Traditionally, when the Beanpot hockey tournament
begins slightly after 5 p.m. on the first Monday in February,
the arena in which it is played is sparsely populated. Some
of the die-hard fans, students, parents, and pep band members
populate the TD Banknorth Garden, but many of the other
attendees are still making their way to the arena or enjoying
dinner or other pre-game refreshments.
Jon Pelle assisted on Harvard's first goal in a rambunctious
start for the Crimson in Monday's Beanpot win over
The prompt attendees saw a display on Monday
the likes of which Harvard hasn't shown yet this season.
The others, hopefully, caught it on television. Harvard
ferociously forechecked Northeastern and scored three goals
in the first 7:02 of Monday evening's Beanpot semifinal,
seemingly faster than the automated announcer on the T can
say, "Next stop North Station, connection to Orange
Not only was the three-goal splurge significant,
as it was the first time they've scored that many in a period
since early November, but it was telling, as the Crimson
is undefeated (5-0-2) when scoring at least three times
in a game this year.
The manner in which the goals were scored
was even more noteworthy as each was scored from within
a stick blade's length of the blue paint. Crashing the net
with wraparound attempts and jamming at loose pucks gave
the Crimson a 3-0 lead.
"The goals have not been coming easy
for us this year, and in order to get them we've got to
get the messy ones, or the dirty ones as coach likes to
call them," Harvard senior forward Jon Pelle said.
"The pretty plays will come and we can score goals
like that, but it starts with the messy ones."
Pelle started the play on Harvard's first
goal, which was finished by senior classmate Paul Dufault.
It got the Crimson off to a good start and they frustrated
Northeastern for the rest of the night, making it a pretty
easy night for goalie Kyle Richter in the 3-1 win.
Early goals based on effort, for one of the
10 lowest scoring teams in the country, set a strong tone
and hammered home some of the lessons that Harvard's been
learning in an up-and-down season.
After a great start, Harvard went winless
for a stretch of nearly two months. After returning from
exam break with a win over Dartmouth, a 4-2 defeat at last-place
Brown (just Brown's second win of the season) could've damaged
the Crimson's confidence. Instead, they refocused for a
meaningful rivalry game in Boston's biggest college hockey
event and came away with the victory.
"It was extremely frustrating because
we played some games that we could've won and there were
some that we didn't do the things we needed to do to win,"
Pelle said. "We tried to stay positive, but also realized
that sometimes we didn't deserve to."
Dufault said it was a matter of earning some
respect. Once Harvard fell out of the national rankings
in the early part of the year, they were forgotten about.
Even through an extended slump, the Crimson still have an
opportunity to make this a memorable season.
"We've hit some adversity this year but
guys were really feeling upbeat for the most part. When
we went into the Beanpot people were talking about BC, BU,
and Northeastern and we were not getting much respect, so
we wanted to make more of a statement," Dufault said.
"Outside of the Christmas tournament, all of the goals
we set at the beginning of the season are still at hand.
Despite our up and down season, we're not out of it yet
and we're making strides for the rest of the year."
Throughout the year, Harvard learned what
kind of a team it has to be, and that it is defined by its
forecheck. If they can pressure the opposing team into making
mistakes and generating chances in the offensive zone, and
keep things simple in the defensive zone and neutral zone,
the Crimson has its best chance at being successful.
Oh yeah, there's the thing about scoring goals
too, which Dufault discussed with Harvard assistant coach
"I was talking to Coach McCann and told
him that I was watching highlights on NHL.com of all the
goals that are scored. Of course you see Ovechkin toe-dragging
a guy or Kovalchuk exploding and scoring, but of the goals
I was watching, 80 percent of them are scored below the
hash marks," Dufault said. "In general, that's
where the goals are scored. You have to pay the price and
we needed to do the same thing."
Before Monday's Beanpot title tilt against
Boston College, Harvard faces an important ECAC Hockey contest
against Union in Schenectady on Friday. The Crimson knows
what it needs to do to be successful against both teams.
Applying those lessons could give Harvard a boost on a team
that sits just three points ahead of it in the ECAC Hockey
standings and a Beanpot championship for the first time
SEEN AND HEARD IN ECAC HOCKEY
Don't Go Changin': In compiling
these notebooks since the start of the new year, the topic
of home-ice advantage has come up in several conversations.
Of course the comforts of a home locker room, familiar lodging,
no travel, and a supportive crowd are all of great value
in the playoffs. On the ice, the primary benefit is that
the home team gets the last change and has the option to
match lines against its opposition.
For some coaches, it's a huge advantage, especially
if they can line up a pair of stalwart defensemen or a strong
checking line against the other team's top forwards. For
some coaches, it's a non-issue, as they don't want to disrupt
the flow of the game and distract the players from actually
going out on the ice and performing well.
Pay attention to line matching when you're
at the rink over the next several weeks, and keep some of
these things in mind when observing the coaching chess match:
Is a team too worried about
matchups, and not worrying enough about getting its best
players on the ice for a regular shift? The visiting team
may give more playing time to its shutdown guys to limit
the ice time of the top players for the home team. By
altering rhythm, they're actually winning the matchup
Line matching isn't solely
based on defensive advantages. A team can find offensive
mismatches that it wants to exploit, and get a group of
players out against an opposing team with the intention
to get scoring chances and opportunities.
Changing the game plan on
the fly. A team can go into a game planning to match one
group against an opponent. After realizing it's not working,
they may try a different strategy.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Clarkson, Fri.
Colgate at Clarkson, Sat.
These are the questions that will be
answered this weekend at Cheel. Will Clarkson rebound
from a tough trip out west? How good is Cornell –
top-four good? Or just middle-of-the-pack good? Can
Colgate get some momentum early in February for the
knows that it's gotta stay out of the penalty box
against Boston College on Monday, but that doesn’t
mean the Crimson will play soft. "I texted my
buddy Pat Gannon over at BC last night and told him
that he better keep his head up," Paul Dufault
of success coming to an end are never an easy thing
to embrace. Rensselaer had been unbeaten in 17 straight
Big Red Freakout! games, with a 12-0-5 record prior
to Princeton's 4-0 win at Houston Field House on Saturday
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• Congratulations to Brown on getting
a pair of weekend wins over Harvard and Dartmouth. The victories
were Brown's second and third of the season and were highlighted
by the Bears offense coming to life with four goals in each
game. Aaron Volpatti, Sean Hurley, and David Robertson each
had three points for Brown on the weekend, and Brown is
now 3-0-1 when scoring four or more goals this season. The
Bears travel to Princeton on Friday night and play a Sunday
matinee game at Quinnipiac this weekend.
• Quinnipiac got big nights from individual
players in a three-point weekend in the Capital District.
Eric Lampe scored all three goals in a 3-2 win at Rensselaer
and Jamie Bates had three points in a 3-3 tie at Union the
• Calendar 2008 has been great to Union
and Cornell. Since the start of the New Year, Union is 8-1-1
and Cornell is 7-2-1. Keys to both of those streaks can
be found on home ice, as the Dutchmen have gone 5-0-1 at
Messa Rink since Jan. 1 and the Big Red is 5-1-1 at Lynah
in that time.
• Colgate coach Don Vaughan is a graduate
of St. Lawrence, and will coach the Raiders at Appleton
Arena on Friday night seeking his 250th career victory as
a head coach.
• Brock McBride's power-play goal in
a 4-4 tie at Niagara last weekend was his 10th goal of the
season and also snapped an 0-for-29 drought on the power
play for the Saints.
• Princeton's 4-0 win at Rensselaer
in the Big Red Freakout! was Zane Kalemba's second shutout
of the season, and he earned this one with 41 saves on the
• Yale got a 6-3 win over Dartmouth
and Matt Thomey continued his recent scoring spree with
two more points in the win over the Big Green.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Joe Gladziszewski can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.