Men's Hockey: NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch

Published by Jake Meagher on March 22, 2015 at 3:40AM
NCAA Tournament Scenarios

The Harvard men's ice hockey team beat Colgate, 4-2, to win the ECAC title. The Crimson also earned an automatic NCAA tournament bid with the win.

With just one game of ECAC hockey left to be played, the Harvard men’s ice hockey team has the NCAA tournament in its sights. Having beaten top-seeded Quinnipiac, 5-2, on Friday to advance to the conference championship game, the Crimson has an 81 percent chance of advancing past this weekend according to College Hockey News. Here, The Back Page takes a look at some of the possible scenarios where Harvard can advance.

All listed rankings reflect the latest Pairwise rankings, a highly predictive method of determining which 16 teams will advance to the NCAA tournament. The 16-team field officially will be announced on Sunday at noon. All times are listed in EST.

If the Crimson can pull out a win on Saturday, it can put its calculators away. With a victory over No. 13 Colgate in the ECAC title game tonight, Harvard will secure an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Crimson currently ranks 11th in the Pairwise but could move up to as high as 8th, which would likely give Harvard a two-seed in the tournament next weekend.

If the Crimson loses, Colgate will instead punch its ticket to the tournament. However, Harvard’s season still has a good chance of continuing. But the Crimson’s fate will lie in the hands of several teams around college hockey.


Jimmy Vesey Named ECAC Player of the Year

Published by Kurt T. Bullard on March 21, 2015 at 9:39PM

In Jimmy Vesey's freshman season, he saw the Crimson rank last in goals in the ECAC. The next year, Harvard jumped only one spot. 

That changed this season in dramatic fashion, in large part due to the efforts of the junior forward. Those outside of Cambridge have taken notice.  

Before taking the ice for the ECAC Men’s Hockey Tournament semifinal matchup against No. 7/7 Quinnipiac, Vesey was named the ECAC Media Association Player of the Year.

The Nashville Predators’ draft pick has been the moving force for the No. 18/- Crimson offense this season. The junior has accounted for 28 goals and 26 assists through the first period of the team’s semifinal matchup against the Bobcats, leading the conference in goals and points. The output of the first-line—which matched him with junior co-captain Kyle Criscuolo and, when healthy, sophomore Alexander Kerfoot—is a large reason why Harvard boasts the highest-scoring offense in the conference with an average of more than three-and-a-quarter goals per contest. 

The forward started off the year with a 21-game point streak, which was only broken when the Crimson was shut out in its third matchup against No. 19/- Yale. He registered a point in all but three games this season.

Vesey’s output was not only large in quantity, but also timely, providing clutch goals for his team. He notched both game-winners in the ECAC quarterfinals against Yale, including the game-deciding goal in double overtime of the rubber match that sent the Crimson to Lake Placid. He also added six points in the two-game sweep of Brown in the first-round series.

This year’s campaign for the North Reading, Mass. native came after he was named to the All-Ivy League second team his sophomore season where he registered 13 goals and nine assists.

Vesey was earlier named Ivy League Player of the Year and to the All-Ivy first team for his efforts this season.

Vesey was not the only member of the Crimson to garner accolades. Fellow classmates and linemate Kyle Criscuolo was named Student-Athlete of the Year, recognizing his off-the-ice accomplishments in conjunction with his performance on the ice. The co-captain ranks fifth in goals in the conference and third in assists, many of which led to Vesey goals.

Despite his prolonged absence during the season, junior defenseman Patrick McNally was named to the second All-ECAC team for the second consecutive season. The Milton Academy graduate has averaged exactly a point per game in the 18 contests for which he has dressed this year.

—Staff writer Kurt T. Bullard can be reached at

Danny Biega '13 Makes NHL Debut for the Hurricanes

Published by Michael D. Ledecky on March 21, 2015 at 3:47AM
Biega cover

Former Crimson men's ice hockey standout Danny Biega '13 made his NHL debut on Thursday.

Danny Biega ’13 made his NHL debut for the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night in Montreal.

The former Harvard defenseman, captain, and third-round draft pick was called up from the Charlotte Checkers to play his first NHL game, in which the Hurricane’s lost, 4-0, to the Montreal Canadiens, Biega’s hometown team.

Biega recorded 14:26 minutes of ice time and a minus-2 rating. He is the third Harvard men’s hockey alum to make an NHL debut this year.

His brother, former Harvard captain and defenseman Alex Biega ’10, played seven games with the Vancouver Canucks in late February and early March, recording the game-winning goal in his first appearance on Feb. 16.

On Feb. 24, former Harvard captain and defenseman Dylan Reese ’07 played in a road game for the Arizona Coyotes.

Biega is the 28th Harvard hockey alum to play in an NHL Game. As a junior, he earned first-team All-America honors while placing second nationally among defensemen in points per game. Since turning professional, he has recorded 32 points in 130 games with Charlotte in the American Hockey League.

—Staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at

Overheard in Minneapolis: Women's Ice Hockey's Frozen Four Press Conference

Published by Caleb Lee on March 20, 2015 at 10:27PM
Ice Time

The Harvard women's ice hockey team will take the ice Friday evening at 9 p.m. at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

With Harvard's NCAA Frozen Four semifinal matchup against crosstown foe Boston College less than a day away, The Back Page presents some of the key quotes from Thursday afternoon's press conference in Minneapolis.

From Harvard coach Katey Stone’s opening statement:

“We are certainly very pleased to be here. We haven’t played in Minnesota during this time of year in a handful of years so it is nice to be back.”

The Back Page: This is the Crimson’s first NCAA Frozen Four appearance since 2008, and sixth in program history. In that 2008 season, Harvard beat Dartmouth in the first round, 5-1, before falling to Wisconsin by a 4-1 score in the semis. Since then, the Crimson qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2013, but dropped first round games against Cornell and who else but Boston College, respectively.

Stone, on if the last two games against BC will affect Harvard emotionally:

“I can only speak on our kids and it is just another hockey game on the road toward our ultimate goal. It doesn’t matter whether we are playing BC or Minnesota or Wisconsin.”

TBP: Arguably, the 10-2 embarrassment at the hands of the Eagles was a season-defining turning point for the Crimson. Coming into that game, Harvard had gone 0-1-2 and had squandered quality chances to net the game winner in both ties. But following the blowout loss to the Eagles, Harvard rattled off 10 straight wins. And since the Crimson’s Beanpot final win over BC, the Queens of Boston have gone 7-1-1.


The Keys To Victory for Men's Basketball

Published by David Freed on March 19, 2015 at 6:32PM

As covered earlier this week, the Harvard men’s basketball team (22-7, 11-3 Ivy) is being seen a substantial underdog to its first-round NCAA opponent—the North Carolina Tar Heels (24-11, 11-7 ACC). Below, men’s basketball beat writer David Freed looks at the five things Harvard needs to do to pull off the upset.

1. Control the Pace: In today’s media sessions, the top main topics were the pace of the game and the ability of the Tar Heels to control the boards. UNC likes to get out and run, where its athleticism can overcome opponents and generate early looks in transition. The Tar Heels just 1-5 in games with fewer than 65 possessions, whereas Harvard averages just 63.8 possessions a game. If the Crimson can keep the game slow, minimizing turnovers, they can keep a potent UNC offense in check.

2. Stop Marcus Paige: The heart and soul of the Tar Heels is junior point guard Marcus Paige, the team’s best perimeter scorer. Paige will be checked by a litany of Harvard defenders, likely starting with 6’0” starting point guard Siyani Chambers. Chambers guarded Yale combo guard Javier Duren for many of the final two contests with Yale and has improved vastly as a defender in year three. If he does not excel here, however, Harvard’s chances will fall from slim to none.

3. Hold its Own on the Glass: Against a team that ranked second in Division I in rebounding, it is crucial Harvard be able to keep defensive possessions to one shot. UNC boasts length, depth, and size across its front line, while Harvard often eschews defensive rebounding to send people (read: junior Agunwa Okolie) out in transition. Junior wing Wesley Saunders and co-captain Steve Moundou-Missi are the team’s two best rebounding rotation players and the two keys to the game. On the other side, Harvard will likely eschew rebounding to send extra players back in transition, as stopping the Tar Heel break is a priority for the squad.

4. Bench and Balance: Harvard coach Tommy Amaker is often quoted with these two words, his personal keys to the Harvard offense. Against a deep UNC squad, Harvard will need both its bench to provide solid minutes and support its big three—Chambers, Moundou-Missi, and Saunders—who will not overcome the Tar Heels on their own.

5. Regress To The Mean: In its biggest games of the year, Harvard’s shot has failed it when it needed it most. Two brutal three-point shooting performances against Yale were preceded by brick fests against Virginia and Boston College. Saunders went a combined four-of-26 in the two games, while the Crimson as a team shot just 24.5 percent. While some credit is due to the defenses of the opposing squads, Harvard missed a number of wide-open shots in each contest—against the Cavaliers in particular, the Crimson generated a series of early good looks. If the percentages revert back to the mean, Harvard will defy many of the doubters about its offense.  

—Staff writer David Freed can be reached at