Thursday, December 31, 2009

View From the Booth- Harvard Grabs First Home Win

The Harvard Crimson picked up their first home win of the season, first win over a ranked opponent, and first win of any kind since Oct. 30 with their 3-1 win over the No. 8 Quinnipiac Bobcats. Coming up after the jump, we have our Five Thoughts on the game. Also below, you can hear yesterday's press conference with Coach Ted Donato and Senior Captain Alex Biega.

Click HERE for Coach Donato's postgame remarks.

1. It was a good day for the freshmen as Louis Leblanc netted his fourth goal of the year to earn the game winner on the power play, while Luke Greiner and David Valek each added tallies for their first career collegiate goals. Greiner and Valek played together with Colin Moore, and that line was effective throughout the game on the forecheck, generating some quality offensive chances and keeping play in Quinnipiac's zone.

2. Last time out, Kyle Richter was pulled after giving up 3 quick goals against Boston College, but this time around, Richter looked like he has returned to form, making 36 saves on the night. A couple of the saves were of the "How did that not go in?" variety, including a small flurry in the second period where Richter needed to hook his leg back to knock away the puck that was behind him and heading goal ward. The shutout bid was ended early in the third period after a converted rebound, but the Richter was able to keep out everything else to earn the win.

3. When the Bobcats scored at 02:37 mark of the third period, Harvard fans couldn't help flashing back to Colgate, Cornell, and Clarkson, all games which saw Harvard leads evaporate in the third period. The ending was different against Quinnipiac though, as the Crimson were finally able to close out a lead into a win. That being said, the Crimson need to tighten up better in their zone during the third period, as the Bobcats had 17 shots in the third, grabbing their lone goal and playing a great period of hockey that saw them possess the puck in Harvard's zone for long periods of time. A bad bounce and this game could have joined the list of games up above, so while the Crimson will take the win, there's still some work to be done defensively when holding onto a lead.

4. One of the question marks coming into the game was if the Harvard PK could continue the momentum they developed in the Boston College game, where they successfully killed all three Eagle PP opportunities, and they did. Harvard killed off two full power play opportunities (and got credited with a 2 second kill as well) to go 3-3 on the PK against a potent Bobcat PP. The difference is the style of PK, which is a modified diamond PK. One forward presses the defenseman with the puck, taking a way his shooting lane, while the three other defenders stay down low in a triangle, to take away the wide passes and to clear rebounds. If the puck goes D to D, the other Crimson forward skates to press that defenseman, while his forward partner retreats down low. This PK has worked successfully for the Crimson thus far, and they struggle when they break out of what they are doing. A couple of times last night, both defensemen went behind the net on the PK, meaning the Crimson could not get back in this formation by the time the puck came out in front, but Harvard was lucky enough not to give up any goals.

5. The one area the Crimson are still struggling is in the faceoff dot. Last night, Harvard won 30 draws to Quinnipiac's 40. Only one Bobcat player didn't have a winning record at the faceoff dot, Jeremy Langlois, who had 0 wins and 1 loss, while several Crimson players were below five hundred, including Leblanc (4W, 13L), Moore (7W, 10L) and Moriarty (0W, 1L). Faceoffs are especially important when clinging to a third period lead, and struggles to win faceoffs have, at times this season, contributed to the long time of play spent in the defensive zone.

Click HERE for Alex Biega's postgame remarks.

All told that, the Crimson got some much needed momentum and confidence heading into a tough stretch. Coming up next weekend, they have the trip to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers, who struggled early to an 8-9-1 record, but who are currently on a three game winning streak with wins on the road at Minnesota State and then twice at Michigan Tech. Then it is back home for a Tuesday night game against Yale, a team that had Harvard's number last year.

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