For all its success the last few years, there was one thing the Harvard men’s hockey team hadn’t accomplished: A North Country sweep.
The Crimson beat St. Lawrence and Clarkson last weekend for the program’s first sweep in the North Country since Nov. 2002, when current Harvard coach Ted Donato was still playing in the NHL.
Harvard (8-2-1) scored eleven goals on the weekend and is averaging nearly four-and-half goals per game, good for third in Division 1. That’s more than a full goal above last year’s team’s mark, and that group included Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey.
The Crimson have been especially dangerous on the power play, converting on just over 30 percent of their chances, which is first in the nation.
Freshman defenseman Adam Fox is a large part of that success not only on the power play, but at even strength as well. Fox has given Harvard a puck mover on defense that it lacked last season. The Calgary draft pick has 15 assists in 11 games this season.
The Crimson will carry a three-game winning streak into the holiday break. The Crimson start the second half at home Dec. 30 against Rensselaer.
Union gets four points, but….
It’s not often that college hockey teams get a three-week break in the middle of November, but that’s the situation Union found itself in this season. The Dutchmen lost to Clarkson 3-1 on Nov. 12 and then didn’t play again until Friday night at Princeton.
Union trailed the Tigers 2-1 after one period but then scored five second-period goals en route to a 7-3 win. On Saturday Union trailed Quinnipiac 1-0, but scored three second-period goals and beat the Bobcats 5-2 despite getting outshot 54-17.
“I told [Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold] you deserved a better fate tonight,” Union coach Rick Bennett said on Saturday. “We looked like the team that went to Ireland [last weekend].”
Still, the Dutchmen can’t be upset about a four-point weekend on the road, even if Bennett and his coaching staff will have plenty of material to look over on film following Saturday’s game.
“After a big win at Princeton, we’ve got to put that behind us quick and we just didn’t do that [Saturday],” Bennett said.
Senior Alex Sakellaropoulos finished with a career-high 52 saves. It was the first time a Union goalie finished with 50 or more saves since Keith Kinkaid accomplished the feat on March 12, 2010. That game also came against Quinnipiac.
“Just getting right into and seeing the shots I saw really helped us out,” said Sakellaropoulos, who had several big saves in the early going to keep the Dutchmen in the game.
Cornell in a familiar spot
Entering this weekend, the Big Red had only played two of its nine games at home. But Cornell made its second home series of the season count, sweeping non-conference opponent Miami.
Those wins pushed the Big Red’s record to 7-3-1. Cornell was 8-1-2 at the same point last season, but only won eight games the rest of the way.
The impressive start has come despite a number of injuries. Senior forward Jeff Kubiak, last year’s leading scorer, has only played in one so far. Same for Dwyer Tschantz, who was expected to play a top-six role this season.
However, the injuries haven’t slowed down the offense; Cornell is averaging three goals per game, a healthy increase from last season’s mark. The Big Red are off until Dec. 28, when it faces Northern Michigan in the Florida College Classic.