This Week in ECAC Hockey: Back home, Harvard stringing together wins, confidence

 (Melissa Wade)
Senior co-captain Merrick Madsen was back in net for Harvard’s wins last weekend over RPI and Union (photo: Melissa Wade).

Air Force coach Frank Serratore was his usual colorful self when discussing the officiating in the Falcons’ 6-0 loss to Denver on Jan. 3.

“There are three things I’ve never seen in my life. I’ve never seen Bigfoot, I’ve never seen the Easter Bunny, and I’ve never seen a referee say he had a crap game,” Serratore said.

Harvard can relate, as many of its players might have started to feel as if they hadn’t seen the ice at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center this season.

The Crimson played at home last weekend for the first time since Nov. 4, a nine-game span that was the longest road trip in program history. Harvard traveled to five different states and went 3-5-1 during that stretch.

“It felt like it was the beginning of the season again, it’s been so long,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “Our guys were excited to get back.”

That showed on the ice last weekend, as the Crimson shutout Rensselaer Friday and then beat Union in overtime on Saturday to extend its winning streak to three games. Overall, Harvard is on a 5-1-2 streak, including a 2-2 tie at RPI Tuesday.

“It’s tough when you’re on the road in the beginning of the season that much, especially with a young team,” Donato said. “But I feel like we’re starting to figure out how we need to play and obviously playing at home is helpful to that.”

Freshman Henry Bowlby’s overtime game-winning goal against the Dutchmen on Saturday was named the top play of the week in NCAA hockey.

Bowlby’s goal came with five seconds left in overtime and gave Harvard its first overtime win of the season.

“We’d lost a couple of [close] games early on in the season, one at Cornell, and one in overtime versus Minnesota,” Donato said on Saturday. “I think this was a nice win for us and hopefully something we can build on.”

Senior Merrick Madsen started both games over the weekend after sitting in favor of Michael Lackey for the last two games of the first half and the first game of the second half against UMass Lowell. Lackey started Tuesday’s game at RPI, although he was relieved by Madsen following the second period.

“I think he had some ups and downs a little bit in the first portion of the season,” Donato said of his senior goalie. He played well at Vermont [on Dec. 30] and had another real strong effort [against RPI Friday].”

Including Tuesday’s game, Madsen has posted a .955 save percentage over his last four games. The Crimson are 3-0-1 during that stretch.

“I feel like it’s a testament to me trying to get back to my game,” Madsen said of Friday’s shutout. “I just feel really sharp right now and I’ve just got to stay in the groove.”

Both of the Crimson’s wins last weekend came without sophomore defenseman Adam Fox, who won a bronze medal as a member of Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo.

Fox returned to the lineup on Tuesday against RPI and assisted on the game-tying goal in the second period.

Harvard will be without another key player in the coming weeks, as junior Ryan Donato will represent the United States in the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. He’s following in the footsteps of his father, Ted, his current head coach, who represented the US in the 1992 Olympics.

“Some of the great positive feeling and excitement you have as a parent is similar to the one I experience as a player,” Ted said. “I would say the same thing about moving in as a freshman at Harvard. I was kind of reenergized me and it brought back a lot of the great memories.”

The NHL announced last spring that it would not allow its players to participate in the Olympics, opening the door for players like Ryan Donato to make the team.

“I think we can have fun, but our goal is to come home with a gold medal,” Ryan said. Many of the guys, just, like myself, wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to play in the Olympics if it wasn’t for that decision. I think we’re going to try and make the most of that decision and roll with it and bring back a gold medal.”

Raiders return

Harvard wasn’t the only ECAC Hockey team to return home after a lengthy time away.

Colgate played at the Class of 1965 Arena last weekend for the first time since Nov. 18. The Raiders played four road games and then had nearly a month of before hosting Quinnipiac on Friday.

The extended break might not have been a bad thing, as sophomore goalie Colton Point only missed one game while playing with Team Canada in the World Junior Championship.

Point, who won a gold medal with Team Canada and recorded a shutout against Slovakia in his only appearance in the tournament, returned Saturday and promptly blanked Princeton to give Colgate coach Don Vaughan his 399th career victory.

“Colton’s pretty special, he really is,” Vaughan said. “Obviously, he’s a great goaltender, but it’s way more than that. He’s just a great young man. It was so fun in the locker room when he came in today. He got there right before our meeting, so the timing was great. The guys were really excited for him and he was showing off a lot of the stuff he got.”

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Raiders. Colgate is 9-4-4 when Points starts in net and 0-3 when he doesn’t.

“It feels awesome to be back; I love being at Colgate,” Point said. “It’s been almost a month that I’ve been gone, so it’s nice to get back and settle into the routine of school and hockey.”

Around the League

• The third period has been a good one for Brown this season, but that wasn’t the case Monday night against Maine. The Bears took a 4-3 lead on Anea Ferrario’s goal midway through the third, but the Black Bears tied the game just over two minutes later. Even so, Brown is outscoring its opponents 17-14 in the third period of games this season. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it looks better compared to the Bears’ first two periods, where they are getting outscored by a combined 16 goals.

• Union’s Ryan Scarfo (player), Colgate’s Nick Austin (rookie), and Madsen (goalie) were named the league’s weekly award winners on Tuesday. Scarfo and Austin each had two goals and two assists last weekend.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here