Harvard plays its first non-conference games of the season with a series at No. 6/7 Minnesota this weekend. (Courtesy of Colgate Athletics)
The Opening Faceoff
No. 11/13 Harvard men's hockey plays its first non-conference games of the season this weekend with a series at No. 6/7 Minnesota beginning on Friday night (7 p.m. CT) at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Harvard returns to Minnesota two seasons after winning the 2016 Mariucci Classic, defeating Ferris State (W, 7-3) and Minnesota (W, 4-3 ot) on Jan. 1-2, 2016 for the title.
The First Line
• Harvard's series at Minnesota marks a homecoming for the four Minnesota natives on the Crimson roster. Freshman forward Henry Bowlby (Edina, Minn./Edina), freshman defenseman Benjamin Foley (Edina, Minn./Edina), junior defenseman Jacob Olson (Saint Paul, Minn./Hill-Murray), and senior forward Jake Horton (Oakdale, Minn.) all hail from the Twin Cities region.
• Harvard and Minnesota met famously in the 1989 NCAA title game at the St. Paul Civic Center on April 1, 1989, with Ed Krayer scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Crimson to a national championship. Then-sophomore Ted Donato scored twice in the game, and earned Most Outstanding Player honors. Goaltender Allain Roy, defenseman Kevin Sneddon, forward Lane MacDonald, and Donato were named to the All-Tournament Team.
• Harvard's win against Minnesota in the 2016 Mariucci Classic was its first over the Gophers since the 1989 NCAA title. The Crimson will play a Big Ten opponent in a two-game series for the first time since visiting Minnesota on Jan. 8-9, 2010.
• Over the past three seasons, Harvard is 14-6 in non-conference regular season games.
Coming off its sixth straight conference regular season title, and fourth straight Big Ten title, Minnesota enters the 2017-18 season with high expectations. The Gophers have been led up front by a pair of Nashville draft picks - sophomore forward Rem Pitlick (five goals, nine assists) and junior forward Tommy Novak (three goals, 10 assists). Junior forward Tyler Sheehy (three goals, seven assists) was a First Team All-American and Hobey Baker finalist last season. Goaltender Eric Schierhorn (7-4-1, 2.39 GAA, .913 save% was the Big Ten Goaltender of the Year last season. Minnesota has the 12th-ranked scoring defense in the nation, allowing 2.42 goals per game.
The Minnesota Series
Series Record: Minnesota Leads 22-7-0
Last Five Meetings:
Dec. 29, 1995 – L, 5-2
Dec. 29, 1999 – L, 5-2
Jan. 8, 2010 – L, 5-2
Jan. 9, 2010 – L, 3-1
Jan. 2, 2016 – W, 4-3 (ot)
The Last Meeting - Minnesota
On Jan. 2, 2016, Kyle Criscuolo provided two of the most important goals of his career to clinch the championship of the 25th Annual Mariucci Classic for the Crimson in a 4-3 win over the host Gophers in overtime. The forward scored with 34 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime with Minnesota before notching the game-winner 2:39 into the extra period for the victory. Criscuolo was named tournament MVP, and joining him on the all-tournament team from Harvard was forward Seb Lloyd (goal, assist vs. Gophers) and goaltender Merrick Madsen (26 saves vs. Gophers).
The Last Time Out
Last Saturday, in the 151st meeting between Harvard and Cornell on the ice, the Crimson fell 3-2 to the Big Red at Lynah Rink as Cornell's Alec McCrea scored a power play goal with 2.3 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Big Red to the win.
Oh Captains, My Captains
Seniors Eddie Ellis, Jake Horton, and Merrick Madsen will lead the squad this season as captains. All Harvard varsity captains are elected by their teammates. This marks the first time in program history that Harvard has elected three men's hockey captains.
Dominant on Draws
Junior forward Ryan Donato, who made the switch to center this season, is eighth in the country with a 62.9% win rate on faceoffs through five games this season. Harvard as a team is No. 8 in the country with a 54.0% mark on draws this season.
Senior co-captain Merrick Madsen has been selected as one of the 20 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award for men's collegiate hockey. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
NHL In The Family
Ryan Donato, Jack Donato, Ty Pelton-Byce, and Reilly Walsh are sons of former NHLers. Ted Donato, Harvard's current head coach, played 13 years in the NHL, while John Byce played parts of two seasons with the Bruins and a decade playing professionally. Mike Walsh played parts of two seasons wth the New York Islanders and had a nine-year pro career.
The class of 2018 has 70 wins in three-plus seasons at Harvard and could surpass the most wins for a senior group since the class of 2006 had 82, and the most in the last 20 years of any senior class.
While Harvard lost its top three scorers from 2016-17, four of its top eight scorers are back. Leading the group is junior Ryan Donato who was fourth on the team with 40 points (21-19--40) and second in goal-scoring last year and sophomore defenseman Adam Fox (6-34-40), who led all blueliners in the nation in scoring.
Senior goaltender Merrick Madsen has etched his name in the Harvard record books. Madsen has two shutouts (Dartmouth, Brown) in five games this season bringing his career total to nine (T-2nd in Harvard history). With 28 wins last season, he had the most wins by a Harvard goaltender in a single season, passing Grant Blair '86, who had 24 in 1985-86. Madsen will leave Harvard as one of the program's greatest goaltenders. He is currently tied for fourth on the all-time wins list (48), and entered the year second on the career goals-against average list (2.04), and first on the career save percentage list (.927).
Harvard ranks No. 13 in the most recent USCHO.com poll and No. 11 in the USA Today poll, released earlier this week.Harvard has been ranked in the USCHO.com poll for 77 weeks, while it has spent the last 60 weeks ranked in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.
Donato A High Volume Shooter
Opposing goaltenders can expect to see a lot of Ryan Donato on a nightly basis. Donato leads the team with 29 shots on net in five games (5.80 per game/2nd NCAA) The junior forward was second in the country with a 5.14 shots per game average last year. He ripped off a season-high 13 shots during his four-goal showing against Union Feb. 10, when he became the first Harvard skater since Connor Morrison on Nov. 24, 2009 to score four goals in a game. That number was the highest since Jimmy Vesey '16 had 13 against Rensselaer Feb. 12, 2016. Harvard as a team ranked fourth in the nation in shots on goal per game at 34.42.
Three former Harvard men's hockey players are now general managers in the NHL, the most of any college program. Don Sweeney '88 (Boston), Peter Chiarelli '87 (Edmonton) and Chuck Fletcher '90 (Minnesota) all skated for the Crimson. Only one other college program is represented more than once, Bowling Green: George McPhee (Las Vegas) and Brian MacLellan (Washington).
Harvard boasts seven players on its 2017-18 roster that were selected in the NHL Entry Draft:
• Jack Badini (2017, Anaheim, 3rd rd.)
• Ryan Donato (2014, Boston, 2nd rd.)
• Adam Fox (2016, Calgary, 3rd rd.)
• Merrick Madsen (2013, Philadelphia, 6th rd.)
• John Marino (2015, Edmonton, 6th rd.)
• Wiley Sherman (2013, Boston, 5th rd.)
• Reilly Walsh (2017, New Jersey, 3rd rd.)
Harvard adds eight freshmen to the roster in 2017-18. Among them are drafted defenseman Reilly Walsh (New Jersey) and forward Jack Badini (Anaheim). Up front, Harvard will also add Henry Bowlby, Jack Donato, Mitchell Perrault and Benjamin Solin. The additional new defensemen are Nick Azar and Benjamin Foley.
A Power Play
Harvard's power play has scored in four of five games this season (5-for-24, 20.8%) and was one of the best in the nation a season ago at 26.4% (42-for-159, 4th NCAA). Sophomore Nathan Krusko made his mark in his first year at Harvard on the man advantage, scoring six of his nine goals on the power play. Harvard scored a power play goal in 26 of 36 games on the season. Junior forward Ryan Donato and freshman defenseman Reilly Walsh lead Harvard with two power play goals each.
Harvard placed 27 student-athletes on the ECAC Hockey All-Academic team, the most of any school in the conference. Harvard was led by senior Thomas Aiken, who earned a spot on the Commissioner's List as the top scholar for Harvard in 2016-17.
Senior defenseman Wiley Sherman is one of nine players in college hockey standing at least 6'7", and the tallest D1 defensemen. Stephen Mundinger of Maine and Keenan Suthers of St. Lawrence, both forwards are the tallest players in the nation at 6'8".
Harvard is 19-1-3 in its last 23 games at Bright-Landry Hockey Center, a run that dates back to Feb. 12, 2016. The Crimson was unbeaten at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center last season, going 13-0-2. The last time Harvard finished a season unbeaten at home was 1993-94 when it went 10-0-3. Since extensive renovations were completed prior to the start of the 2014-15 season, the Crimson is 31-8-6 on its home ice.
Harvard Hockey is no stranger to the Winter Olympics, with 26 men's hockey alumni selected as a coach, player, or member of team personnel of their respective national teams, including Ted Donato '91, who represented the U.S. at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.
The men's hockey competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea will be comprised of players currently on college rosters, those with AHL only contracts and those playing professionally in Europe. Harvard has several strong candidates for the U.S. squad. USA Hockey will evaluate 30 players (none from college hockey ranks) on a preliminary team at the Deutschland Cup in Germany from Nov. 10-12. USA Hockey expects to announce the 25 players that will make-up the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team by Jan. 1. Team USA will gather for its first practice in South Korea approximately a week before competition begins on Feb. 10.
Ivy League Network
The Ivy League Network returns for a fifth 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 a live score bug and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League 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 Network or to sign-up today, click here, or download the Ivy League Network app!
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).