The Harvard men’s hockey team started off last season in a rut, dropping 15 of its first 18 contests. But something clicked in February, and the Crimson finished the year on a tear en route to a 12-21-1 (7-14-1 ECAC) record.
“Overall, our record last year was not where we wanted it to be,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “But I think at the end of the year … we pulled it together and really finished very strongly and had a good showing at the playoffs.”
Even after the Crimson’s momentum carried the team to a strong—and surprising—finish, the team still feels it can learn from last year’s early woes.
In a schedule that pairs the Crimson with ECAC foes from the first game of the season, there is little margin of error.
“If we just work hard and get our power play going right off the beginning, we’ll see much more success,” senior forward Alex Killorn said.
The team looks to benefit from a strong freshman class, highlighted by five NHL draft picks.
This year’s new crop should bolster the team in a number of dimensions, as it features a good balance of forwards and defensemen and a strong goaltender.
Even before the start of the year, the freshmen have already made an impact, tallying four assists in Harvard’s 7-4 win over Western Ontario in an exhibition.
The Crimson begins its regular season next week with a series of home games, kicking the year off on Nov. 4 against Princeton, a team coming off a solid 17-win campaign. The next day, the team takes on Quinnipiac, a squad that had a middling finish in the ECAC standings a year ago.
In addition to pulling its game together in the season’s early contests, the team will also focus on playing as a cohesive group.
Despite some concerns, Donato remains confident that his team can buck recent historical trends.
“We feel that we have some guys that have some talent and have some ability to make plays in pressure situations that will be beneficial for us immediately,” Donato said.
The team will have to come together quickly to prepare for a perennially anticipated contest, a game at home against rival Cornell on Nov. 11.
After travelling to Princeton on Dec. 10, the team takes a long break for finals and Christmas, not seeing action again until Dec. 30.
And heading into the new year, Harvard will face one of its toughest stretches of the season. On Jan. 6, the Crimson hosts Union, which finished atop the ECAC standings during last year’s regular season.