Numbers to Know:
Record: 10-8-4 Overall (9-5-3 ECAC)
Goals For: 2.95 per game
Goals Against: 2.41 per game
Save Percentage: .918 (91.8 percent)
Power Play: 12-of-81 (14.8 percent)
Penalty Kill: 64-of-77 (83.1 percent)
After making the Frozen Four last year, Harvard men’s hockey came into the 2017-18 season with sky-high expectations that it has struggled to live up to. It has been a season of streaks for the Crimson. Following a disappointing 2-5 start, Harvard needed a midseason surge to save its season. Over the next month and a half, the Crimson did just that. Harvard went 7-1-3 in that span, and found success when Coach Ted Donato decided to implement a two-goalie system that focused on riding the hot hand. Last weekend, Harvard crashed back down to Earth by getting shut out in back-to-back contests for the first time in seven years. Nonetheless, the Crimson rocketed from the depths of the ECAC standings to fourth place and is playing inspired hockey as they head into the decisive month of February. They look to win consecutive Beanpots for the first time in school history.
Players to Watch:
1) Ryan Donato
The Bruins prospect and 2018 Olympian has been the bonafide star of Harvard’s squad. He currently leads the ECAC in goals with 20 and is second in points with 29. If Harvard defends its Beanpot title, it will most likely be because of the junior forward’s MVP-caliber play, because he has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Crimson. But, with the opening ceremonies of the Olympics slated for Feb. 9, Donato will have to sit out the championship game if Harvard wins against Boston University in the first round.
2) Lewis Zerter-Gossage
Donato’s linemate will have to step up in a big way if in fact Donato is in Pyeongchang, South Korea at any point during this tournament. Zerter-Gossage is second to Donato on the team in points, and has 12 assists, which is tied for the team lead. It will be crucial for their line to try to facilitate early points, because Harvard is 6-3 when scoring first this year.
3) The Goalie Battle
It will be interesting to see which goalie starts against BU. Merrick Madsen began the year as the starting goalie, but inconsistent play caused Coach Donato to turn to Michael Lackey at points throughout the season. There remains no consistency in goal, as both Madsen and Lackey posted a loss on consecutive nights last weekend. They have performed similarly, with Madsen and Lackey posting .920 and .907 save percentages, respectively. It is most likely going to be a gametime decision for Coach Donato on Monday night.
The Crimson are the defending Beanpot champions. Last year, it defeated Northeastern in a tight 4-3 first round battle, and doubled up Boston University 6-3 to win the title on the ensuing Monday. Nathan Krusko received Most Valuable Player honors.
All-Time Beanpot Record: 54-76
Beanpot Championships: 11
Harvard defends its Beanpot title, and finds its starting goalie along the way. This would give it momentum to finish the month of February strong and head into the ECAC playoffs confident. The Crimson will ultimately need to win these conference playoffs and receive the ECAC automatic bid to make the NCAA tournament. They are currently ranked 27th in the Pairwise rankings, not near the top-16 threshold that tournament teams are often placed.
Harvard loses in the first round, and Donato’s Olympic leave of absence presents too high of a mountain to climb. It stumbles into the ECAC playoffs, having not solved the existing goalie problem and falls to a conference rival before the tournament relocates to Lake Placid for the final four.