After a one-and-a-half month stretch since its last conference game, the Harvard men’s hockey team will resume ECAC play with two road matchups against Princeton and Quinnipiac this weekend.
The Crimson (4-5-1, 3-3 ECAC) currently sits in ninth place in the conference, but the team still has 16 league games remaining to make up ground.
Although the Harvard offense started the season hot and racked up at least three goals in five of its first seven games, the Crimson has struggled to produce much scoring in its recent matchups.
Harvard has not found the back of the net more than twice on a night since its last win, which came against Cornell Nov. 16. The team is coming off a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Northeastern at Bright Hockey Center.
The Crimson will travel to New Jersey to take on the Tigers on Friday. Princeton (3-7-4, 2-3-3) is going through a rough stretch, having failed to achieve a victory in its last seven outings.
The Tigers are led by junior forward Andrew Calof and sophomore forward Tyler Maugeri, both of whom have amassed a team-high 16 points this year.
The Harvard penalty-killing unit will look to continue Princeton’s struggles on the power play, as the Tigers have converted only two of its last 16 opportunities on the man-advantage.
Princeton and the Crimson have matched up relatively evenly in recent years, and the two squads battled to 4-3 outcomes twice last year, with each team winning one.
After the showdown with the Tigers, Harvard will wrap up the weekend against Quinnipiac (14-3-2, 8-0) in Hamden, Conn. The Bobcats have been playing some of their best hockey of the year recently. After going 3-4-1 to begin the season, Quinnipiac has gone undefeated since, winning 11 of its last 12 games with one tie.
The Bobcats have achieved success in part because of their sound defensive play. Quinnipiac ranks second in the ECAC with only six power-play goals allowed all season, and senior goaltender Eric Hartzell leads the conference with a 1.43 goals against average.
The Crimson will need to contain senior forward Jeremy Langlois, who has spearheaded the Bobcats’ offense throughout the season and has accounted for a team-high 20 points.
Quinnipiac handily disposed of Princeton when the two teams faced off on consecutive days in early December by scores of 3-1 and 3-0.
Harvard’s penalty kill as of late has lacked the intensity that characterized it earlier this season. In its first eight games of the year, the Crimson allowed opponents to score only two goals on power plays. But in its last two games, Harvard has surrendered five goals while down a man.
After sitting atop the ECAC in penalty killing percentage for much of the season, the Crimson finds itself ranked eighth in the conference at 82.1 percent entering Friday’s game.
Harvard has not won since mid-November, and the team will need to hold its opponents to low scores this weekend if it hopes to start the new year off on the right foot.
—Staff writer David Steinbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org