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Monday, November 26, 2007

Site news and the week ahead...

The sidebar for our little site has become rather busy, with tons of new info and links we hope you will enjoy. Of special note is our list of this week's broadcasts, which will be updated weekly so that you can remain up to date on what's going on in Crimson sports. Also, we proudly present the complete halftime interview series with Harvard football's Steven Williams.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hockey Blog, Women's Hockey Edition: Harvard destroys, deconstructs St. Lawrence 5-1

Harvard is really good this year. That doesn't properly describe the quality of this team, but I don't want to start making up words. Let's just say this: if that's how they play the second or third best team in the nation, what chance does anyone else have?

1. Coach Katey Stone is a big fan of depth and passing finesse. She saw some of the latter but a whole lot of the former, as the third line stepped up huge tonight, playing the Saints extremely tough and adding a goal or two. Going in Zak and I suspected St. Lawrence had a slight speed advantage, but that was pretty much completely neutralized by the Crimson's ability to constantly refresh itself and send another strong, rested line out there.

2. Caitlin Cahow gets penalized quite a bit. One of the two Olympians on the team, she's probably the Crimson's best defenseman, but she definitely skates that tightrope* between aggressive and illegal. Some nights she does it well, but tonight it must be said was not one of her better outings, as she got sent to the box three times. Of course, when you rack up as many points as she does, I guess I shouldn't make too big a deal out of it.

*How's that for mixed sports metaphors?

3. Credit Coach Stone for showing a little creativity on the strategic front, having Sarah Vaillancourt line up in the left defense position to start the second period. She and Cahow instantly connected on a series of crisp passes and, twenty-four seconds later, the Crimson had scored again. I don't know how much control a coach can really have over the movement of a hockey game as once the puck is dropped the flow of the game mostly dictates the action, but she made an interesting move there that paid off big.

4. Anna McDonald, the sophomore transfer from Boston College who actually beat the Crimson in 3OT in the Beanpot last year, has tremendous ability and can really lead an offense. Getting her to come over to our side was a huge coup for this team, and she's right up there with Liza Ryabkina as an immediate contributor to the team in their first season at Harvard.

5. Huge, huge shoutout to Christina Kessler for going almost four hours of gametime without giving up a goal. There isn't much more you can say. Just kudos to her, I guess.

My thanks to Zak Kline, Nick Crowne, and Saul Gorman for making the broadcasts of the games possible, and of course thanks to everyone who listened in. Men's hockey resumes November 28 at 7:30 as the Crimson take on the Yale Bulldogs. As always, Nick Crowne and Ben Weintraub have the call.

Friendly Reminder: Women's Hockey vs. St. Lawrence today at 4:00

Alasdair Wilkins and Zak Kline have the call as the Harvard Crimson look to improve to 6-0 on the year against the eighth-ranked St. Lawrence Saints. Drop of the puck is at 4:00 with our coverage beginning around 3:45.

Listen to it here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hockey Blog, Women's Hockey Edition: Harvard routs Clarkson 5-0 to improve to 5-0

Welcome to this special guest edition of the hockey blog, as I step in to comment on the Harvard women's hockey team's play this Thanksgiving weekend.

1. The two goals by Katharine Chute is as good a testament as any to the interchangeability of this Crimson squad. Not to take anything away from the freshman center, but it's fair to say she's one of several players who could have been on the receiving end of Sarah Vaillancourt's passes. And that's what is so dangerous about this Crimson team - it doesn't really matter if a lot of players are having off-games, as the team only needs one or two to be a scoring threat.

2. Christina Kessler has now not given up a goal in 3 hours, 26 minutes, and 13 seconds of play (that's right, I looked it up). By any standards, that's a superlative shutout streak, although the Crimson defense made her job easy tonight by limiting shots on goal and largely keeping Clarkson in the neutral zone. Expect that shutout streak to end sometime tomorrow when they take on the potent St. Lawrence offense.

3. The Clarkson defense played surprisingly well considering they let up five goals. Well, I'm adjusting my standards considerably here, but considering how poorly you might have expected them to play from that final score, they in fact did quite a bit better than that. Harvard didn't have a ton of opportunities, but they took advantage of them masterfully. I'm not sure how repeatable a skill that is, but that's ultimately nitpicking what was a total deconstruction of what was supposed to be the tenth best team in the country.

Well, that's all for this one. Congratulations to Harvard women's hockey as they improve to 5-0 on the year on the strength of their most dominating performance yet. Special kudos go to Sarah Vaillancourt, Caitlin Cahow, Katharine Chute, and Christina Kessler.

Zak Kline and I will be back tomorrow to call the St. Lawrence game at 4:00. Coverage will start around 3:45. Thanks again to Nick Crowne for his excellent work producing tonight's game.

Listen to it here.

Harvard Women's Hockey coverage on WHRB

Tune in to 95.3 FM WHRB tonight for Harvard women's hockey vs. Clarkson. The game begins at 7pm, our coverage begins at 6:45pm. Streaming live on the web at whrb.org

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Postgame: Harvard escapes with 2-1 OT victory

Dramatic win by Harvard, with Rogers getting the gamewinner with 1:08 left in OT. 

1. There are a few ways of thinking about this game. Harvard stole this game, no doubt. BU outshot Harvard 40-20 and outworked Harvard. Harvard was 0-7 on the PP and didn't "deserve" to win. But being opportunistic is crucial to the success of any hockey team, and if there is a word that describes this year's Crimson squad it is opportunistic. By the same measure you could say that BU has incredible talent...how are they 3-7-2 on the year? As we observed with last year's Harvard team, if you can't finish, you won't win games. 

2. Richter continues to stand on his head in net. Amazing that he leads the nation in GAA and save percentage, especially after many observers had questions about Harvard's strength in net this year. 39 saves tonight, kept Harvard in the game in the first when BU outshot Harvard 16-4, despite allowing the early goal. One of the most impressive aspects of Richter's game this year has been his ability to bounce back after goals...we saw it from the outset of the year when Clarkson scored 60 seconds in, but Richter was able to respond and give Harvard a chance to win.

3. I said that we should get more visibility on this year's team after the Cornell/Colgate weekend, but I am back to being confused about where this year is going. Harvard is 5-2 overall, 4-2 in the ECAC, but it seems like Harvard has been fortunate to win most of its games. Play in the defensive zone has been shaky, there hasn't been much scoring up front, and PP has been mediocre. By most standards, Harvard shouldn't be over .500 right now. Obviously Richter has bailed out Harvard on a number of occasions, putting the Crimson in position to capitalize on chances, and they have. But how much longer can Richter carry this team?

More Harvard hockey coverage this weekend on WHRB. Tune in Friday at 7:00pm for Women's Hockey vs. Clarkson and at 4:00pm on Saturday for Women's Hockey vs. St. Lawrence. Alasdair Wilkins and Zak Kline have the call on 95.3 FM WHRB, streaming on the web at www.whrb.org

Our next game is November 28 @ Yale. The puck drops at 7:30pm, our coverage begins at 7:15pm.

Apologies for technical difficulties...

Due to unforeseen problems with our equipment, we were forced to cancel our broadcast of tonight's women's basketball game against Fairfield. As some small attempt to make up for this, we present our interview with senior captain Jessica Knox.

Listen to it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

This week's games...

Some exciting games for all to enjoy over the Thanksgiving week...

On Tuesday, Nick Crowne and Ben Weintraub will be taking a trip to Boston University as the men's hockey team takes on the Terriers. The broadcast will start at a little after 7:15. Tune in to the radio at 95.3 FM or stream online over the high bandwidth stream at www.whrb.org.

At the same time, Alasdair Wilkins and Kara Hollis will be calling the women's basketball game against Fairfield, available exclusively on the low bandwidth stream. That broadcast should begin a little before 7:00.

On Friday, Alasdair Wilkins and Zak Kline will be bringing you the women's hockey game against Clarkson at 7:00. They will also be handling the next day's game against St. Lawrence at 4:00. Both games will be on the radio and the high bandwidth stream.

And, as always, tune in on Sunday at 1:00 for Sports Talk, recapping the entire week of Crimson sports.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Interview with ESPN's Pat Forde

As part of the pregame for Harvard-Yale (not to mention my own fannish curiosity), I interviewed columnist Pat Forde of ESPN.com. The interview looks at college football, both generally in terms of the craziness that has been this season and in terms of the Harvard-Yale rivalry.

Take a listen to it right here.

Postgame: Drive for five snapped

Harvard's bid for 5 consecutive wins ended with 2 third period goals by Burton. Tough loss for Harvard but they will be forced to rebound quickly against BU on Tuesday. 

Some thoughts:

1. The Burton goals both seemed odd, though we didn't have a good look from the far end of the ice. It seemed like the gamewinner deflected off a skate in front since Burton fired it from such a sharp angle. Couldn't have gone in on its own but since Burton was credited with the goal it probably hit a skate.

2. The cross-checking penalty on McCafferty late in the third: Again, this occurred in the far side corner and consequently we didn't get a great look at it, but from what I saw, I can understand how Harvard players and coaches would be upset by the call. It looked like Burton (I think) lost an edge against the boards while he was shaded by McCafferty. Did not look like McCafferty got his stick up on the check.

3. Dekanich played an exceptional game for Colgate. Harvard had their chances but Dekanich stepped up in the 3rd, making 12 saves. Dekanich has been up and down this year but he looked on top of his game tonight.

4. Forecheck continues to be an issue for Harvard. Don't know what the solution is, but Harvard hasn't been able to establish a solid forecheck this year.

5. Tough loss but by no means crushing. To put things in perspective, Harvard is still off to a fine start. Now tied for 2nd in the ECAC with Cornell. More pressing is how Harvard will respond on Tuesday against a BU team that is trying to establish a rhythm...3-6-2 record thus far but BU scored 13 goals in a weekend split vs. Vermont. 

Tune in Tuesday night to 95.3 FM for Harvard-BU. The game begins at 7:30pm, our coverage begins at 7:15pm. 

Also, I would like to congratulate our football broadcasters for a year of exceptional coverage on WHRB. Samir Rao, Alasdair Wilkins, and Saul Gorman did a superb job and deserve much praise for a year of high-energy broadcasts.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Harvard ousts Cornell in rivalry game; moves into sole possession of 2nd place in the ECAC

A few quick thoughts on Harvard's 2-1 victory over Cornell:

1. Game winner by McCafferty at 7:30 of the 3rd on a persistent effort by McCollem on the wrap-around. McCafferty showed good awareness pinching in, came out of nowhere to fire the puck home. Always a risky move but it resulted in the GWG tonight. 

2. Harvard was never trailing in the game but in some respects it seemed like a resilient victory. Harvard was outplayed and outworked in the last 10 minutes of the 2nd and seemed a bit fatigued heading into the locker room after 2. I was surprised Cornell wasn't able to capitalize on at least one of the many chances they had in the 2nd. But Harvard controlled play in the 3rd, and the shot totals from the 3rd, 14-4 in Harvard's favor, reflected Harvard's dominance in the period. Cornell never got it going in the 3rd and Harvard really took it to Cornell in the final period. 

3. Richter continues to excel. Had his shutout streak snapped in the first off what seemed like an odd deflection. Didn't get a clear view of it, though. Made some big saves in the 2nd to keep the score tied.

4. Harvard needs to work on its forecheck. Outside of the 4th line the forecheck was a bit weak. Also, as in the Union game, Harvard had difficulty clearing the puck and needs to play more effectively in its own zone. Cornell had several opportunities off of errant clearing attempts.

Tune in to 95.3 FM tomorrow night for Harvard vs. Colgate. The game is at 7:00pm, our coverage begins at 6:45pm. Also, tune in to the Harvard-Yale football game tomorrow on 95.3 FM. The game begins at Noon, but we have an hour-long pregame on WHRB, beginning at 11:00am. 



Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Women's Basketball Broadcast 7:00 tonight only on the Internet

Amy Newsome and Kara Hollis will be calling the Harvard women's basketball team's home opener tonight against Siena. The game is at 7:00. Tune into the low-broadcast stream on www.whrb.org to hear it, which you can directly access below...

Listen to the game!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Postgame: Harvard takes care of business; records first shutout on consecutive nights since 1982

A few quick thoughts:

1. Richter continues his ridiculous play in net, recording his second consecutive shutout. It's still very early in the season, but if Richter can play at close to this level, Harvard can be competitive versus anyone.

2. Credit the Harvard D for extending its strong play, continuing to block shots and make Richter's job easier. Harvard blocked a staggering 29 shots tonight, sealing up the shooting lanes. Alex Biega has played much better in his own zone this year, not only in terms of decision-making but also playing a nastier defensive game.

3. An opportunistic offense. Harvard didn't have an abundance of scoring chances but capitalized when they did. Taylor opened the scoring on a first-rate outlet pass from Pelle and played an all-around superb game. Huxley scored on a shot through a screen on the first PP. Then in the third Dufault scored on a phenomenal individual effort and Magura capped it off with a shorty.

More later this week...Next week should give us a better read on this year's team...Enjoy the victories

Friday, November 9, 2007

Postgame: Harvard wins 3-0; Richter blanks RPI; Christian scores 3rd

All things considered, a solid performance by Harvard. Even strength play was fairly balanced, with both teams trading the momentum, but specialty teams determined this one. Harvard converted on 2 of 6 PP opportunities (Biega, McCafferty), while RPI went 0-5 on the man advantage. Harvard PK continues to impress, but once again the story of the game was Kyle Richter's dominant performance in net for Harvard. 

Richter stopped all 30 shots, recording his first shutout of the year, after a career-high 42 saves against St. Lawrence. He wasn't tested in the same way tonight as he was last weekend, but needless to say stepped up in the game's crucial moments. 

It's still early in the season and consequently it's difficult to read this year's squad, but I think the outlook is positive. As always, the ECAC is wide open, and last year's early season difficulties do seem to be behind this year's team. 

Harvard debut of Pier-Olivier Michaud tonight, playing on the 4th line with Magura and Del Mauro. Quick skater, on the smaller side, but strong on his skates. Set up a few quality scoring chances with Del Mauro in the third. Seemed to click on the 4th line. Rolecek and Watters were scratches. 

Alex Biega continues to impress. Opened the scoring tonight with a PP goal at 19:13 of the first. Quarterbacks the PP skillfully and has a bomb from the point. Scored tonight pinching in on a feed from Pelle. 

Tempers flared late in this one. 4 players called for hitting after the whistle penalties. Possibly some bad blood between these teams, though in recent years we've more often seen physicality after the whistle between Harvard and tomorrow's opponent, Union.

Jack Christian keeps his scoring streak alive, netting his third of the season on a short handed empty netter late in the third. We were calling the game next to Steve Rolecek and Ian Tallett, and both found great amusement in Christian's goal. Can Christian keep it up?

Tune in tomorrow night to 95.3 FM WHRB for Harvard vs. Union. The game starts at 7pm, our coverage begins at 6:45pm. We will also be debuting the new season of Top Shelf with hosts Jimmy Fraser, Kyle Richter, and myself. Send comments to sports@whrb.org and feel free to add your thoughts below.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Weekend observations: Clarkson/St. Lawrence

Welcome to the WHRB Sports Blog, Harvard hockey fans. I hope to regularly update this space with commentary and observations about the team, post coach and player interviews, and keep you updated about upcoming hockey broadcasts on WHRB 95.3 FM.

That said, a few notes about this past weekend's games against Clarkson and St. Lawrence: 

If I had said that Jack Christian would be Harvard's leading goal scorer after 2 games, most would have been seriously alarmed about the potency of the Crimson offense. Yet the Crimson delivered a third period offensive explosion against St. Lawrence, netting 4 goals en route to a 6-1 victory. Half of the Crimson's goals were scored by players who had never scored before--Jack Christian (2) and Dave McDonald, the top defensive defensemen on the team. 

All things considered, I thought Harvard showed a lot of promise this weekend against two of the better teams in the conference. Clarkson is without question a superb team, while SLU appears to have some early-season kinks to resolve after being swept at home and falling to 0-3 in ECAC play. It was not surprising to see them fall out of the USCHO Top 20, while Clarkson moved up to #8 after picking up 4 points on home ice.

Harvard responded well after early nerves against Clarkson resulted in a goal at 1:00 of the first period, but simply couldn't penetrate the Clarkson zone for the last 10:00 of the third period. Possibly a conditioning issue (first game of the year) but credit Clarkson for stepping up and shutting down the Crimson attack.

SLU was a different story. Plenty of scoring chances in a fast-paced first period, with Christian lighting the lamp on a centering feed from Paul Dufault. Harvard gave SLU lots of chances to get back into the game with a string of penalties to begin the 2nd but the Harvard PK was stifling as it was the entire weekend. Fraser blocked a ton of shots on the PK. Obviously Harvard poured it on in the 3rd, with Christian scoring a ENG and McDonald scoring in the waning moments. SLU goaltender Petizian was shaky all night. Alex Biega fired a shot from the red line that hit the crossbar. Petizian clearly didn't have his best game and, in fairness, should have stopped some of the goals he surrendered.  

Story of the weekend was Richter's play in net. Many observers had questions about Harvard's goaltending situation, after a senior goaltender graduated for the third consecutive year. Personally I thought this was somewhat overdone, as it was Richter who played a large role in resurrecting Harvard's 2006-2007 season after its 3-9 start. Sure, his numbers weren't staggering (7-8, 2.84 GAA, .903 sv pct) but remember that his difficult starts against Yale and Brown (5-1 loss and 6-6, respectively) contributed significantly to his stats. Also, Richter has a knack for making big stops that can spark the team. He had some problems controlling his rebounds but made some first-rate saves to keep Harvard in the game against Clarkson and preserve its lead against SLU. I expect Richter to be strong in net this year. 

Defense was strong, especially compared to last year's early season defensive effort. Losing Reese obviously hurts on the offensive side but he was in my estimation Harvard's top shut-down defenseman last year. I expected the D to need some time to establish a groove but they looked solid to me. I expect Alex Biega and Morin to be better in their own zones this year. Biega, as an aside, also appeared more comfortable quarterbacking the PP, and he has a vicious shot from the point. 

More to come later on this weekend's home games vs. #16 RPI and Union...