Since their arrival in 2001, the seniors on the No. 8 Harvard’s men’s hockey team have encountered their fair share of regular-season struggles, but when it’s come time for ECAC playoff hockey, they’ve excelled, racking up 15 wins against just one loss—a devastating 3-2 overtime loss in the championship game against Cornell in 2003—a defeat tempered by flawless tournament runs in 2002 and 2004.
“I think that it helps going in, just as far as confidence,” assistant captain Ryan Lannon said. “We expect to come away with wins, and that type of confidence and that mental preparation going in helps. We try to pass it on to the younger guys, where they expect to win and they expect success, especially at this time of the season. Hopefully, we can carry that on.”
Only the No. 3 Big Red’s seniors have enjoyed success that remotely approaches that of Harvard’s fourth-year skaters.
Cornell fell to the Crimson in the 2002 finals, went undefeated in the 2003 tournament, then lost twice to Clarkson at home last year, failing to even reach the Final Four in Albany, N.Y.—not quite a comparable run, to say the least.
“It’s just one of those things,” assistant captain Tom Cavanagh said. “Even though we’ve had success in the past, that’s in the past. We know that, and we’re not even thinking about that.”
I’D LIKE TO THANK…
Despite its rise through the national ranks, the Crimson was sparsely represented when yesterday’s ECAC Awards were announced, earning just one first-team and two second-team All-ECAC nods.
Harvard captain Noah Welch grabbed the first-team nod, the fourth All-ECAC award of his career. As a freshman, Welch was tapped for the league’s all-rookie squad, and was successively named to the ECAC’s second team and honorable-mention unit.
Second-team honors were presented to Cavanagh, also named the league’s top defensive forward, and senior Dov Grumet-Morris, who—despite being named to the list of 10 Hobey Baker finalists yesterday—was again ranked behind Cornell sophomore David McKee.
In addition to his first-team nod at goaltender, McKee also came away with Player of the Year honors and the Dryden Award as the league’s top player between the pipes.
Cornell’s Mike Schafer was chosen as the ECAC’s top coach for the second time in three years.
THAT OTHER TOURNAMENT
Entering play this evening, Cornell and Harvard have both secured at-large berths to the NCAA tournament—regardless of their fortunes this weekend—while Colgate, Vermont, and even Dartmouth, eliminated from the ECAC postseason in the quarterfinals by the Catamounts, remain in contention for a trip to hockey’s big dance.
For both the Raiders and UVM, there is little room for error, and anything short of capturing the Whitelaw Trophy will likely spell the end of the road for both, barring a particularly precise series of events in conference tournaments elsewhere.
Off the ice, the Big Green and its fans, for their part, will be transformed into the most devoted Colgate fans outside of Hamilton, N.Y. If Dartmouth is to earn an invite, the Raiders must win the ECAC tournament, which will in turn raise Brown’s ratings percentage index (RPI) high enough for the Bears to be elevated to “team under consideration” (TUC) standing. Because Dartmouth has two wins against Brown, that status-bump will boost the Big Green’s record against TUCs high enough to give the Hanover faithful a glimmer of hope should enough breaks go their way.
“This year is a very, very competitive ECAC final four,” Grumet-Morris said. “And I think all four are under consideration for an at-large bid aside from the potential of getting the automatic bid, so I think that it raises the stakes, even more so than perhaps the previous three years.”
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at email@example.com.