Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Know Your Enemy: Harvard

Yes, Virginia, you can manage to win only 8 games out of 22 on the ECAC schedule and pick up a first-round bye - something that might bring some smiles to an RPI team that managed 7 last year and was on the road in the first round. That's just what the Harvard Crimson managed to pull off last season, however, finishing ahead of no less than six teams that had 8 or more wins in league play (hint: the 9 ties had an awful lot to do with it).

Harvard

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 (9th season)
2011-12 Record: 13-10-11 (8-5-9 ECAC, 3rd place)
Series: Harvard leads, 46-35-5
First Game: December 27, 1951 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: January 21, 2011 (Troy, NY)
Last HU win: November 6, 2010 (Boston, MA)

2012-13 games: November 10, 2012 (Boston, MA); February 1, 2013 (Troy, NY)

Key players: D Danny Biega, sr.; F Marshall Everson, sr.; F Alex Fallstrom, sr.; F Conor Morrison, sr.; D Brendan Rempel, sr.; D Dan Ford, jr.; G Raphael Girard, jr.; F Colin Blackwell, so.; D Max Everson, so.; F Patrick McNally, so.; G Steven Michalek, so.; F Kyle Criscuolo, fr.; F Brian Hart, fr.; F Brayden Jaw, fr.; F Jimmy Vesey, fr.

Key losses: F Alex Killorn, D Ryan Grimshaw, F Eric Kroshus, F Daniel Moriarty, F Colin Moore

Previous KYE installments:
Befitting the fact that Harvard tied an awful lot of games - setting an NCAA record for ties in a season, with the truncated Ivy League schedule, no less - the Crimson tied both of their games against RPI.

We mentioned frequently last season that the number of ties Harvard put up last year indicated that they were a tough team to put away, but also that they were still somewhat lacking offensively to put their opponents away. The Crimson relied largely on four players to put points on the board last season - Killorn, Biega, Fallstrom, and Marshall Everson. Killorn finished a very solid career at Harvard with a 46-point season, but the other three return with a number of good candidates that could potentially help the team offensively. That list includes Hart, a 2nd round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vesey, who went in the 3rd round to the Nashville Predators. The duo were the first two ECAC players selected in this year's draft.

Defensively, Michalek got more time between the posts last season but it was Girard who had the better stats and it was Girard who the team leaned on down the stretch as the Crimson took a post-Beanpot run at the NCAA tournament, putting together a 5-3-1 record after their 3rd place showing at the Garden.

The Crimson survived Yale in the quarterfinals and dispatched Cornell 6-1 in the semis before falling to Union in the ECAC championship - a game in which Harvard scored the first goal of the game early in the third period, but held the lead for all of 37 seconds. Still, the showing definitely highlighted a Harvard team that was clearly hitting its stride at the right time, especially considering that they outscored their opponents 14-3 in the two games immediately preceding the matchup with the Dutchmen.

Coming into last year, Harvard seemed to be the team with the hottest hot seat for its coach, but the school's first winning season in four years, a solid playoff run, and a much anticipated class of freshmen is certainly enough for now to keep Ted Donato in Cambridge. Killorn is the biggest loss, but there's enough coming in to expect that the Crimson will certainly be in the hunt for a first-round bye this season, and if things land just right, they could well be among the teams offering a challenge at the top.

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