Minnesota St. Outlasts Harvard in Albany Regional Opener

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 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.

Minnesota St. Mavericks goalie Dryden McKay watches as Harvard Crimson forward Sean Farrell’s shot glances off his skate in the second period of Thursday’s NCAA Albany Regional game at MVP Arena in Albany, NY, on March 24, 2022.

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.”

2022 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Albany Regional Preview

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.

Harvard Crimson goalie Mitchell Gibson stopped 28 of 29 RPI shots in the Crimson’s 3-1 win over the Engineers on Sunday, March 13, 2022, at Bright-Landry Hockey Center in Allston, MA.

“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.

Minnesota St. Mavericks forward Julian Napravnik carries the puck up the Mullins Center ice during the 2-0 win over the Massachusetts Minutemen on October 2, 2021.

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.

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.

 

Crimson Hold Off RPI 3-1

Harvard Wins Game Three to Advance to ECAC Semifinals. Sixth Straight Trip to Lake Placid for Crimson.   Allston, MA – It took three games and almost a fourth’s worth of overtime, but the Harvard Crimson knocked off the RPI Engineers in the second round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. On Sunday,… Continue reading Crimson Hold Off RPI 3-1

Harvard Tips RPI in OT

Crimson Score 3 Times in Final Four Minutes to Force OT   Allston, MA – The Harvard Crimson offense figured out Jack Watson (42 saves) and the RPI Engineers in the final minutes of regulation to pull off the come from behind 4-3 overtime victory in front of 778 fans at Bright-Landry Center on Friday night. Game One of the ECAC Quarterfinal was going according to… Continue reading Harvard Tips RPI in OT

UNH Nips Harvard 1-0

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

Crimson Down Brown 5-2

Allston, MA – The Brown University Bears and Harvard University Crimson squared off in their 180th meeting on Tuesday night at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center on the banks of the Charles River. The Crimson kept true to form in winning the game 5-2 to improve their overall mark against their Ivy League school to 118-47-14. More importantly, the Crimson added two points… Continue reading Crimson Down Brown 5-2

Huskies Edge Crimson 2-1 in OT

Boston, Ma. – Sophomore forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine took advantage of teammate Jordan Harris’ crossing up the Harvard University Crimson defense at the blue line to skate in alone on Crimson goalie Mitchell Gibson and net the game-winning goal just twenty-five seconds into overtime in front of 4,018 Northeastern Huskies fans at Matthews Arena on Monday night. “I saw that I had time and Jordo (Jordan Harris)… Continue reading Huskies Edge Crimson 2-1 in OT

Crimson Comeback for 3-2 Win

Allston, MA –  It is a rivalry dating back to 1910 with 157 previous meetings and it lived up to the hype on Friday night as the Harvard University Crimson hosted the Cornell University Big Red in front of 3,095 at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. Harvard, on the strength of two Sean Farrell goals, eeked out a 3-2 victory after falling behind 2-0 early… Continue reading Crimson Comeback for 3-2 Win

Harvard Routs Bentley in Home Opener

Allston, MA. – The Harvard Crimson kicked off the road portion of 2021-22 on Friday night by defeating Dartmouth 9-3 in Hanover, NH. They picked up right where they left off on Saturday in their home opener downing the Bentley Falcons 7-3. Two players, John Farinacci and Sean Farrell tallied two goals each while Henry Thrun and Nick Abruzzese had five and four assists respectively. There’s no place… Continue reading Harvard Routs Bentley in Home Opener

BC Throttles Harvard in Beanpot Consolation

Boston, MA — The Boston College Eagles soared to a lopsided 7-2 victory over the Harvard Crimson in the consolation game of the 68th Annual Beanpot tournament. Four second period goals by the Eagles was enough to put the game out of reach. Sophomore Jack McBain had two goals, freshman Matt Boldy had three points, while classmate Spencer Knight made 26 saves to pace the Eagles to their… Continue reading BC Throttles Harvard in Beanpot Consolation