Harvard Preview

Harvard Crimson 3-3-2 (2-3-2)  ECAC T-5th


Massachusetts Minutemen 4-7-3 (2-6-3)  Hockey East T-9th

It’s about friggin time.  When UMass and Harvard agreed to a home and home back before the 2003-04 season it seemed like a pretty good idea.  After all a good Hockey East-ECAC matchup between two in-state teams would benefit both programs.  So UMass made the trip out to Cambridge that year and lost 5-3 in what I remember from the radio call as being a very physical game. Well 7 (seven!) years after originally scheduled the Crimson are finally making good on the back end of the home and home.  I never got the full story on why the return game wasn’t played more promptly.  Perhaps it’s because Harvard switched coaches the following year and Teddy Donato wanted a different type of schedule.  Perhaps it’s that UMass did really well that season they played, nearly taking the Hockey East crown the following March and Harvard wanted no part of taking a chance to lose to the upstart state university from the commonwealth.  Whatever the reason, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  Considering these Massachusetts programs date back over a 100 years, it’s amazing to think that tomorrow will be just the 8th time they’ve ever met and only the 2nd time Harvard will visit UMass (though they did play an NCAA game at the Mullins Center since then).

Harvard comes into tomorrow perhaps doing a little better than expected.  The team has only averaged 10 wins in the past three seasons, so to be .500 through their first 8 has to be thought of as a positive for Crimson fans.  They’ve had some success in the ECAC, beating Colgate and Clarkson while tying Dartmouth and UMass’ last foe Quinnpiac.  Then there was the recent game against UNH.  It looked like it’d be a laugher when the Wildcats went up 4-0 after one period.  But the Crimson would score 7 of the next 8 to take a 7-5 lead and ultimate pick up the win 7-6.

That game certainly helped their offensive stats.  The Crimson are 2nd in the ECAC in scoring with 3.38 goals per game and boast the top power play in the country at 28.6%.  Senior Alex Killorn is the one to watch for on the power play as 3 of his team leading 5 goals have come with the extra man.  Junior Alex Fallstrom and freshman Colin Blackwell have both chipped in 3 goals apiece while junior defenseman Danny Biega is averaging almost an assist a game.

The Crimson are bi-polar when it comes to special teams though as their penalty kill is actually dead last among DI hockey clubs, stopping just 68.8% of opponents’ chances.  They find themselves near the bottom of teams in terms of goals allowed as well with 3.38, just ahead of UMass’ 3.43.  They have gotten some good defensive play from their blueliners however, namely Biega and Dan Ford.  A lot of the problems with opponent scoring has been the disparity among their goaltenders.  Sophomore Raphael Girard has struggled in his three starts, giving up 4.65 goals a game while freshman Steve Michalek has performed much better, with a goals against of just over 3 and near a .900 save percentage.

UMass has a lot of areas they can address directly after Saturday’s loss to Quinnpiac.  First is faceoffs.  They need to find a way to win more of them.  Hopefully at least half of them.  And then they need to make sure they’re positioned correctly coming out of them.  Secondly, the power play must get back on track.  It’s good that the power play scoreless streak stopped short of two dozen, but it took a five on three to do it.  I think they’re thinking too much about trying to get the perfect shot.  Screw that.  Shoot and attack the net.  Or attack the net and shoot.  Whatever is easiest.  This team was doing well when they were getting the puck into the slot, attacking the net from the corners and pulling the defense out of position, or just getting the puck on the goaltender and letting someone sweep the rebound home.  Hopefully Danny Hobbs is back healthy to aid that last option, as it’s one of his strengths.   The home cooking of the Mullins Center, where the team is undefeated, should help give them some confidence that seems to be lacking given their body language on the ice.  On this week’s radio show Steven Guzzo, Troy Power, and coach Toot Cahoon all mentioned how much they enjoy playing in the Mullins in front of an energetic student crowd, so hopefully they can make the most of it.  As Ben Affleck’s character Chuckie says in Good Will Hunting, let’s fuck up some smart kids.

Beer The Triangle
I’m happy to report that sources close to Fear The Triangle say that Café Racer 15 is back on tap at the Hangar.  I’ll admit it, this beer is pricey.  But it just may be the best one that Bear Republic Brewing makes.  And that’s saying a lot.  Across the street at ABC it appears that they have Stone’s Double Bastard on draft.  Too much Bastardness?  No way.

The Collegian previews tomorrow’s game.

College Hockey News looks at the weekend ahead in Hockey East.

This article from his hometown paper covers how freshman Zack LaRue is loving life at UMass.  I cannot say how great it is to see an article like this.  First, I’m glad LaRue is happy with the choice he made to come to Amherst of course.  Secondly, to see this kind of positive coverage come out of the Canadian media, where usually major junior is portrayed as the end all be all and the NCAA route to pro hockey is ignored, is excellent.

Here’s an interesting piece from College Hockey News showing the different fates of two programs that a few years ago were similarly situated, Merrimack and Alabama-Huntsville.

Here’s a heartwarming Thanksgiving edition of One Moore Minute.  Friends, family, and sandwiches.  The good things in life:

Once again for those who missed my tweet last week, Eric Filiou absolutely won UMass’ Movember.