Donato Tweaks M. Hockey's Lines For Larger Rinks

AMHERST, Mass.—Charged with crafting a scheme to defeat both New Hampshire and the Mullins Center’s larger surface, Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 opted for a two-pronged approach: practice off-campus on Olympic-sized rinks during the week, then unveil a speedy and newly constituted fourth line better suited for the ice sheet come game time.

The first half seems to require little more than common sense. The second? Slightly more vision, particularly after considering who Donato chose to substitute in.

Scrapping senior Rob Flynn and freshman Dave Watters, mainstays on the Crimson’s checking line throughout the second half of the season, Donato instead dressed senior Andrew Lederman—a healthy scratch during all but one game in the ECAC tournament—and little-used freshman Alex Meintel.

“As a group,” Donato said, “we felt comfortable not only with the 20 guys that were playing but also a couple of the guys that weren’t playing.”

But while Lederman was no doubt a proven viable alternative—he finished the year with Harvard’s third-highest points-per-game total—the same could not be said of Meintel, who had not skated since Harvard’s 2-1 overtime loss at Dartmouth on Feb. 25. In fact, the rookie had only nine collegiate appearances and one assist to his name entering the matchup with the Wildcats.

But Meintel delivered all the same, outworking UNH to reach a loose puck following a faceoff at center ice, then depositing a no-angle shot into the top left corner of the net for the first goal of his career at 7:43 of the second period. The tally negated the Wildcats’ goal recorded just eight ticks earlier, arresting UNH’s comeback surge.

“We tried to get right on them off the faceoff,” Meintel said. “I was just lucky enough to have it bounce right on my stick and I just shoveled it in.”

“I don’t know if everyone in the room understands what it means to work all year and then finally get a chance to show what you’ve got,” Donato added. “But I was very proud of the way [Meintel] has played.”

FOUR BY FOUR

The Frozen Four will feature the same four programs that competed for the WCHA’s postseason conference crown—Denver, Colorado College, North Dakota, and Minnesota—marking the first time in NCAA tournament history that one league has held a monopoly on the final quartet.

The Golden Gophers were the last to move on, rubbing out Cornell 2-1 in overtime at Mariucci Arena—Minesota’s home ice—to secure the unique arrangement.

Still, not all will be as it was at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center three weekends ago. Then, Colorado College and Denver were paired in the championship, which the Pioneers narrowly captured, 1-0. Come Thursday, when the two go head-to-head for the sixth time this season—Denver holds a 3-2 series edge—they’ll be playing for the right just to advance to the title game.

Minnesota—bested by both Colorado College and North Dakota in its final two conference playoff games—and the Fighting Sioux, bested by Denver in the penultimate round of the WCHA tournament, will square off in the other semifinal.

HAT TRICKED

Harvard netminder Dov Grumet-Morris will not be the recipient of the 2005 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, according to the foundation which presents the honor.

One of the 10 in contention following the first cut, Grumet-Morris was not among the final three announced by the Hobey Baker Foundation on March 30. Cornell goaltender David McKee and Colorado College forwards Marty Sertich and Brett Sterling remain in the running for the award, which will be presented on April 8.

According to the foundation, the first cut of finalists is determined by a vote of the country’s 58 Division I coaches and a fan ballot, while the “Hat Trick Finalists” are selected by a 25-member committee and a second fan poll.

—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at mcginn@fas.harvard.edu.

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