Albany Key to ECAC Revenge and Reward

Only once this season did the No. 8 Harvard men’s hockey team lose two games to the same squad, and only once did the Crimson fall at home. Plenty to feel good about—except the team that knocked Harvard off twice, including the latter’s only Bright Hockey Center loss, is the same squad the Crimson will face tonight in the semifinals of the ECAC tournament: Colgate.

Backed by a defense that clogs its own zone and a goaltender, Steve Silverthorn, who is allowing only 1.76 goals per game, the Raiders (24-9-3, 14-5-3) did not lose a weekend series all year. Its defensive corps, which allows just 1.86 tallies per contest, is tied for third in the nation.

“They’ll make you work for what you get,” Harvard assistant captain Tom Cavanagh said.

And the struggling Crimson squad that entered its first Raiders matchup on Nov. 6 with just two games under its belt—a 2-2 tie with Brown and a 2-0 loss to Cornell—well, it got nothing.

“We were just trying to figure out where we were at,” said Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91 of the early, 4-1 loss. “We got outplayed pretty bad the night before in Cornell, so it was a little bit of a gut-check for us the first time we played Colgate.”

Harvard was outshot 40-22 that night and went 0-for-5 on its power play, but, said Donato,“I’d like to think we’re a much improved team from then.”

In fact, Harvard was already much improved team when it got a second crack at the Raiders, this time in Cambridge on Jan. 7.

Despite an exhausted and disappointing performance in the Dodge Holiday Classic right before break, Harvard had recently beaten Vermont, Maine, Boston University, and Boston College—all nationally ranked teams at the time.

But after two weeks of Christmas break, Harvard played a rusty and somewhat sloppy game, taking costly penalties and failing to muster a single shot on goal in the final 15 minutes of the initial frame.

Of that 3-1 loss, Donato admitted, “We really got outplayed for the first period of the game.”

And so the Crimson lost its only pair of contests to the same opponent—something that doesn’t sit well with many skaters in the Harvard locker room.

“We’re looking forward to another crack at them,” said assistant captain Ryan Lannon. “We feel like we owe these guys.”

That’s not to say, though, that either loss was undeserved.

“They shut down our offense pretty successfully,” Lannon said. “You can say that it was the beginning of the season or it was after a long break, but they’re a good team, and they work hard.”

The Raiders’ offense, though not showy in the least, boasts a plus-.86 scoring margin.

With a trio of forwards that has combined for 90 points—Tyler Burton, Jon Smyth, and Adam Mitchell—Colgate certainly has its weapons.