Coming off a tough loss on Friday night in Hamilton, the Crimson responded well through two periods against fierce rival the Cornell Big Red, who were ranked #5 in the country at the time. But another tough third period left the Crimson on the losing end of things once again. Now we present our five thoughts on the game after the jump.
1. The Crimson responded well after allowing the comeback win for Colgate on Friday night, jumping out to an early lead and keeping it through two periods. The third period was a rough one though for the Crimson, who ended up being outscored 8-0 in the third on the weekend. We still have not seen a complete 60 min. effort for the Crimson so far, and that's what it is going to take for them to earn wins next weekend on the road.
2. The Crimson need to keep it simple and do the little things correctly. Harvard had its most success over the weekend when they crossed the red line and dumped the puck deep. By dumping and chasing, you are forcing the other team's defensemen to turn their backs toward you and go find the puck. The Crimson have enough speed on offense that they should easily catch the defender as he makes his pivot and skates into the corner, which means the Crimson can generate turnovers and get the offense going. Too many times though, the Crimson tried to skate the puck across the blue line, only to get bodied off the puck by a defensemen. These turnovers in neutral ice killed the Crimson, as they lead to the other team being able to attack on the rush and set up in the Harvard defensive zone. Harvard had a great game plan to beat Cornell, and it worked through the first two periods, but they got away from it in the third.
3. Despite the eleven goals against on the weekend, these two losses are not the fault of the men between the pipes or the blueliners. Richter and Carroll got beat with some tough shots that were the result of the Crimson scrambling around and trying unsuccessfully to clear the puck out of their zone. These scrambles of course led to both turnovers and some wide open opposition players, who now had great opportunities to score and did so. The Harvard forwards need to do a better job of helping the defense get the puck out of the zone, and they also can't get caught watching the play, something which happened a couple of times.
4. The Crimson need to figure out a better way to respond to the teams that come out hungry after an intermission break. Colgate in the second period on Friday and Cornell in the third period on Saturday came out of the locker rooms like men possessed, playing very fast, aggressive, physical hockey that put the Crimson players on their heels a little bit. Harvard then compounded the problem by trying to do to much in trying to respond to this aggression, and the result was the Colgate and Cornell were able to jump all over them. Harvard needs to learn how to match the other teams' intensity, but to also do so while sticking with the game plan that put them ahead in the first place.
5. In order to not end on a negative, one of the silver linings we saw this weekend was the sheer depth that the Crimson have when it comes to the offense. While Colgate and Cornell really generated their offense from the same core group of players, Harvard had a good mix, as seven different players scored this weekend. On the season, the Crimson have had eight different goal scorers, and twelve different players with points. That's a great mix, and shows the potential for this team for when they learn the lessons of this weekend. Of particular note, Alex Killorn and Chris Huxley have both been playing tremendously well at the start of the season, and they are tied with Louis Leblanc at five points for the most of any Crimson players. As good as both players were last year, they have clearly grown better during the offseason. Huxley is also playing well defensively, and played a great, physical game against Cornell, something the Crimson were lacking a little on the blue line last year.