Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Know Your Enemy: Harvard

We're getting down to the wire - the men drop the puck for the first time on October 1 against Acadia in an exhibition game, and we have just three teams left to review as part of this year's "Know Your Enemy." Today's profile features a team that may have reached rock bottom last year that features a coach who's in desperate need of results but bringing in a class that just may deliver them.

Nickname: Crimson
Location: Cambridge, MA
Founded: 1636
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 1 (1989)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2006
Last Frozen Four: 1994
Coach: Ted Donato (8th season)
2010-11 Record: 12-21-1 (7-14-1 ECAC, 10th place)
Series: Harvard leads, 46-35-3
First Game: December 27, 1951 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: January 21, 2011 (Troy, NY)
Last HU win: November 6, 2010 (Boston, MA)

2011-12 games: January 7, 2012 (Troy, NY); February 10, 2012 (Boston, MA)

Key players: D Ryan Grimshaw, sr.; F Alex Killorn, sr.; F Conor Morrison, jr.; D Danny Biega, jr.; F Marshall Everson, jr.; F Alex Fallstrom, jr.; D Dan Ford, so.; F Colin Blackwell, fr.; F Kyle Criscuolo, fr.; D Max Everson, fr.; D Mark Luzar, fr.; F Patrick McNally, fr.; G Steven Michalek, fr.; F Petr Placek, fr.

Key losses: G Kyle Richter, G Ryan Carroll, D Chris Huxley, F Michael Biega

Previous KYE installment:
Harvard hasn't had too many seasons as ugly as last year's - their 10th place showing was their lowest finish since the Hockey East split. For a program that has never, not even once, finished in the bottom two of the ECAC in 50 seasons, they came awfully darn close. The Crimson required three wins in their last four games to stay out of the cellar (oddly enough, the one loss during that stretch coming against last place Colgate).

Overall, it was Harvard's third-consecutive losing season (for the first time since five straight in the late 1990s), fourth losing season in five years, and second-consecutive 20-loss season (first time ever).

That all has to add up to head coach Ted Donato probably being on one of the hottest seats in the conference, but fortunately for him, he's bringing in an outstanding class this year that will probably have the Crimson working their way back up to more familiar spaces on the ECAC table.

If it's been said once, it's been said a thousand times: you can't rely on freshmen to be successful. However, Harvard's freshman class this year will probably at the very least give them the juice they need to stay out of the cellar of the ECAC, since it represents some serious talent, especially where it's needed most, up front.

The names that stand out the most are certainly Max Everson, whose older brother is already on the team, and goaltender Stephen Michalek, who was invited to the World Junior Championships camp in Lake Placid this summer. Those two are likely future stars in Boston, but Michalek is almost certainly going to need to perform well at the outset, since he's almost certainly going to be the starter following the graduations of Carroll and Richter.

Huxley and Michael Biega were both solid talents, but they were two of the better players on a pretty bad team last year. In addition to strong play from Michalek, guys like Danny Biega (the team's leading scorer last year, which should tell you about how well the forwards did) and Killorn are going to need to be solid enough to give that talented freshman class time to grow.

Harvard is still very young this year, and as such probably won't be among the teams fighting for a first round bye, but as with their former travel partners at Brown, there's at the very least groundwork that is laid out for a return to grace for the Crimson. Their new talent infusion gives them a leg up on some of the league's worse teams, however, so expect them to at least give a very solid run at home ice in the first round.

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