Harvard: False Start
After Going 0-3, then Rallying, the Crimson Got Swept Last Weekend
by Ron Ayers/CHN Reporter
Despite a heartbreaking loss to Cornell two weekends ago, Harvard coach Ted Donato firmly believed the Crimson start was not indicative of the team on the ice, and that his team turned the corner with a mix of young talent and experienced seniors leading the way.
"It wasn't a matter of what we weren't getting, it was a matter of what we were giving up," said Donato who feels his team has made significant improvements defensively over the past two weeks.
Unfortunately, that proved short-lived, as Harvard was swept this past weekend by upstarts Brown and Yale.
On the past road trip to central New York, Harvard held both Colgate and Cornell to under 20 shots with the special teams killing 15 of 15 power plays on the weekend.
Much of that starts with Crimson Captain Dylan Reese.
"I think over our last three games Dylan has really stepped his level of play up. He's a tremendous player," said Donato of Reese, who had two goals on the road trip. "For us he's a catalyst in almost all phases of the game."
Unfortunately, it went back the other way this past weekend, with the Crimson allowing four goals on 12 penalty killing opportunity.
This frustration has dropped Harvard to 2-6, and is emblematic of the frustration from the past five years. Five years in a row, the Crimson have gone to the NCAA tournament, and five years in a row have lost in the first round. Last year was their best shot, it seemed, coming off an ECAC tournament in which it scored 16 goals in the final two games to win the title. But then Harvard got smoked by Maine in the NCAAs.
Reese along with familiar faces of Kevin Du, Ryan Maki and Justin Tobe, provide the senior leadership to a talented group of freshman and sophomores. Du who led the Crimson in scoring last season is already tied for the team lead in points with Maki early on. These are the players that need to get going if Harvard is to turn it back around.
"The four freshmen — Chad Morin, Dougie Rogers, Alex Biega and Kyle Richter — have come out of the gate and been key contributors so far," Donato said.
Biega and Richter have received the most attention so far. Biega, a fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in this year's draft, scored his first collegiate goal three weeks ago against the Eagles. Richter was named ECAC Rookie of the week after he earned his first career win and shutout in the victory over Boston College.
Rogers, a native of nearby Watertown, and an Islanders prospect, has been quietly piling up the points this season with a goal and four assists in his Freshman season.
"They have the talent right now to continue to improve, to be big factors for us right away," Donato said.
With players like Jon Pelle and Brian McCafferty contributing on the score sheet, and junior Paul Defult returning from injury, Donato feels that despite being in an early hole, their destiny is still in their hands.
"We've just got to win one game at a time. Besides St. Lawrence, no one has gotten off to a tremendous start," he said. "We're right there, and we obviously have another shot at everyone."
In fact, perhaps a big opportunity to kick start itself will fall this Tuesday when the Crimson face in-town foe Boston University. But the BC win was supposed to kickstart the Crimson, and they sputtered instead.