Senior Colin Blackwell and the Crimson begin the 2016 playoffs this weekend vs. Rensselaer (ELan Kawesch).
No. 12/12 Harvard (16-9-4, 12-6-4 ECAC) vs. Rensselaer (18-13-7, 8-7-7)
The Opening Faceoff
The No. 12/12 Harvard men's hockey team is set to host its first ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series since 2012 this weekend, facing off against Rensselaer in a best-of-three game series at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center beginning Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m. Game two will be played Saturday at the same time, as will game three Sunday if needed. In addition to the online broadcasts on ECACHockey.com, the entire series will be televised with ONE World Sports airing Friday's game and American Sports Network broadcasting Saturday and Sunday.
The First Line
• Harvard is the defending ECAC Hockey Tournament champions. The Crimson defeated Brown and Yale in the first round and quarterfinals last year, before advancing to top Quinnipiac and Colgate in Lake Placid. The ECAC title was the ninth in program history and first since 2006.
• Seven times in program history, the Crimson has been the three-seed in the ECAC playoffs. When playing as the No. 3, Harvard is 17-8-1 and won the ECAC Tournament championship in 1963 and 2002.
• Harvard has met Rensselaer in the ECAC playoffs 19 times, more than each of the other schools in the conference except Cornell (23) and Clarkson (21). Harvard is 12-5-2 in all playoff meetings with the Engineers and 8-4-2 in quarterfinal matchups. Although Harvard and Rensselaer have a lengthy ECAC playoff history, none of it is very recent, as the last meeting occurred in the quarterfinals of 1999 when the Engineers won in three games. Harvard last beat Rensselaer in the playoffs in the consolation game of 1993 and last won a series against it in the quarterfinals of 1991.
Last Time Out
Harvard has been off since closing out the regular season with a trip to North Country. The Crimson suffered a tough 2-1 loss to Clarkson before capping the regular season with a 4-1 throttling of St. Lawrence in the season finale. Harvard's power play converted on 2-of-4 tries, netting goals by rookies Lewis Zerter-Gossage and Ryan Donato to lead the way. Sophomore Merrick Madsen was solid in net, matching his career-high with 38 saves, while stopping his third penalty shot attempt of the season.
The Engineers reached this weekend's quarterfinal matchup with the Crimson after sweeping 11th-seeded Brown at home last week. Game one of the series saw Rensselaer hang on for a 3-2 lead after leading 3-1 early in the third, but game two provided more theatrics. Brown burst out to a 3-0 advantage in the opening period, but Rensselaer rallied with two goals in the second and two more in the third to dispatch of Brown and advance.
Overall, the Engineers have an 18-13-7 record and an 8-7-7 mark in ECAC play, giving it 23 points. The two wins over Brown on consecutive nights was a reprieve for Rensselaer after going 2-6-1 over the final month of the regular season. Rensselaer's only wins during that stretch were 2-1 decisions over Harvard (Feb. 12) and Princeton (Feb. 20).
Despite playing nine more games than Harvard this season, Rensselaer has just 93 goals as a team, versus the Crimson's 99. Riley Bourbonnais has accounted for a team-best 14 of those. Miloš Bubela is second with 12 tallies, while also leading the Engineers in penalty minutes at 48. Senior Jason Kasdorf has been strong in net, posting a .933 save mark, 2.20 GAA and a 12-11-5 record.
Series History vs. Rensselaer
Harvard's all-time record against Rensselaer is 51-37-7. The Crimson and Engineers met for the first time in 1951 and not again until 1960, with Rensselaer winning both, but a 12-1 stretch for Harvard in the 1980's shifted the balance in its favor.
This Season vs. Rensselaer
Rensselaer is Harvard's most common opponent this year, meeting its foe three times. The teams are even, with each winning once and then tying in Troy, New York in December. Harvard won the first meeting by a score of 4-0 in South Bend, Indiana to capture the Shillelagh Tournament title and then a week later the squads skated to a scoreless tie at Houston Field House. The meeting in Cambridge in February favored the Engineers, 2-1.
With his third period assist in the season finale at St. Lawrence, forward Jimmy Vesey reached the 20 goal - 20 assist plateau for the second straight season. This year, the co-captain has 21 goals and 20 assists, while last year he finished with 32 goals and 26 helpers. He is the first Harvard player to have multiple 20-20 seasons since Hobey Baker winner Lane MacDonald. MacDonald had 37 goals and 30 assists in 1986--87 and then tallied 31 goals and 29 helpers in 1988-89.
Harvard earned a share of its first Ivy League title in 10 years, racking up 16 points (7-1-2) to split the 2016 championship with Yale. Harvard leads the conference with 22 Ivy League titles since the conference began recognition of championship in men's sports in 1956-57.
The Crimson was led to its title by five All-Ivy League selections, highlighted by Player of the Year, Jimmy Vesey, who repeated as the award's winner. Kyle Criscuolo, Alexander Kerfoot and Desmond Bergin each earned second team honors and goaltender Merrick Madsen received honorable mention.
Records Were Meant to be Broken
Jimmy Vesey racked up nine goals during the 2015 ECAC tournament, breaking Doug Marrett's (Cornell) record of eight set in 1973. Vesey had the game-winners in both of Harvard's wins at Yale and then scored twice in both the semifinals and finals.
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.
Three for 30
Harvard's first line of Jimmy Vesey, Alexander Kerfoot and Kyle Criscuolo is the first trio of teammates since the 2003-04 season to amass 30 points apiece. Vesey leads the team with 41 points (21G, 20A), Kerfoot has 32 (4G, 28A) and Criscuolo has 30 (18G, 12A). In 2003-04, four Crimson tallied 30 or more points: Tom Cavanagh '05 (36), Tim Pettit '04 (34), Tyler Kolorik '04 (30) and Brendan Bernakevitch '05 (30).
On Jan. 29, seniors Kyle Criscuolo and Jimmy Vesey were recognized as two of the 20 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. On Feb. 17, the Senior CLASS Award announced its 10 finalists, with Jimmy Vesey among those honored. The honor highlights student-athletes that remained in school for four years, while showing excellence in the community, the classroom, character and competition. The winner will be announced during the NCAA Men's Frozen Four in April.
Senior Kyle Criscuolo was named one of five student-athletes in college hockey named a finalist for the 2016 Hockey Humanitarian Award. The HHA is presented annually to college hockey's finest citizen – a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism.
Dishing it Out
Junior Alexander Kerfoot is one of just three players in the nation averaging more than one assist per contest. At 1.00 assists per game, Kerfoot is tied with North Dakota's Nick Schmaltz, with both trailing only Michigan's JT Compher (1.16).
70 is Elite
Senior forward Jimmy Vesey joined a list of the most prolific scorers to wear a Harvard jersey Friday, Jan. 22 when he netted the 70th goal of his career. He is just the seventh Harvard player to reach that plateau. With his goal at St. Lawrence Feb. 27, Vesey moved into a tie for fifth on Harvard's all-time scoring list with 77, matching Dan DeMichele '71.
Over the last two seasons, senior forward Jimmy Vesey has led the nation in scoring.
Most Goals, Last Two Seasons
53 – Jimmy Vesey, Harvard (NSH)
44 – Sam Anas, Quinnipiac
41 – Ralph Cuddemi, Canisius
39 – Ahti Oksanen, Boston University
39 – Austin Ortega, Omaha