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The Harvard men’s hockey team beat Yale and Princeton this weekend with less-than-perfect efforts. In tonight’s game against No. 1 Boston College, though, the Crimson (2-2-1, 2-2-1 ECACHL) can ill afford any mistakes.
This evening’s showdown with the Eagles in Bright Hockey Center will be shown on CN8, the second of a handful of Harvard games to be broadcast, either regionally or nationally, this season.
Currently sitting atop the national rankings, Boston College (4-1-1, 2-0-1 Hockey East) has suffered just one loss, this coming at the hands of Notre Dame. In that game, the Eagles allowed a shorthanded goal with 15 seconds left on the clock and lost 3-2.
The squad is averaging nearly 20 penalty minutes per game, as well as 3.00 goals, and junior forward Patrick Eaves leads his team in points with a 3-8-11 line.
Boston College kicked off this season with a 6-2 win over reigning champion and current No. 11 Denver. The Eagles also downed No. 9 North Dakota 5-3 and No. 12 Maine 3-1.
Boston College narrowly defeated the Crimson last year, winning 3-2 in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and the Eagles won again in Beanpot action, that time 4-1.
The puck drops tonight at 7 p.m.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
Collegiate. Professional. National. Olympic. You name the level of hockey, and Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 has won on it—as a player. This weekend’s homestand against Yale and Princeton gave the Crimson skipper a new bullet point for the old resume, though—a coaching win. Two of them, in fact.
“It feels good,” Donato said on Friday night, after Harvard earned the coach his first victory with a 3-1, come-from-behind effort over the Bulldogs.
“I think I’m more happy for our guys that they were rewarded for all the effort that they gave,” he added.
It took four games for Donato to notch his first win. The Crimson tied Brown in its season opener after leading 2-0 and dropped road contests to Cornell and Colgate, managing just one goal and 39 shots between the two nights.
This weekend, though, belonged to Harvard. The Crimson followed the Yale contest with an 8-6 pasting of the Tigers—not the prettiest victory, but a victory nonetheless.
The team took a necessary step towards establishing itself at home, and though the weekend did not feature the cleanest play, Harvard proved itself capable of both comebacks and offensive explosions.
Most important, though: the two wins earned the squad four points in the ECACHL standings, and the team now sits in third place with five points.
It’s early in the season yet, and the Crimson has played more division games than have some of its opponents.
Still, though, it’s better to start ahead than play catch-up later in the season.
WHERE’S THE WHISTLE?
With the newfound popularity of the whistle in collegiate hockey rinks around the country, outcomes have come to hinge upon penalties as much as anything else.
In its first three contests, Harvard had averaged eight penalties and 16 minutes per game—nowhere near the top several dozen squads in that category.
Still, said Donato after his team’s 4-1 loss to Colgate, “I think we took a few that we can’t take on the road if we want to be successful.”
In particular, Crimson captain Noah Welch had accrued nine penalties during his team’s initial 0-2-1 stretch—four against Brown, two against Cornell and three against Colgate.
During the weekend’s Ivy homestand, however, the senior did not enter the sin bin once.
Against the Bulldogs, Harvard followed the senior’s lead and racked up just four penalties and killed off three of them; against Princeton, however, the Crimson amassed 10 whistles and let in four goals on seven penalty kill situations.
“I thought that our penalty kill was very much a strong suit in the first few games,” Donato said after the Tigers contest, “but they were able to find a few holes, and they did a good job.”
On the other side of the puck, the Crimson finally broke through on its power play—one which had gone 1-for-17 in the first three games—and converted six times in 18 chances for the weekend.
“We were able to get it going, and we did a good job using a lot of our options,” Donato said of his team’s play with the man-advantage, citing the important of “just in general, getting shots to the net.”
Crimson wing Charlie Johnson, who had said he’d hoped to “get in at some point” against Yale or Princeton, did not see any action this weekend.
The junior, sidelined with an injury to the AC joint in his right shoulder, has not played since the Bears game, but he was listed day-to-day as long as two weekends ago.
Meanwhile, forward Ryan Maki will be sidelined tonight with what he described as “torn cartilage in [his] ribs.”
The sophomore skated a bit on Saturday but indicated that he had experienced trouble with lateral movement, and specifically shooting.
His classmate Steve Mandes sat out the Princeton game for reasons he deemed “just precautionary. It’s nothing too major.”
The sophomore had been surprised by a hit the previous night—“it startled me a bit,” he admitted—and he lay prone on the ice for several moments before skating to the bench with the help of teammates Ryan Lannon and Kevin Du.
Mandes expected to be “ready to go” against Boston College tonight.
—Staff writer Rebecca A. Seesel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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