But in a pleasant departure from that recent Crimson tradition, the rookies on this year’s team will not be required to contribute immediately.
“This is the first class we’ve recruited to Harvard where those kids don’t have to come in and make an impact on our program [right away],” said Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni.
Because of the Crimson’s depth, the freshmen may be hard-pressed to find playing time. But they do expect to contribute.
“I think there is a lot of upperclassman leadership this year,” said Tom Walsh, one of five rookies on Harvard’s active roster. “We’re all going to help, but I don’t think they’re going to be relying on us.”
Walsh, of Arlington, Mass., comes to the Crimson as a highly-regarded defenseman. He took a post-graduate year at Deerfield Academy, also the alma mater of Harvard teammates Aaron Kim, Tyler Kolarik and Rob Fried.
Walsh’s time at Deerfield allowed him to hone his skills for Division I hockey.
“Tommy is an outstanding leader with excellent poise on the ice,” said Deerfield coach Jim Lindsay. “He has great vision and anticipation.”
At Deerfield, Walsh recorded five goals and 22 assists in 24 games. His all-around athletic talents showed off the ice as well, as he also played varsity baseball.
“He’s a really good passer and looks to jump into offense after his passes,” said Harvard assistant coach Nate Leaman. “Tom will have an adjustment period, but look for him to be in our top six [rotation of defensemen] by Christmas.”
Leaman holds similarly high expectations for another blueliner, Peter Hafner of Gaitherburg, Md.
“He will do a great job of keeping the play simple and getting the puck to our forwards in transition,” Leaman said.
Hafner’s exceptional height—he stands at 6’5—means he doesn’t shy away from physical play and will bring an essential element to the Crimson’s defense—tenacity.
“He doesn’t mind playing tough in the corner,” senior forward Brett Nowak said.
Joining Nowak up front will be freshmen Charlie Johnson and Dan Murphy, who will add depth to the Crimson attack.
Johnson, a native of Calgary, is very adept with the puck and sees the ice well.