Travel Partner Fun
Harvard will have a chance to avenge its season-opening loss to Brown this weekend as the travel partners face off at Meehan Auditorium on Saturday night. Earlier in the season, the Bears stunned the then nationally-ranked Crimson in Cambridge with a 4-2 victory. What was more surprising that night: the fact that highly-touted Harvard lost or Brown won a game so early? As time has passed, the truth of that night has come out. Harvard is trying to grow into its shoes, while the Bears are a much-improved team this season.
Saturday night will be especially interesting following the weekend both teams had. The Crimson should have the word “cardiac” attached to the front of its name after pulling out a win and tie in the waning seconds of both contests.
“Our kids showed tremendous resiliency,” said Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni. “It was an even played game. What I was proud of we continued to attack. When adversity hit with penalties, we responded with a big kill. We got the big play from our big players.”
And be prepared to see Dom Moore and Tim Pettit return to the power-play unit this Saturday. After being yanked from special teams for poor effort, Moore and Pettit responded with solid performances this past weekend. In fact, Moore found himself on the ice during Harvard’s final power-play opportunities on Saturday night against Clarkson. Obviously, Mazzoleni felt that he had learned his lesson.
One sticking point for Harvard, however, is the fact that its offense is coming from one line: Moore, Kolarik and Rob Fried. That one line accounted for all the team’s goals this past weekend.
“If we are going to continue to make strides, we have to play more of a four-line rotation,” said Mazzoleni. “It’s tough when you play back-to-back games on the collegiate level to play three lines. Especially when your real key, go-to guys kill penalties, play the power play – they tire out.”
Catching Up Or Going Ahead
Yale and Princeton have a chance to get a leg up on the competition. After this weekend is over, both teams will have played 10 ECAC games — one game short of half the league schedule.
This is where both teams will try to get points this weekend as they travel to Union and Rensselaer.
This past weekend, the Princeton Tigers picked up their third win of the season with a 3-2 win over Colgate before falling 4-0 to Cornell.
“We moved the puck well, especially in the second period,” said Princeton coach Len Quesnelle on Friday evening. “We had some point blank opportunities and rebounds that maybe if our sticks were on the ice, they go in the net. When we move our feet, we are able to be effective. I saw our guys really try and work a forecheck in the second period.”
The next night, the Tigers just could not match up with the Big Red.
“Cornell is a good team and we need to measure ourselves against them,” said Quesnelle. “They owned the territorial play, the shots, the grade A chances. Our best simply isn’t good enough against a team like Cornell.”
The Tigers were bolstered by the return of Brad Parsons to the lineup this past weekend and are almost at full strength in terms of injuries. A Tiger team at full strength could make some noise before the Christmas holiday.
In New Haven, the Bulldogs took three points this past weekend with a 1-1 tie with Cornell and a 5-0 whitewashing of Colgate. There was a major reason why the Eli came away with three points.
“We got tremendous goaltending from Dan Lombard,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “That’s the best game he’s had all year. He is in a zone-like state right now. He carried the team on his back tonight.”
Allowing only one goal on the weekend, Lombard is making waves and right now, it is amazingly tough to score on the Elis and Lombard. He has only allowed four goals in the last four games.
The Eli will be taking on Rensselaer on Friday night, as the Engineers look to take the games in hand that they have and turn them into playing catch-up in the ECAC standings. The Engineers got one point in a 1-1 tie with Union this past weekend. Head coach Dan Fridgen was pleased with the performance, but wishes for more offense.
“I’d like to see our execution a little better, but other than that I thought we competed real hard,” he said. “It’s just a matter of executing right now. We’re creating a lot of opportunities and there were a lot of opportunities that we missed. As long as the competitiveness and work ethic is there, the execution will come.”
The combination of Lombard not allowing many goals and the Engineers not executing well could be a good combination for the Bulldogs and a bad one for the Engineers.
Union put together their strongest performance of the year in the 1-1 tie according to head coach Kevin Sneddon. After a 3-0 loss to UMass-Lowell on Wednesday evening, the Dutchmen came back to gain their first points of the ECAC season.
“We had young players in the lineup and we got better as the game went on and that’s a great sign for a younger team. In a high intense game to build as the game goes along,” he said. “There’s no excuses right now, if we want to be a team in contention until the end we have to have that kind of commitment every night we play.
“There were games where we’ve had a tremendous offensive effort and gave up a few easy goals. I don’t think we made many mistakes defensively. And we haven’t had many breakdowns, so that was definitely our best game of the year.”
A Big Test In The North Country
Two teams that probably won’t mind the break from league play are St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Following a weekend series at Harvard and Brown one week ago, the North Country squads return home to their respective barns for non-conference contests. The non-league weekend will give both teams a chance to recover physically and emotionally.
“We keep beating ourselves this year which is really too bad because we have a really good group of guys,” said Clarkson coach Mark Morris following a two-point weekend in which his team scored ties against both Harvard and Brown. “To play this hard on the road and not come up with a win is a tough pill to swallow.”
Clarkson – plagued by spotty scoring and a high number of penalties per game throughout most of this season – saw much of the same against Brown on Friday night. Despite pelting Yann Danis with 33 shots, the Golden Knights managed just one goal – a power-play tally – in 65 minutes of play.
“We’re not playing well right now,” said Morris immediately following the game. “Taking penalties has been killing us. Our guys just aren’t learning.”
Morris is talking about the 16 penalty minutes assessed to his team during that contest, resulting in five power-play opportunities for the Bears. The one goal Brown scored was (no surprise) scored with an extra man on the ice with time running out in the first period. That was all the scoring Brown could muster on the night, but it proved to be enough for one point in the league standings.
The following night, Clarkson appeared poised to score a victory against the Crimson as the visitors held a 2-1 lead heading into the final 10 seconds of regulation. Then Harvard’s Dom Moore scored the game-tying tally with three ticks left on the clock to crush the spirit of the Golden Knights. Although the scoresheet shows both teams with three shots in the overtime period, the momentum was surely on the side of Harvard as Clarkson dodged more than one bullet during that 5-minute extra period and was fortunate to escape with the tie.
“For the majority of 60 minutes we played pretty thoroughly,” said Morris. “Harvard is an opportunistic team and they lit us up on a one-on-one that allowed them in the game. There were a lot of goal posts hit on both sides so it was a pretty even game back and forth.”
When asked about the fact that his team is averaging just over one goal per game in the last six contests, Morris just shakes his head.
“If you look on the scoresheet in what seems like the last month, just to get any goal at all is a major feat for us,” said Morris. “Some of our guys have been real dormant for us in the goal-scoring department. If we don’t play tight defensively and come up with good goaltending, we’re a very average team.”
Another team that met a frustrating fate last weekend was St. Lawrence. The coaching staff knew that it would go through some growing pains this year, but an 0-for weekend against Brown and Harvard was not exactly in the plans. However, compared to the clear frustration of Morris, Saints’ coach Joe Marsh is surprisingly positive.
“There are a lot worse places we could be than here,” said Marsh. “I think we have good character as a team and this will be a test of it now.”
Character and work ethic are two traits that Marsh feels good about this season, and they are two words that you will hear streaming out of Canton quite a bit this year. Despite posting only three wins this year and being in the midst of a four-game losing streak, Marsh is seeing gradual improvement in his troops.
Both losses last weekend were one-goal games and very winnable.
If it wasn’t for Harvard’s last second heroics on Friday night, the Saints probably would have emerged from Cambridge with two points, one at the very least. Instead, Tyler Kolarik netted the game winner with 17 seconds remaining to send the Saints packing.
“That was a great college game,” said Marsh following the Harvard game. “I was really proud of our effort. I thought that we worked extremely hard. It would have been nice to bury that when we had a chance at the end, but that’s the way it goes … I’m just really, really happy with our effort. I think that was the best game that we played all year.”
Make no mistake about it, this is far from coaching rhetoric. Marsh sees his team as a work in progress with a great deal of potential. He understands that it’s going to take the majority of the year for his team to come together, but the coaching staff believes that they can make some waves in the latter stages of the season. And speaking of character, the next few weeks will be a tremendous test for this team as they face some national powerhouses – New Hampshire and UMass-Lowell this week and then a series against North Dakota the next.
“When you look at our record people might underestimate what we’ve been able to accomplish so far at 3-7,” said Marsh. “We’re not too concerned about that right now. We want the guys to be honest to the process and realize how hard we need to work.”
Back At Home
The Cornell Big Red come back home after three straight weekends on the road and are now the No. 9 team in the country, and trail Harvard by one point in the ECAC standings with one game in hand.
This past weekend, three points were taken as the Big Red tied Yale and then downed Princeton.
In the process of moving up in the rankings and standings, the Big Red find themselves with a luxury — two outstanding goaltenders.
“Dave [LeNeveu] is very solid. He makes a lot of saves look easy,” head coach Mike Schafer told the Cornell Daily Sun. “Both he and Matt [Underhill] are playing fantastic.
“I bet there’s a lot of college coaches that wish they had the problem we have right now — two guys that are playing very well. They both deserve to play right now.
Both LeNeveu and Underhill will probably get a call this weekend as the Big Red host Niagara and then the US Under-18 Team.
Andrew Trivero, a student manager for the Vermont Catamounts, made the United States National Amputee Hockey Team recently, and is traveling to Colorado Springs to play in three scrimmage games with the US Team against Canada in front of members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The hope is that the two teams will impress the IOC members enough to make Amputee Hockey a Demonstration Sport at the next Winter Olympic Games. Trivero’s left leg was amputated below the knee after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 15. Congratulations to Andrew and we’re all proud of him.
Harvard head coach Mark Mazzoleni’s father, Palmiro “Paul” Mazzoleni, is one of the top ten finalists for the Green Bay Packer FAN Hall of Fame. Voting continues until December 12, with the winner being announced on December 14. The winner gets four club seats to a Packers home game, where he or she will be recognized on the Jumbotron at Lambeau Field, a gift certificate to the Pro Shop and paid road trips to two Packers games.
If It’s So Easy, You Try It
Chairman Brule is happy once again. His Iron Columnists have rid themselves of Ben Flickinger, who had defeated the Iron Columnists by one measly game the week before.
The competition thus far:
Vic Brzozowksi t. The Iron Columnists – 7-2-1
The Iron Columnists d. Vic Brzozowksi – 8-3-1 to 7-4-1
Ben Flickinger d. The Iron Columnists – 11-4-2 to 10-5-2
The Iron Columnists d. Ben Flickinger – 5-1-4 to 4-2-4
It’s the holiday season and even the Iron Columnists need a break, so until January, the Iron Columnists have been sent to hone their skills. See you in January.
And remember that if you are interested in putting your money where your mouth is, drop us an email to be eligible to be chosen.
Todd Milewski, Mike Volonnino and Ron Vaccaro contributed to this column this week.