This weekend, the Harvard hockey team will be leaving the comfortable confines of Bright Center...
This weekend, Harvard will be leaving the modest comforts of Bright Center...
This weekend, Harvard will be leaving the hideous interiors of Bright Center to tackle the road in a pair of games against Clarkson (in Potsdam, N.Y., tonight at 7:30 p.m., WHRB broadcast) and St. Lawrence (in Canton, N.Y., tomorrow at 7:30, WHRB). Victories in both games would give the Crimson its third-straight regular-season ECAC championship and the top seed in the league playoffs.
Last weekend, the Crimson dropped a pair of games in its once proud stadium, 3-2 to Vermont Friday and 4-0 to RPI Saturday. The weekend whitewash was the Crimson's first since 1981, when Harvard dropped back-to-back games to Clarkson and Providence at Bright in 1981.
The Crimson was also shut out for the first time since 1984, when RPI did the damage also, 6-0.
Regrouping on the road will be no easy task. But if Harvard hopes to have a lift going into the eight-team ECAC Tournament (which determines the real ECAC titlist), it will have to grab at least one victory this weekend. Harvard earned home ice for the ECACs two weeks ago with weekend wins over Colgate and Cornell at what was then known as Beautiful Bright.
"[Last weekend] was the first weekend we've had all year long that's been bad," Harvard Coach Bill Cleary said. "It came at a time, too, when we were guaranteed home ice. Probably a good thing that it did come then instead of before."
In the middle of January, the Crimson swept a home series against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. But playing these teams on the road is a different matter. Clarkson, in particular, is a much stronger team at home.
The Golden Knights, 5-3 losers to Harvard January 9, are a strong team that prides itself on its ability to bottle up high-flying offenses.
"We have to play a tight-checking game," Clarkson Assistant Coach Steve Dagdigian said. "We can't allow them to generate speed and control the puck. Offensively, we have to get good shots in good areas."
On offense, Clarkson (9-8-3 ECAC) is led by ECAC-leading scorer Luciano Borsato, who in 26 games has pounded home 14 goals and recorded 25 assists. Borsato gets help from his right wing, Steve Williams (14 goals, 18 assists for 32 points).
Defensively, the Golden Knights have one of the top goaltenders in the league, last year's ECAC Rookie of the Year John Fletcher. He owns a .907 save percentage and a 3.22 goals-against average.
St. Lawrence (17-3 ECAC), now first in the ECAC, has an offense that won't quit, and a defense that won't let it. The Saints sport a high-power trio in Pete Lappin (11-30--41), Brian McColgan (12-26--38) and Jamie Baker (22-15--37). But the SLU defense has as many holes as a golf course. Goalie Paul Cohen (.893 save percentage, 3.10 g.a.a) does the best he can.
Both Clarkson and SLU will try to capitalize on the Crimson's recent problems at home.
"It's important for us to start off quick and make them think about those losses," Dagdigian said.