Brayden Jaw and the Crimson skate into the capital region to face Union and Rensselaer (Gil Talbot).
The Opening Faceoff
No. 8/8 Harvard men's hockey heads back out the road this weekend with a trip to the Empire State to take on Union and Rensselaer in a pair of ECAC Hockey matchups. Puck drop against the Dutchmen is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday evening. Saturday's 7 p.m. contest will feature a rematch of the Crimson and Engineers one week removed from facing off in the title game at the Shillelagh Tournament.
The First Line
• Harvard student-athletes garnered five of the six spots on the all-tournament team at the Shillelagh Tournament last weekend. After winning the tournament with wins over Notre Dame and Rensselaer, Merrick Madsen, Jimmy Vesey, Kyle Criscuolo, Alexander Kerfoot and Victor Newell were selected by the media to the all-tournament squad. Additionally, Madsen was named Tournament MVP with wins in both games and a shutout of the Engineers.
• Two players garnered attention from the conference office this week, as senior forward Jimmy Vesey was named ECAC Player of the Month and Merrick Madsen was honored as Goaltender of the Month. Vesey had six goals, including three game-winners, to go with four assists in 10 games in November, while Madsen stands at 5-0-0 with three shutouts after making 60-of-61 saves at the Shillelagh to earn Tournament MVP honors.
Last Time Out
Harvard completed a successful Thanksgiving trip to South Bend, Indiana, winning the Shillelagh Tournament with victories over host Notre Dame and Rensselaer. The tournament was the first of three in the regular season for Harvard with a trip to Minneapolis for the 25th Annual Mariucci Classic up next Jan. 1-2, 2016.
The Crimson topped Notre Dame, 4-1, behind two power play goals from senior co-captain Kyle Criscuolo and 29 saves in net by Merrick Madsen. The sophomore netminder followed that up with a 31-save shutout of Rensselaer in the championship, his third of the year, earning Tournament MVP honors.
The Dutchmen have dropped six of their last eight contests dating back to a 5-2 home loss to New Hampshire Oct. 24. It's lone wins during that span have come against Clarkson and its last time out versus Merrimack Nov. 28.
Through 13 games this season, junior Michael Pontarelli leads Union with nine goals and six assists. The scoring leader for the Dutchmen is sophomore Ryan Scarfo with six goals. In net, junior Alex Sakellaropulos has started 10 games for a 3-4-3 record, 2.19 GAA and a .924 save percentage.
Series History vs. Union
The Crimson maintain a 30-14-5 lead in the all-time series against Union with the first meeting, a 7-5 win, coming on Nov. 15, 1991. Harvard won nine of the first 11 meetings in the series, tying the Dutchmen in the other two games, before Union's first win Jan. 10, 1997. In recent years that trend has reveresed, as Union is 9-0-2 in the last 11 meetings with Harvard most recent win coming Feb. 13, 2010 by a 4-3 score.
The Engineers split its games last weekend at the Shillelagh, topping Western Michigan, 4-1, in the first round, before being stopped by the Crimson. The loss to Harvard snapped a nine-game unbeaten streak Rensselaer had going since a 5-1 win over Union Oct. 31.
Junior Riley Bourbonnais is leading the Engineers with 12 points and eight goals. Sophomore Mike Prapavessis, who was the only non-Crimson skater on the Shillelagh All-Tournament team, has a team-best eight assists. In net, freshman Cam Hackett had a 5-0-2 start to his career before suffering his first collegiate loss last Saturday to Harvard. Hackett has posted a .929 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA as the starter since incumbent Jason Kasdorf was injured.
Series History vs. Rensselaer
Fellow ECAC Hockey member Rensselaer and Harvard have been meeting on the ice since 1951. The Engineers got the better of the Crimson in that meeting, 6-2, Dec. 27, 1951, but since, Harvard has accumulated a 51-36-6 record. With the win last weekend, the Crimson has not lost to Rensselaer in the last five meetings, going 4-0-1 with three shutouts.
Harvard won its first of three tournaments it will play in this regular season when it took the championship at the Shillelagh hosted by Notre Dame. The Crimson topped the host in the first round, 4-1, and then shutout Rensselaer, 4-0, in the title game. The victory marked the first time Harvard had won a regular season tournament since the 1993 Beanpot. Outside of the Beanpot, Harvard last took home a regular season tournament title in December 1982 when it won the Jeno Holiday Tournament in Duluth, Minnesota.
On Saturday night, Kyle Criscuolo will join Jimmy Vesey in the 100-games played club. Vesey has dressed in 103 games during his career, while fellow co-captain Criscuolo stands at 98 entering the weekend. Desmond Bergin is nine games shy of reaching 100 played. Should he reach the century mark, this year's trio would be the first teammates since 2008's Jon Pelle (135, most all-time), Tyler Magura and Mike Taylor to do so in their careers.
60 is Elite
With his second goal against Brown Nov. 7, Jimmy Vesey joined the upper echelon of Harvard scorers. The goal gave him 60 for his career, becoming just the 15th player in program history to reach that plateau, tying Joe Cavanagh '71. Vesey enters the weekend with 63 career goals, one shy of joining the Harvard top-10. With his 64th goal he would tie Bob McManama '73, Dave Hynes '73, Tim Smith '86 and Dominic Moore '03 for ninth all-time.