Harvard men's ice hockey returns home for the first time in two months to take on RPI and Union at Bright-Landry Hockey Center (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard men's ice hockey returns to Bright-Landry Hockey Center for the first time in two months after a record nine-game stretch away from home ice. The Crimson will host Rensselaer on Friday night (7 p.m., NESN), before a quick turnaround to take on Union on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., NESNplus). The Crimson closes the season with 15 of its last 17 games in ECAC Hockey play.
The First Line
• A 3-1-0 month of December has Harvard positioned for a second half run, as the Crimson is coming off a 4-1 win over Vermont at the Catamount Cup on Dec. 30. Junior forward Ryan Donato (four goals, assist) had a banner weekend, including his fourth career hat trick against the Catamounts, while senior goaltender Merrick Madsen (27 saves) had one of his strongest performances in net this season.
• In its last 20 games, Harvard is 16-1-3 at Bright-Landry Hockey Center against ECAC Hockey opponents, a run that dates back to the 2015-16 season.
• The accolades are rolling in for junior forward Ryan Donato, who has a career high 12-game point streak (12 goals, eight assists) to open the season, and leads the nation with an average of 1.67 points per game and 1.00 goals per game. Donato was named the HCA National Player of the Month for December after finishing the month as Division I leader in points per game (2.50); goals per game (2.00); hat tricks (2); shots on goal (5.75) and tied for first in both goals (8) and game-winning goals (2), while finishing second in points (10), recording eight goals and adding two assists. Donato was also named ECAC Hockey Player of the Month, and ECAC Hockey Player of the Week.
Sophomore Jacob Hayhurst leads the Engineers with 13 points on seven goals and six assists through 19 games, whil junior Evan Tironese (6 goals, 5 assists) has 11 points, while sophomore Todd Burgess (1 goal, 9 assists) is third with 10. RPI has lost its last four games, but has wins over league foes Quinnipiac and Yale this season. The Engineers are one of the least penalized teams in the country, averaging 9.9 PIMs per game.
The RPI Series
Series Record: Harvard leads, 55-37-7
Last Five Meetings:
Feb. 12, 2016 (H) - L, 2-1
Mar. 11, 2016 (H) - W, 5-2
Mar. 12, 2016 (H) – W, 8-2
Dec. 30, 2016 (H) – W, 5-1
Jan. 13, 2017 (A) – L, 4-0
The Last Meeting, RPI
On Jan. 13, 2017, despite out-shooting Rensselaer, 41-31, Harvard suffered just its third loss of the season at Houston Field House, falling to the Engineers, 4-0.Rensselaer starting goaltender Chase Perry earned the shutout for the home team, making 41 saves. Merrick Madsen (16 saves) made the start for Harvard, but Cameron Gornet relieved him to begin the third period and made 11 saves on all 11 shots he faced.
Union, which lost its two top scorers from a season ago - Mike Vechionne and Spencer Foo - still boasts a strong offensive club, averaging three goals per game (23rd, NCAA). Union is fourth in the country for junior class scoring, having produced 29 goals and 50 assists this season. All six junior skaters have recored at least five points this season. Brett Supinski leads the class, and the team, with six goals and 16 assists. Junior Cole Maier is on a career-best 10-game streak having recorded 11 points (4g, 7a) in that span.
The Union Series
Series Record: Harvard leads, 32-15-6
Last Five Meetings:
Jan. 30, 2015 (H) – L, 5-4
Dec. 4, 2015 (A) – T, 4-4 (ot)
Feb 13 2016 (H) – W, 4-1
Jan. 14, 2017 (A) – L, 2-1
Feb. 10, 2017 (H) – W, 6-2
The Last Meeting, Union
On Feb. 10, 2017, Ryan Donato became the first Harvard player since Connor Morrison on Nov. 24, 2009 to score four goals in a game, as Harvard beat Union, 6-2. Senior goaltender Merrick Madsen made 32 saves to earn the win in net.
Donato, Welch '05 Receive Olympic Call
Junior forward Ryan Donato and former Harvard standout Noah Welch '05 will represent the United States in men's ice hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, USA Hockey announced on Jan. 1. Donato and Welch were selected to the 25-man roster that will make-up the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team, released during the NHL Winter Classic. Donato, a native of Scituate, Mass., is in the midst of his best individual season with the Crimson, recording a point in all 12 games to start the season and leading the team with 20 points (12 goals, eight assists). Welch, a two-time All-American and standout defenseman at Harvard, captained the Crimson as a senior in 2004-05. The Brighton, Mass., native registered 76 points (23 goals, 53 assists) in 129 career games. Team USA will gather for its first practice in South Korea approximately a week before competition begins on Feb. 10. Harvard men's hockey is no stranger to the Winter Olympics, with 28 men's hockey alumni selected as a coach, player, or member of team personnel of their respective national teams, including current head coach Ted Donato '91, who represented the U.S. at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.
Fox at World Juniors
Harvard will be missing the services of sophomore forward Adam Fox, who was selected for the U.S. World Junior roster for the second consecutive season. Fox is competing at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo from Dec. 26-Jan. 5. Through five games, Fox has five points (goal, four assists), including the game-winning goal in Team USA's 5-4 win against Finland on Dec. 31.
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.
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.
Several of Harvard's freshmen have made an immediate impact. Forward Henry Bowlby leads the team with a +8 rating and has eight points (three goals, six assists). Forward Jack Badini has six points (three goals, three assists), and defenseman Reilly Walsh leads all Harvard first-year players with nine points (three goals, six assists) including a team high three power play goals.
Dominant on Draws
Freshman center Jack Badini leads the team and is one of top centers in ECAC Hockey at 57.7% on faceoffs this season. Junior forward Ryan Donato, who made the switch to center this season, has also been solid in the faceoff circle with a 54.5% win rate on draws through 12 games this year.
Strong on the PK
Harvard's penalty kill has been excellent through 12 games this season. Currently, Harvard ranks seventh in the nation at 87.5% (42-for-48) on the kill, including eight games this season where the Crimson has not allowed a power play goal.
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 73 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 eight starts 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 fourth on the all-time wins list (49), and entered the year second on the career goals-against average list (2.04), and first on the career save percentage list (.927).
2016-17: A Year To Remember
• Harvard had a 28-6-2 overall record, the most wins since the 1988-89 season (31) and the fewest losses in Division I college hockey. The Crimson earned its 13th Frozen Four appearance and first since 1994.
• Harvard won its 10th ECAC Hockey Tournament title and second in the last three years (2015, 2017). The title was the third under head coach Ted Donato '91 (2006, 2015, 2017).
• Harvard won a share of its 14th ECAC regular season title, the most in the conference, hoisting its first Cleary Cup (named for legendary student-athlete, coach and administrator William J. Cleary, Jr. '56) since 1993-94.
• The Crimson earned its first outright Ivy League title since 2006. Harvard has 23 Ivy League titles to its credit since the league began recognizing an official conference champion in ice hockey in 1956.
• Harvard snapped a 24-year Beanpot drought (1993) with its 6-3 victory over Boston University on Feb. 13, 2017 at TD Garden. The championship marked the 11th in the storied history of the tournament for Harvard. Nathan Krusko earned tournament MVP honors, scoring twice and dishing out an assist in the championship game.
• The Crimson was unbeaten at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center last season, going 13-0-2.
• Adam Fox was named 2016-17 CCM/AHCA first team East All-American and Alexander Kerfoot was selected to the second team.
• Fox was named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year. Fox and Alexander Kerfoot were selected to the All-ECAC Hockey first team, forward Ryan Donato was tabbed to the second team and goaltender Merrick Madsen earned a spot on the third team.
• Goaltender Merrick Madsen etched his name in the Harvard record books. With 28 wins on the season, Madsen recorded the most wins by a Harvard goaltender in a single season, passing Grant Blair '86, who had 24 in 1985-86.
• Harvard had an 18-game unbeaten streak (17-0-1) dating from Jan. 20 to its Frozen Four appearance. It was the longest such streak in program history and the longest in the nation during the 2016-17 season.
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 60 shots on net in 12 games (5.0 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.
Through 12 games, senior captain Jake Horton leads the team with 21 blocked shots, while senior defenseman Wiley Sherman has 19 blocked shots, junior defenseman Jacob Olson has 19 blocked shots and sophomore defenseman Adam Fox has 15 blocks.
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.
Ivy League Network
The Ivy League Network returns for a fourth 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 conference's eight institutions.