Usual Suspects Once Again Favored According to the preseason Coaches Poll, the defending regular season ECAC champs Quinnipiac Bobcats are still the team to beat after garnering eight first-place votes. Meanwhile, the media favor last year’s postseason champion Harvard Crimson to win it all. Whoever you believe, the ECAC will still come down to the usual suspects, Quinnipiac, Harvard, Clarkson Golden… Continue reading 2022-23 ECAC Preview
Fourth Line Keys Win in Opening Game
Albany, NY – The Minnesota St. Mavericks weathered a Harvard Crimson comeback late in the game to advance to Sunday’s Regional Final at MVP Arena against the winner of Notre Dame vs. North Dakota. Harvard spotted the favored Mavericks a two-goal lead in the first period only to fall a goal short, 4-3.
Ondrej Pavel‘s early third-period goal was the difference maker as sophomore defenseman Akito Hirose assisted on three goals, and sophomore Josh Groll had two assists, one for each linemate Pavel and Connor Gregga. Richter Award top three finalist Dryden McKay turned back 19 of 22 Crimson shots to earn his NCAA leading 36th win.
“If there’s a guarantee that you could get at this tournament. It’s that it’s never easy,” said Minnesota St. head coach Mike Hastings. “Tonight wasn’t easy. I thought we had a real good start. Then we got a little loose but I want to give Harvard credit on making it happen. Creating turnovers and then finding a way to to make a play to get it back to a three-two game.”
“I thought we did a good job of resetting coming out in the third period,” added Hastings. “Ondrej Pavel makes a real nice, hard play and ends up getting in and makes no mistake about it and gives us a two-goal lead.”
“It was a little bit of bend don’t break. At this time, it’s nice to be moving on. But as we knew it would be it’d be an incredible battle against Harvard and it was,” said the 10-year bench boss.
The Mavericks broke through on Mitchell Gibson at 14:12 of the first period. A scramble in front of the Crimson goal led to a slapshot from the blue line from defenseman Hirose that winger Gregga tipped by Gibson (36 saves). Hirose and Josh Groll assisted Gregga’s sixth goal.
The Crimson compounded their misfortune with a Too Many Men on the Ice penalty at 16:56. It took less than a minute to double up their lead in the nation’s third-ranked power-play.
Reggie Lutz blasted a one-timer from the right circle past Gibson at 17:46 to make it 2-0. Hirose had the helper on Lutz’s power-play strike.
Junior Brendan Furry‘s wrist shot from the slot put the Mavericks ahead 3-0 just 2:06 into the second period. Furry’s 12th was unassisted.
A scramble in the Harvard crease led to a penalty shot awarded to Minnesota St.’s Julian Napravnik at 10:02. Gibson quickly padded away Napravnik’s snap snot with a blocker save.
“I think it certainly did,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato on whether Gibson’s save on Napravnik gave the Crimson momentum. “He was really on his game from the from the very beginning and gave us a chance even though we were giving up some real quality chances. He gave us a chance to stay around so that when we did get a couple goals, we were able to turn it into a little bit more of a game in the second half I think that is mainly because of his great effort.”
— Harvard Men's Hockey (@HarvardMHockey) March 24, 2022
Harvard came alive late in the second when Sean Farrell beat McKay when he just flung the puck on goal from below the goal line. The puck bounced off McKay, who jumped up in the air, and into the Mavericks’ net at 16:42. Farrell’s 10th put the score at 3-1 Minnesota St.
Just forty-eight seconds later, Alex Gaffney cut the deficit to 3-2 when he beat McKay with a shot through the legs from the low slot. Alex Laferriere assisted on Gaffney’s seventh.
Immediately off the face-off from Gaffney’s goal, the Maverick’s struck iron when Groll beat Gibson with a slap shot.
Pavel put the Mavericks back on top by two goals at 5:59 of the third when he ripped a shot from the left circle top corner past Gibson to make it 4-2.
“I believe they were they were unbelievable tonight,” said Pavel of his linemates Groll and Gregga. “I ended up getting that goal but it was all because we got a good play from our defenseman, Josh Groll then chips it by their by their defenseman. Then we’re just going down hill and I owe a lot to them for for the success that our fourth line is having.”
A Tripping penalty on Mavericks’ Smith gave the Crimson a power-play at 14:38.
With Gibson on the bench for the extra attacker, senior captain Casey Dornbach cut the deficit when firing a cross-ice pass from Farrell past McKay for his eighth goal.
Harvard pulled Gibson again but could not beat McKay to force overtime as time wound down on their season.
“We’ve been in that situation a few times this year, and been able to come back completely,” said Dornbach. “So we definitely had confidence there. It just shows the resilience of this group that we’ve had all year. It’s been the best team I’ve been a part of since being at Harvard. And I think we all wanted to do it for each other and obviously fell short tonight.”
Reading, Ma – The 2021-22 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament kicks off on Thursday, March 24, in Albany, NY, at the MVP Arena. The first game features Minnesota St. Mavericks, overall number two seed, taking on the 15th seeded Harvard Crimson at noon EST. The nightcap features the seventh-seeded North Dakota Fighting Hawks against the ninth seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 6:00 pm EST. Harvard and Minnesota St. have never faced each other in NCAA competition. There hasn’t been a fight between the two UND’s since 2012-13, when the two split a pair in South Bend, Indiana.
The winner of this bracket will face-off against the winner of the Worcester Regional at TD Garden in Boston, Ma. on Thursday, April 7, in the Frozen Four.
(1) Minnesota St. Mavericks (35-5-0) vs. (4) Harvard Crimson (21-10-3)
The Minnesota St. Mavericks hovered around the top of the NCAA rankings all season. The Harvard Crimson was early season high-flyers before the losses piled up. Something that Mike Hastings‘ Mavericks squad hasn’t had to deal with too often this season. Minnesota St. comes into the NCAA Tournament’s opening game riding high on a 15-game win streak. The longest in the tourney.
The last time the Mavericks lost, January 14, 2022, 4-2 at Northern Michigan, the Crimson lost 3-0 at Quinnipiac, was sitting at 8-4-1 and staring down a month without two of their top scorers. Junior Nick Abruzzese and freshman Sean Farrell would soon be departing for the Beijing Olympics on Team USA. Harvard weathered their absence and stayed in contention in ECAC play. Since the duo returned, Harvard has lost twice and seems to have found their rhythm at the right time. On Saturday, 3-2 in overtime against Quinnipiac, Harvard won the ECAC tournament to earn their berth in the NCAA’s. Minnesota St. won the CCHA in a bizarre overtime finish against Bemidji St. 2-1. The Mavericks scored, celebrated, received the trophy only to overturn the goal forty minutes later.
Harvard beat the Bobcats twice since the Olympics ended. Those two wins put the Crimson at 2-2 against the NCAA field of 16, losing to QU and Northeastern early in their season. The Mavericks, meanwhile, have dispatched Massachusetts, Minnesota Duluth, and St. Cloud St. during non-conference games while sweeping Michigan Tech 4-0 (2 OT W’s) and lost to number one overall seed Michigan, 3-2, way back in October. Minnesota St. is an impressive 9-2 versus the field. The knock on the Mavericks was that they beat up the former WCHA’s weaker teams, now rebranded as the CCHA. Minnesota St. put that talk to rest last year in the NCAA tourney and continued t quash that notion in the early season non-con schedule.
Mavericks have senior Dryden McKay between the pipes, and once again, he’s been infallible. The 2022 CCHA Player of the Year holds the NCAA record for career shutouts (35) and has a 35-4-0 won-lost record. The Downers Grove, Illinois product has nine shutouts this season and is second in GAA at 1.27 and fourth in SV% on .934. McKay is on the short-list for the Mike Richter Award for the best goalie and the Hobey Baker Award.
Harvard will counter with junior Mitchell Gibson in goal. The 6′-1″ Phoenixville, PA., native is 18-9-1 on the season with one shutout, a 1-0 masterclass performance vs. Quinnipiac. Mitchell has a 2.11 GAA and .919 SV%, 13th and 22nd overall.
“I think it motivated him this weekend,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato of Gibson’s play against Hobey Baker Award finalist goaltenders. “His performance on Sunday (2 goals on 49 shots in Harvard’s 3-2 OT win), against (Yaniv) Perets and Quinnipiac, who’s had an incredible season, along with their team, I give Mitch a lot of credit. He was certainly the best goaltender in that game. I think at this time of year you need special efforts and special performances. Whether that’s goal scoring from a forward, or a defenseman where he manages the whole rink, or a goalie that gives his team confidence that they can withstand a little bit of a push by the other team or kill a big penalty.”
“Our team has certainly strengthened its backbone oer the last few weeks,” added Donato. “It certainly starts with Mitch Gibson and his play down the stretch.”
“Mitch is an amazing goalie, who is only getting better, and he’s heating up,” said senior captain Casey Dornbach. “He had some huge games for us. We’re going to need him back there. We have full trust in him to do that.”
The two teams have ample firepower should it be an off-night for the goaltenders. What Minnesota st has in experience Harvard has in pedigree. The Mavericks account for four of the nation’s top twenty point-getters; junior Nathan Smith (18-31-49) and senior Julian Napravnik (18-31-49) are tied in second. Smith is a top ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Junior Brendan Furry has an 11-30-41 statline good for 16th and classmate Cade Borchardt rounds out the top twenty on 15-1-25-40 points. Fellow junior Ryan Sandelin is tied for fourth in the country on 21 goals for the season. Mankato also leads the NCAA in goals as a team with 167.
Matthew Coronato leads Harvard (18-17-35) in points and goals. Abruzzese is next (9-23-32), followed by defenseman Henry Thrun (7-25-32) and sophomore Alex Laferriere (14-15-29). Thrun, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, leads the Crimson with his 25 assists which are fourth-best for defensemen nationally.
Thrun is one of 11 NHL picks on the Harvard squad. Farrell is a draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, Coronato by the Calgary Flames, Abruzzese for Toronto, Laferriere by Los Angeles, and Gibson for Washington. Other players include junior John Farinacci – Arizona, Austin Wong – Winnipeg, upfront and Kyle Aucoin – Detroit, Jack Bar – Toronto, and Ian Moore – Anaheim on defense.
“They’re an older team, they have a lot of offense too,” said Dornbach. “So we’re going to have to be firing on all cylinders. They have some good players, we do too. I think it’s going to be a good matchup.”
(2) North Dakota Fighting Hawks (24-13-1) vs. (3) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (27-11-0)
The North Dakota Fighting Hawks head into Albany, having lost their previous game, a 4-2 loss against Western Michigan in the NCHC semifinals. It’s a safe bet that Brad Berry‘s bunch will be motivated for Thursday’s tilt against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Jeff Jackson‘s team also comes in on a loss, a 2-1 loss in the BIG Ten playoffs to Michigan.
The two schools are almost statistically even on the ice. Notre Dame has scored 126 goals on the season to North Dakota’s 118. The Irish average 3.32 goals a game while the Hawks are averaging 3.11. Notre Dame is averaging slightly fewer goals against than NoDak, 2.11 to 2.61. The Irish are also slightly older, slightly taller, and slightly heavier. Notre Dame has nine NHL picks to the Hawks seven. The teams are tied 17-17-3 in head-to-head action dating back to 1970-71.
North Dakota is 11-7-1 against the field. 7-2-1 at Ralph Englestad Arena, 4-4 on the road, and 0-1 at neutral sites. 9-5-1 vs. conference qualifiers and 2-2 against non-con. The Irish are 6-4 against the field. 1-0 against non-con opponents and 5-4 against Michigan and Minnesota. 3-1 at the Compton Family Ice Arena and 3-2 away from it. They are 0-1 in neutral sight games.
The Hawks will be without star defenseman and Hobey nominee Jake Sanderson, but they have missed him all season. Sanderson has missed 14 of 40 for the Grand Forks, ND school. They still have Ethan Frisch, Chris Jandric, Tyler Kleven, and Cooper Moore to work with. On offense, NoDak has gotten a phenomenal season from freshman Riese Gaber, who leads the team in goals and points (15-22-37). Seniors Connor Ford and Ashton Calder, 28 and 21 points each, Jake Schmaltz and Matteo Costantini, 24 and 21, a pair of first-year students, round out the 20 point club.
— North Dakota MHockey (@UNDmhockey) March 19, 2022
In goal, senior Zach Driscoll carries a 22-10-1 record, a .907 GAA, and a 2.36 GAA. Driscoll was here last year as the starter for Bemidji State and helped take the Beavers to the Regional final, where they lost to eventual National Champions Massachusetts, so he knows what to expect. His counterpart in goal for Notre Dame has also been around the block. Matthew Galajda has been here three times with the Cornell Big Red. The 6′-0″ transfer student missed last season because the Ivy League schools did not participate in sports. In his one season with the Irish, he has posted 17 wins with seven losses. He carries a 1.98 GAA and a .930 SV%. Galajda, an Aurora, Ontario native, split the early season duties with junior Ryan Bischel. Bishel went 10-4 with a 2.08 GAA and .924 GAA in 16 games before Galajda took over as the full-time starter in mid-February. The Irish have gone 7-2 since moving to Galajda.
Junior forward Max Ellis (16-12-28) and sophomore Ryder Rolston (10-17-27), senior defensemen Spencer Stastny (7-20-27), and Nick Leivermann (6-20-26) power the Notre Dame offense. The Irish have multiple players from their senior class that experienced the NCAA’s back in 2018-19, including Lievermann and Stastney, Graham Slaggert and Jake Pivonka.
.@GrahamSlaggert and power plays are great combo 🤝
— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) March 5, 2022
Reading, MA. – The last four ECAC Hockey teams are off to Lake Placid, NY, to vie for the Whitelaw Cup as ECAC tournament champions. All four schools are deserving of their spot; none upset any team to get there. It’s the top three seeded teams and the fifth seed. All are tremendously talented, and anyone can pull off the ultimate victory on the historic Lake Placid ice. The semifinals and final will be on the NHL size ice sheet for the first time.
Quinnipiac is here as the number one team in the conference. The Bobcats won the regular season Cleary Cup as having the conference-best record. They dispatched the St. Lawrence Saints in two games, 4-1 and 4-3 in double overtime.
Clarkson placed second overall and edged the Union Dutchmen in back-to-back overtime wins 3-2 and 4-3. The three and four seeds each needed a third game on Sunday afternoon to punch their tickets.
The Crimson outlasted RPI in three after coming back from a three-goal third-period deficit in the final four minutes in game one for an OT win. The Engineers repaid the come-from-behind favor in OT on Saturday before running out of gas in a 3-1 Crimson win.
The Raiders outlasted Cornell 2-1 in game three at Lynah Rink Sunday. Colgate dropped game one 3-1 before winning the next two to make their first trip to Lake Placid in seven years.
Only Quinnipiac guarantees to qualify for the NCAA tournament of the four remaining schools. Clarkson is in the 16th and final spot bubble, while both Harvard and Colgate need to win the tournament to be eligible with the ECAC Tournament Championship’s automatic bid.
Harvard University Crimson 19-10-3 (14-6-2-0-0-2 ECAC) vs. Clarkson University Golden Knights 21-9-6 (14-4-4-0-2-3 ECAC)
Friday will be the third straight matchup between the two schools in the ECAC semis. Clarkson has won them both.
Clarkson Head Coach Casey Jones said sophomore Ethan Haider would get the start in goal on Friday against the Crimson. In the previous meeting between the two, a 6-2 Knights win in Potsdam, NY, on November 12, 2021, Haider stopped 37 of 39 Crimson shots.
THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS WIN IT IN OT!
— ECAC Hockey (@ecachockey) March 12, 2022
“I’m excited for them this weekend,” said Jones of his seniors, of which he has six, to go along with four graduate students. “I think there’s a lot to be said about having a senior pull and having some older guys. The end of the line is pretty close, a lot closer than some other guys, and having that pull, means a lot.”
Jack Jacome has been at Clarkson for the last five seasons. He leads a group that has been to ECAC Finals and NCAA tournaments. Chris Klack, Anthony Callin, Nick Campoli, Brian Hurley, Michael Underwood, and Zach Tsekos have been in the trenches for Clarkson the past few years and have
“I’m anxious for this group to get there and get after it a little bit because they’ve missed the last couple of years when I thought we had good teams that were pushings towards that (championships).”
Clarkson added defenseman Lucas Kaelble from the Lake Superior State Lakers program, which won the WCHA title and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in almost 20 years. The 6′-2″ graduate student has 162 games under his belt and ,,, for Jones and Clarkson.
“Certainly, we thought he was going to add some offensive punch back there for us, we were aware of that,” Jones said. “We weren’t sure if he could shoot it, but he’s been an important piece for us. He’s been good in big games and big moments. He’s got some experience in that regard too.”
“We had our fingers crossed,” added Jones. “We thought there’d be a good offensive punch to bring in for us and he’s obvioulsy done that.”
“Basically, you have the senior class,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato. “The junior class didn’t have a chance because of COVID. Then we have a freshman class and a sophomore class that wasn’t on campus. We have 15 guys on our roster that hadn’t played college hockey (before this season) nevermind playoff hockey.”
What the Crimson lack in experience they make up for in offensive talent. The Crimson also has ECAC Rookie of the Year Alex Laferriere. The Los Angeles Kings prospect has 14 goals and 15 assists in 32 games for the Crimson.
The Crimson have seven seniors on their roster. Co-captain Casey Dornbach, Baker Shore, R.J. Murphy, and Jack Donato have been through the battles and were on the 2018-19 team that made it to the same NCAA Regionals as Clarkson. Marshall Rifai was also a team member but didn’t play as much as the others. He has stepped up his game throughout the season and is a solid defender. His stat line (5G-7A 12P) is good, too, considering the offensive talent up front.
Harvard has offense in spades with Matthew Coronato, Nick Abruzzese, Sean Farrell, and John Farinacci. Then there are defensemen Henry Thrun, Ryan Siedem, and Ian Moore, who combined for 51 assists. Harvard is quick, and they move the puck just as fast. Coronato has 15 goals, while Laferriere has 14. Farrell and Farinacci score in bunches.
As it is most years, the wildcard for the Crimson will be in goal. Mitchell Gibson has been steady all year. 16-9-1 2.09 GAA and a .918 SV%. He’ll need to be sharp against Clarkson.
“Mitch is an important part of our success,” said Donato. “I think anytime you look to win a league title, you will need excellent goaltending and some important and timely saves. We have a lot of faith in Mitch, and we’ll need him to be at his best this weekend.”
Prediction: Each team’s most significant question mark is in goal. Like many of my predictions, it is a heart vs. head matchup. My head says Clarkson, my heart says, Harvard. I have to go with my gut on this one because I don’t want the Crimson season to end. So I’m going with Harvard in a nailbiter, 3-2.
Colgate University Raiders 18-17-4 (9-9-4-1-0-3 ECAC) vs. Quinnipiac University Bobcats 30-5-3 (17-4-1-0-1-1 ECAC)
This season, Colgate hasn’t had much success against Quinnipiac, losing both games by a combined 9-1 score. The first game was a 5-1 Bobcats win at Colgate, and the second was a slightly better 4-0 loss at Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are a possession team and have a solid structure on defense. Should that structure break down or fail, there is Yaniv Perets, the ECAC Goalie of the Year and ECAC Player of the Year. Perets has insane numbers this year. The freshman from Dollard-des-Ormeaux is 20-4-2 with a .89 GAA and .952 SV% with 11 shutouts. Perets has allowed only 24 goals all season.
“They posses so well,” said Don Vaughan, Colgate Head Coach. “Then when you do have opportunities you have to beat, probably, the best goalie in the country.”
— ECAC Hockey (@ecachockey) March 13, 2022
“We have so much respect for Quinnipiac, and we know it’s going to be a battle. They’re just so deep,” added Vaughan. “We’re prepared to defend; that’s how we got by Cornell. We went into the weekend, knowing that we’re going to spend time in our zone more than theirs.”
Making the challenge even harder for Colgate is the injury to Colton Young. The Raiders junior lead the team in scoring with a 15-17-32 line. In the Cornell series, the Raiders lost Colton to an injury. Colgate still has his younger brother Alex and his 10-21-31 stat line, good for second on the team.
“On Sunday night we put Matt Verboon there,” said Vaughan of who he expects to step up in Colton Young’s absence. “Matt went in a scored a huge goal. Matt’s come to life heer in the last couple of weeks. He’s also another guy with a great shot, a big important part of our power-play.”
Quinnipiac won the first of their games against SLU 4-1 before falling into a 2-0 hole in game two on Saturday. They clawed back to earn the 4-3 double OT win to punch their ticket to upstate New York for the first time since 2017.
“I just loved our poise on the bench,” said Head Coach Rand Pecknold of the game two deficit. “We had no panic; we just believe we were going to come back. We’ve had a couple of games like that.”
Despite QU’s success in the last few years, they don’t have a lot of hardware to show for it. The regular season Cleary Cup is excellent, but the Bobcats want more. They last won the Whitelaw Cup in 2016, their lone postseason hardware.
The Bobcats brought in Oliver Chau as a graduate transfer student from the defending National Champions, Massachusetts, to solve that problem. The 5′-9″ forward from Oakville, Ontario, led the Bobcats’ offense with 13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points.
“I think Oliver Chau has been one of the best two or three forwards in our league,” said Pecknold. “I’m just beyond excited and thrilled with his production this year. He’s one of the best 200-foot players I’ve ever had.”
“He has the puck all the time, defends, competes, plays offense. His points are up there. He’s one of our top scorers,” added Pecknold. “Chau’s been outstanding. He’s a great teammate, a great leader. He’s a big reason why we’re as good as we are this year.”
“He knows how to win. He’s great in big games,” Pecknold said before adding, “Like the North Dakota weekend (5-2 win and a 3-1 loss at QU in October), those two games he was the best player on the ice for either team. Anytime we played a big game this year he’s been outstanding.”
Prediction: I want to say that Colgate wins in an upset, but I think that Quinnipiac is too good defensively for an offensively challenged Raiders squad. The Bobcats win, big too.
Allston, MA – Senior Jackson Pierson‘s breakaway goal at 9:37 of the third period was the difference in a tightly contested non-conference game on Friday night at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. The University of New Hampshire Wildcats held on to a 1-0 win over host Harvard University Crimson in the two teams’ first meeting since 2013. Michael Robinson turned back… Continue reading UNH Nips Harvard 1-0
Boston, MA – A late second period goal from graduate transfer student Brendan van Riemsdyk coupled with 27 saves from graduate transfer student Craig Pantano was enough to power the Northeastern Huskies to their third straight Beanpot Final next Monday at TD Garden. The Harvard Crimson threw everything they had at the Huskies in the third period but it wasn’t enough to keep them out of next… Continue reading Northeastern Graduates to Third Straight Beanpot Final
Boston, MA – Just 1.9 miles separates Boston University‘s Agganis Arena and Harvard University‘s Bright-Landry Arena on the Boston bank of the Charles River. That’s the closet distance between two NCAA Division 1 opponents. The two schools are one of the oldest rivalries in college hockey as well, dating back to 1922-23. Coming into Tuesday night’s 158th meeting the Terriers held the 80-70-7… Continue reading Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot… BU downs Harvard 5-2
Allston, MA – The Dartmouth Big Green‘s 2019-20 season kicks off where last season ended, at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Center. Both squads have been idle while the rest of the NCAA hockey world has had about a month’s head start. Each team is expecting big things from their players this year. Dartmouth is looking to a talented first line… Continue reading Harvard tops Dartmouth 7-3 in Season Opener
The 2018-19 version of the Harvard Crimson competed for the ECAC regular-season title, the tournament title, and qualified for the NCAA tournament. The fact that the Crimson were able to hang around all season was in large part due to the play of defenseman Adam Fox, who was a top-three Finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Harvard had a young squad last year,… Continue reading Opportunity Knocks for Crimson in 2019-20
The puck drops on the 2019-20 NCAA season when Union College hosts Boston University at the Achilles Center in Schenectady, NY on Saturday, October 5. The ECAC begins to stir from their summer slumber as Union and Colgate represent the conference this first weekend of the season. The Dutchmen host Boston U. before traveling to… Continue reading 2019-20 ECAC Preview