 stops to blank the Engineers. Criscuolo finished the tournament with three goals and an assist, while Kerfoot racked up four helpers on the weekend.
Game play tilted in Rensselaer's favor early, as it went on the power play twice in the first eight minutes, but Harvard's penalty kill unit was successful both times in keeping the Engineers off the board. Harvard's offense began to generate more opportunities midway through the period and put the first goal on the board at 14:44. The play started when Wiley Sherman was able to keep a Notre Dame clear attempt along the boards in the zone, cycling it back down low to Alexander Kerfoot. Kerfoot continued the puck along to Kyle Criscuolo, who found Vesey out in front for the tally.
Harvard's momentum carried over into the second period where it found the back of the net on three occasions. Luke Esposito had the honors of producing Harvard's second goal 92 seconds into the stanza when his one-time blast from the left face-off dot beat Rensselaer goaltender Cam Hackett. Ryan Donato set up Esposito with a pass from behind the end line, with Tyler Moy earning the second assist.
The Crimson's third goal came from the stick of Criscuolo. Similar to his first goal Friday against No. 18 Notre Dame, Criscuolo corralled a rebound from a Victor Newell shot and beat the goalie, this time going over Hackett's shoulder, for his third of the tournament and sixth of the season. Donato capped the scoring in the period with his fourth of the season, backhanding a puck past the outstretched pad of Hackett. Moy was again in on the assist, with Esposito also recording a helper.
Rensselaer's best scoring opportunity since the opening minutes came when it went on a 5-on-3 power play eight minutes into the final period, but the penalty kill unit did its job and Madsen turned away five shots to hold off the Engineers and secure the shutout.
Harvard and Rensselaer will meet again one week from tonight in Troy, New York in an ECAC game, but the night prior Harvard will visit Union. The games will be the last of 2015 for Harvard, taking the rest of December off before traveling to Minneapolis to play in University of Minnesota's 25th Annual Mariucci Classic, Jan. 1-2, 2016.