Jake Horton and the Crimson play its first two games of the year at Arizona State this weekend (Gil Talbot).
The Opening Faceoff
The No. 13/13 Harvard men's hockey team gets the 2016-17 season going this weekend, playing the first two games in program history against Arizona State. Friday's season opener for the Crimson will be played at Gala River Arena, home of the Arizona Coyotes, in Glendale and broadcast live on the PAC-12 Network. Saturday's game will be played in Tempe at Oceanside Ice Arena and broadcast on Twitter and the PAC-12 Network. Both games will begin at 10 p.m. EST (7 p.m. PST).
The First Line
• While the majority of NCAA Division I hockey has been competing for the better part of October, the Crimson and its Ivy League brethren all kick-off the season this weekend. ASU has played six games to this point, including a pair of losses at Northeastern over the weekend. Other Ivies in action Friday are Brown at Holy Cross, Cornell at Merrimack and Princeton at Michigan State. Dartmouth and Yale are the last two teams to begin the season, playing Michigan and Sacred Heart, respectively, on Saturday.
• Harvard has only played a team from Arizona once in its 119-year history. The Crimson trounced Northern Arizona, 12-1, on Dec. 29, 1982 at the Jeno Holiday Tournament in Duluth, Minnesota.
• For the second-straight year, Harvard opens the season on the road. Last year, Harvard dismantled Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire, 7-0.
Last Time Out
Harvard hosted the USNTDP U-18 team Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center, defeating the red, white and blue, 5-2. Five different Harvard skaters scored in the game and freshman Adam Fox assisted on four of them. The game was the only official preseason contest for Harvard. It also played an unofficial scrimmage at Dartmouth last Saturday, winning 4-3 in a shootout.
Scouting Arizona State
The Sun Devils, in their second season as a Division I program, are 1-5 on the year. Last weekend, ASU visited Northeastern, dropping a pair of games to the Huskies. Friday's game ended with a 5-2 score and Saturday's ended with NU ahead 6-1.
Ottawa prospect Robbie Baillargeon and freshman Tyler Busch lead the ASU offense with four goals each, while junior Dylan Hollman has five helpers and six points. Goaltending duties have been split between Joey Daccord (also a Senators prospect) and Robert Levin. Each has a GAA above 5.0, with Daccord earning the only win of the season against Air Force Oct. 16.
Harvard's 3.41 goals per game average last season ranked ninth nationally and is its highest since 2002-03 when it averaged 3.91.
Harvard's 1.03 scoring margin (3.41 GF - 2.38 GA) ranked 10th among all NCAA Division I teams in 2015-16.
The Crimson were among the least penalized teams in 2015-16, averaging just 8.2 minutes in the box last year. That number was the 10th-lowest nationally.
Special Teams Success
Harvard's power play was lethal last season, scoring on 27.4 percent of its opportunities (31-of-113). That conversion percentage ranked fifth in the nation. The Crimson's 31 power play goals were its most since 2011-12 when it had 38.
Last Line of Defense
Junior Merrick Madsen proved himself to be among the best net minders in the nation last year. The Acton, California native was eighth in save percentage (.931), 10th in win percentage (.696) and shutouts (four) and 14th in goals-against (2.00). Madsen's career .930 save percentage ranked third among active goaltenders entering the 2015-16 season.
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 '16, who repeated as the award's winner. Kyle Criscuolo '16, Alexander Kerfoot and Desmond Bergin '16 each earned second team honors and goaltender Merrick Madsen received honorable mention.
Junior defenseman Wiley Sherman is one of six players in college hockey standing 6'7". Those six players are just one inch shorter than the tallest player in the NCAA, Maine's Stephen Mundinger.
Wealth of Experience
The Harvard roster features 15 juniors and seniors, tied for second most in the NCAA. Only Princeton, Quinnipiac and Vermont have more at 16.