November 15, 2007
Maturity, Experience Bolster Harvard in Strong Start

By Joe Gladziszewski

Harvard, and most Ivy League institutions in ECAC Hockey, recruit a different type of player. While they're always in pursuit of big-time talents from established junior leagues in the United States and Canada, they know that they need to recruit players with respectable academic backgrounds as well. A crafty centerman from Kamloops may have the skills necessary to make it at Harvard, but not the grades.

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Harvard's Mike Taylor is tied with fellow senior Jon Pelle and sophomore Doug Rogers for the team lead in scoring with four points.

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As a result, Harvard's roster tends to be comprised of younger players than some of the opponents' rosters. The reason it matters is because maturity needs to be developed – both physical maturity and hockey maturity.

Harvard senior forward Mike Taylor is an example of what can happen when maturity and confidence come together over a four-year career. He and his classmates have all experienced it to some extent, and now Harvard has charged into the INCH Power Rankings and toward the top of ECAC Hockey.

Taylor came to Harvard from Academy of the Holy Angels in Minnesota and was a finalist for the state's Mr. Hockey Award. His credentials were strong, but he only had six points in 31 games as a freshman. He then tallied five goals and eight points as a sophomore.

"When you come out of high school, into college hockey, you're trying to prove yourself and to be energetic and physical every shift. You lack experience and there are some nerves, and it gets harder when you're not scoring, especially after scoring a lot of goals in high school," Taylor said.

Taylor rediscovered his scoring touch last season with 10 goals and 21 points. Once the calendar turned to December, Taylor really heated up. He had five goals in a three-game span and earned a spot on the Great Lakes Invitational All-Tournament Team.

It's a similar story for other players, and it's led to Harvard having a balanced offense. Through four games this year, the Crimson have scored 16 goals, and only two players have more than one tally.

"We definitely knew that depth would be one of our assets coming into the year. We had a lot of forwards who came into their own last year, and we've stepped into bigger roles this season," Taylor said. "It was that way for a lot of guys, where it took a couple of years to take that step up into a larger scoring role. You develop confidence."

Defensively, sophomore goalie Kyle Richter has been stellar. He has back-to-back shutouts and allowed just two goals in a loss at Clarkson and one goal in a win at St. Lawrence. His consistency early on has come with some help from a defensive group that is high on talent but lacks a ton of collegiate experience, with one senior (co-captain Dave MacDonald) and four of the top-six not being old enough to legally puchase alcohol in the United States. Both the defensemen and the forwards have done a good job of playing in their own end of the rink.

Now, another test awaits the Crimson. Cornell visits Bright Hockey Center this weekend.

"It's a huge game every time we play these guys," Taylor said. "It's a fun game for both teams and it means a lot."


On The Road Again: Colgate will try to do something this weekend that it hasn't done yet this season, and that is to win a game in its opponent's home stadium. The Raiders are 0-4-0 so far this year, with a pair of losses at Michigan State and last week's defeats at Brown and Yale. It doesn't get any easier for Colgate this week, with tilts at Dartmouth and Harvard.

For the Raiders to break out of this funk, they'll need to be better defensively, as former ECAC Hockey Dryden Award-winner Mark Dekanich has just an .892 save percentage in his nine starts this season. Colgate has eight players with two goals or more on the year, led by freshman Brian Day with seven. Seniors Tyler Burton and Jesse Winchester are meeting their expected average of roughly a point-per-game, but it's not been turning into results for the Raiders.

Off the ice, there's lots of good news around the Colgate program. Plans for a new rink, or a significant renovation of Starr Rink, are still in the works and are being reviewed by the university's board of trustees.

At the recent Silver Puck Banquet, the team announced the creation of an endowment in recognition of current coach Don Vaughan. The Donald F. Vaughan Endowed Coaching Chair for Men's Ice Hockey was made possible by several donors, and income from the $2 million endowment will help fund necessary expenses for the hockey program including coaching salaries, recruiting, and expenses.

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Cornell at Harvard
(Friday, 7 p.m.)

When these two teams get together, it's not to be missed. A charged-up environment (not always common at Bright Hockey Center) should bring the best out of both teams. Cornell has some momentum after winning twice last weekend, and has improved throughout the year. Harvard's one of the hottest teams in the nation. It should be a good one.

While You're There: Stick around for Saturday's doubleheader. The Harvard women's team hosts Brown at 2 p.m. and the Crimson men host Colgate at 7 p.m. In between games, Harvard Square is host to plenty of shopping and dining options, and there are smart people hanging around.

Stick Salute

This is college-hockey related, but not related specifically to ECAC Hockey. The early leader for understatement of the year is Michigan State coach Rick Comley, speaking on advantages that Enrico Blasi and his staff may have in recruiting players to Miami University: "It's a great campus to recruit to and players really like to go there."

If you've been there, you know.

Bench Minor

The Harvard student paper is waving the white flag, and lamenting that the scheduling of Saturday's football game at Yale will prohibit many athletics-loving students from attending Friday's hockey game against Cornell, giving the Big Red fans an attendance advantage at Bright Hockey Center. Football game or not, it wouldn't matter.


• St. Lawrence goalie John Hallas, a graduate student at SLU, probably didn't have a lot of expectations for playing time entering the season, after getting just one start and six appearances during his first three years of eligibility. He played just 27 seconds as a junior. Things have changed this year, as he's been given two starts and has won both of them. He shutout Union on Oct. 27 and also got the start at Princeton last Friday, where he made 31 saves on 34 shots in a 4-3 win for the Saints.

• Touted Cornell freshman Riley Nash scored his first two collegiate goals, one in each game, in wins over Yale and Brown last weekend. Nash's goal against Brown drew lots of attention, on an individual effort he carried the puck from the neutral zone, beating several defenders before scoring.

• Steve Zalewski's four-goal game in Clarkson's win at Princeton on Saturday afternoon was the first four-goal game for the Golden Knights in more than 11 years. The last player to accomplish the feat was current Clarkson assistant coach Jean-Francois Houle (against Brown in March of 1996). He was the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week.

• Yale sophomore forward Mark Arcobello had two goals and three assists for five points in Yale's 6-4 win over Colgate on Sunday, in a game that was televised on ESPNU. Continued scoring from Arcobello can only help the Bulldogs, as Sean Backman also returned to the scoresheet last weekend, with a goal in each game. Backman missed the first two games of the season due to injury and didn't score in his first two games back on the ice.

• Rensselaer and Union have this weekend off, and return to action after Thanksgiving. The Engineers host their annual tournament, welcoming in American International, Notre Dame, and Alabama-Huntsville. Union has a Sunday evening game at Massachusetts on Nov. 25.

• Union freshman forward Luke Cain, who was off to a strong start as a rookie, suffered a third-period leg injury in last week's game at Dartmouth and is out for the rest of the season. It was just the start of a bad weekend for the Dutchmen, who were shutout twice on the road.

• Dartmouth senior forward J.T. Wyman leads the team in scoring with nine points through five games. Fellow senior Nick Johnson ranks second with four points. No surprise there. But three players are tied with Johnson, and they are all freshmen – Scott Fleming, Matt Reber, and Evan Stephens. Another freshman, Kyle Reeds, stands next on the list with three points.

• Brown plays this weekend at St. Lawrence and Clarkson, and it's a trip that most teams don't look forward to. For the Bears, the timing is great, as mechanical problems at their own home rink, Meehan Auditorium, have forced the relocation of a pair of scheduled Brown women's ice hockey games this weekend.

• Travel partners Quinnipiac and Princeton play their next three games against one another. The first is Saturday at Quinnipiac, and it's a non-league game. The teams will also meet Wednesday at Princeton and again next Saturday afternoon at Quinnipiac in games that count toward the ECAC Hockey standings.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report. Joe Gladziszewski can be reached at