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BOSTON, Mass.—The finishing touches were put on the 2003-2004 men’s hockey season last night at the Harvard Club of Boston. Amidst a sometimes tearful send-off to the squad’s nine seniors and the announcement of the team awards and the new captain, a positive note was sounded for next season.
Currently a junior defenseman, and now the 109th captain of the Harvard Crimson, Noah Welch vowed that the team would not again be satisfied with winning the ECAC Championship and just making the NCAA Tournament.
“The best part of [being named captain] is that it comes from the team,” Welch said. “It’s the best award I’ve gotten in all my years playing hockey because it’s from my teammates.”
In selecting Welch, the Harvard players chose a defenseman as their team captain for the third time in four years to have. Over 85 career games, Welch has 19 goals and 28 assists, and last year he was named a second team All-American. He succeeds senior Kenny Smith, the 108th captain of the Harvard Crimson.
“Noah is a tremendous natural leader, he’s been that way ever since he got here as a freshman,” Smith said.
“Noah has tremendous leadership skills,” said Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni. “He has the undivided respect of our team. And he has the ability to affect our team in a very positive way and have the team follow him.”
“He’s really going to lead this team to great things,” Smith agreed.
Assisting Welch will be new assistant captains juniors Tom Cavanagh and Ryan Lannon.
Like its captaincy, the postseason awards of the Harvard hockey team are awarded based on the vote of the players, and the team chose to honor three players with its four postseason awards.
Kevin Du was awarded the George Percy Award, a recognition given to the member of the freshman class that displays enthusiasm, sportsmanship, spirit and loyalty. Du finished the year with six goals and four assists and drew regular shifts on the Crimson’s penalty kill unit.
Du’s classmate Ryan Maki was dubbed Harvard’s most improved player, and given the Donald Angier Hockey Trophy on that account. Maki started his rookie year in Cambridge slowly, with only two assists to his credit mid-way through February. But at the end of the season, Maki began to blossom, over a four game stretch that included Harvard’s final regular season weekend and its opening round ECAC playoff against Vermont, Maki scored three goals and added an assist. He spent much of the last part of the season on the team’s top line with junior Brendan Bernakevitch and senior Dennis Packard.
The team’s last two awards—the John Tudor Memorial Cup (MVP) and the “Cooney” Weiland Award (team spirit and competitiveness)—went to assistant captain Tyler Kolarik. The Crimson’s heart and soul enjoyed the most productive season of his career, scoring 30 points to finish a four-year stint with 115 points in 130 games played. Kolarik was his usual instrumental self on the team’s top power play and penalty kill units, but added another aspect of leadership by example in his play alongside freshman linemates Du and Steve Mandes.
Also released at last night’s banquet was the 2004-2005 schedule, a slate that includes a number of tough out of conference games, some long distance holiday trips, and a number of appealing home games that will hopefully draw sizable crowds to Bright Hockey Center.
The season opens, as it always does, against Brown, this time in a 7 p.m. contest at Meehan Auditorium on October 29th. The following night is a home exhibition against the U.S. Under-18 National Team, and then the season begins in earnest with a road trip to Colgate and Cornell.
Among the many highlights on the home schedule is a date with Boston College on Tuesday November 16th and a December 11th rematch against national runner-up Maine. The Crimson plays another Hockey East foe, Boston University, at Walter Brown Arena on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
A long post-turkey trek to the North Country will be challenging, as will an appearance at the Mariucci Classic (commercially known as the Dodge Caravan Classic) against Northern Michigan and either Minnesota or Merrimack.
The Crimson will face Northeastern in the opening night of the Beanpot on February 7th, which creates the possibility that Harvard could end its long hiatus from competing for the Beanpot Championship.
—Staff writer Timothy M. McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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