Onto what David McDonald called "one of the worst beatings we've taken since I've been here," the 7-2 BC win:
1.An obvious statement but specialty teams, particularly the BC PP, determined the game. BC was 4/10 on the PP, with 3 of those PP goals coming from Nathan Gerbe (who had 4 on the night). The Harvard PK which came into the game with the nation's 7th best penalty kill had no answer. Just about all of BC's PP goals were scored within the first 30 seconds of the PP. In the post-game conference, Donato said that the team took too many penalties, that team discipline was not where it needed to be, and that Harvard didn't have an answer for Gerbe and the BC PP.
2.We saw something that few would have anticipated going in: Kyle Richter, who entered the game with a 1.43 GAA (3rd in the nation) and a .952 sv pct (1st in the nation), getting yanked early in the 3rd after surrendering 6 goals. Richter doubtless did not have his best game, but he had no chance on 4 of the goals. In his post-game comments, Donato said that Richter was "left helpless" on a number of the goals.
3. A loss like this inevitably sparks the conventional discussion about the relative strength/weakness of the ECAC and HE. People will say that a loss like this reflects the growing disparity between the two eastern conferences in competition and talent. Collectively, I think most would concede that more talent resides in the HE. It's worth noting, though, that the highest-ranked eastern team comes out of the ECAC. Clarkson is #8, followed by 3 HE teams--UMass, New Hampshire, and Northeastern. Aside from being undefeated against the HE going into the BC game, Harvard has traditionally played well against HE teams--going 5-1-1 against BC/BU in the last few years in non-Beanpot games. Of course, many will also bring up Harvard's dismal performance in the Beanpot--by far the more meaningful games--in recent years.
4. It's comforting to believe that this game was a total anomaly for Harvard. Harvard deviated from its game plan early, couldn't skate with BC, and didn't have an answer on the PP. The team now has 2 weeks to reflect on this debacle before playing Ohio State on Dec. 29, a game that Harvard ought to win.
Almost halfway through the year, there is a lot to be optimistic about. Harvard is a point out of first place in the ECAC, a league that continues to reflect remarkable parity. Few thought Richter would establish himself as one of the nation's premier goalies early on. Michael Biega has lifted the Crimson offense in recent games. 6 goals for the younger Biega, 4 on the PP. Can Biega became the sniper that Harvard desperately needs? The D has looked outright dominant at times, though shaky at others. I'd say the big challenge for Harvard going forward is finding more scoring up front. Harvard has too much talent among its forwards to continue its current level of production.
We will be back on the airwaves on January 4 for Harvard @ Quinnipiac. The game is at 7pm, our coverage begins at 6:45pm. Tune in to 95.3 FM or log onto whrb.org for all the action.