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Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Preview - Harvard vs. Dartmouth

This week, The Harvard Crimson face-off against The Dartmouth Big Green in what is sure to be a memorable game. Both teams stand 2-1 in league play, and so a victory here is crucial to remain in contention for the Ivy League Championship Title.


When Harvard and Dartmouth faced each other last, The Crimson pulled off a decisively one-sided victory over The Big Green, 41-10. With blizzard-like conditions around them, Harvard had three different players rush for more than 100 yards and 2 touchdowns each.


Last week for Dartmouth, The Big Green faced The Columbia Lions, with a come-from behind victory in the 4th quarter with only a 1:09 remaining on the clock. QB Alex Park lead a mammoth 91 yard drive; completing three straight passes to Ryan McManus, ran for 13 yards himself, and then hit McManus again for the first down to put the Big Green at the Lions 15yard line. A series of penalties to both teams would follow a few short passes, but nonetheless Park was able to find TE Dean Bakes for the winning touchdown.

Last week for Harvard, The Crimson were upset as they lost 39-34 to Princeton Tigers. Despite Harvard leading 34-10 going into the Fourth Quarter, The Tigers pulled off a massive 29 point run to which The Crimson had no answer. Harvard was plagued all game by a series of both offensive and defensive mistakes, such as a blocked extra point attempt and punt, as well as a fumble, interception, and blocked FG attempt during Princeton's 4 back-to-back touchdowns. 

Be sure to tune-in into what is sure to be a great game, as Harvard seeks to make-up for its loss last week while Dartmouth looks to maintain momentum coming off their victory.

Attention Harvard Hockey Fans!!

This Saturday, 10/27, due to a conflicting schedule between the Harvard Football Game at Dartmouth and the Harvard Men's Hockey Game at Home, the first portion of the hockey game will air over our low-band web-stream over at www.whrb.org. The football game will play in its entirety over regularly scheduled radio air. Upon completion of the football game, we will likewise switch broadcast of the hockey game over to our regularly scheduled radio air. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you tune in!

WHRB Men's Hockey Season Preview: Hit 'Em Where It Hurts


The Harvard Crimson men’s hockey team enters the 2012-2013 campaign with high hopes. Last year, the Crimson set a school record for ties on their way to a 13-10-11 overall record and a third place finish in the conference. They extended this surprise run to the ECAC Championship game, where they lost a third period lead to Union. The new season finds the Crimson ranked 3rd in the conference in the ECAC Hockey Media Association Preseason Poll and 17th in the nation in the USCHO.com rankings. The men won an exhibition last Friday against McGill by the score of 5-1 and open the regular season in earnest this Saturday against Bentley at home.

Forwards

Last year’s offense was prolific, leading the nation at almost 3.5 goals per game for the first half of the season before cooling off slightly and finishing at a clip of 3.12 goals per game and 27% conversion on the power play. The Crimson lose star forward Alex Killorn, who led the team with 23 goals and 46 points, to graduation. Also gone is Eric Kroshus, sixth on the team with 19 points, and David Valek, whose late-season scoring spree was critical in helping Harvard reach the ECAC finals.

However, the Crimson still return 58% of their goal-scoring. Marshall Everson, who finished second to Killorn among forwards in goals and points after a spectacular second half, will again play on the top line with Alex Fallstrom, whose health is always a question but whose talent never is. The team’s top returning center, Luke Greiner, had a breakout junior year with 9 goals. Colin Blackwell and Tommy O’Regan head the sophomore class.

If Harvard is to score as often as it did last year, however, it will need strong contributions from its freshmen. If the exhibition game against McGill is any indication, this will not be a problem. The Crimson’s top-rated recruiting class is headlined by Brian Hart and Jimmy Vesey, 2nd and 3rd round NHL draft picks respectively. Vesey set a scoring record in the EJHL with 91 points last year in 45 games and dominated the exhibition against McGill. Hart brings both size and speed to the ice and was the USHR prep player of the year as a senior at Philips Exeter, scoring 68 points in 29 games. The forwards are rounded out by Kyle Criscuolo, Greg Gozzo, and Brayden Jaw, all of whom should expect fourth line playing time at the least.

Defensemen

The Crimson look to be much improved on defense after a frustrating season that saw them allow 2.8 goals per game and only kill 79% of penalties. Danny Biega returns for his senior year as Harvard 120th captain, replacing Ryan Grimshaw. Biega was second on the team with 35 points and earned numerous season honors as Harvard’s best all around blue-liner, also leading the team with a plus/minus of +14. He will begin the season paired with junior Dan Ford, who contributed 15 points of his own last year but is more than capable of playing the stay-at-home role if needed.

Offensive wonder Patrick McNally returns after one of the best rookie seasons in all of Divison I last year, as does Max Everson, who also played every game as a freshman and led Harvard in blocked shots. Brendan Rempel and Danny Fick, who split the season almost equally after Rempel went down with an injury, are also returning. Mark Luzar, who missed all of his freshman year due to injury, looks to log his first minutes in a Harvard uniform. The Crimson have one freshman defenseman, Desmond Bergin, who appears to be as offensively-minded as McNally was last year and who should see third-pairing minutes.

Goaltenders

At this time last year, Raphael Girard and Steve Michalek had one career start between them. Now with good experience under their belts, both goalies look to improve on what was an inconsistent but promising 2011-2012 season. Michalek won the job as a freshman before conference play began, but a combination of spotty defense and soft goals led to a 7-7-8 record, 3.19 goals against average and .895 save percentage that belie his athleticism and resilience in net. Girard reclaimed the starting role at the end of the season and was spectacular, stopping 129 of 136 shots from Yale in the conference quarterfinals and only allowing two goals against Union in the final when the Dutchmen could easily have had six. He finished the season with a 6-3-3 record, 2.14 goals against average and  .933 save percentage, leading all ECAC goaltenders in the playoffs with a .947 save percentage and 1.81 goals against average.

This year, Girard will most likely begin the season as the starter, but head coach Ted Donato has been eager to platoon his goaltenders depending on who is playing well. The seventh and final Crimson freshman, Peter Traber, is unlikely to see any time behind two goaltenders trying to build on last season and secure the starting job.

Overall

Harvard has all the talent required to finish in the top half of the ECAC and competing for a first round bye for the second straight year. Marshall Everson and Alex Fallstrom are outstanding forwards and will produce goals all season long, but if the freshman are as good as advertised, Harvard will roll four dangerous lines in addition to three skillful and aggressive defensemen. Should the injury bug strike or the underclassmen underperform, the Crimson will be weakest up the middle of the ice and Donato might have to spread his scorers out to prevent Harvard from becoming a two-line team. Four of the five skaters from Harvard’s top power-play unit last year return, and Vesey looked comfortable playing Killorn’s spot on the halfboards against McGill.

Defensively, the Crimson are as deep as they’ve been in recent memory and have an ideal mix between puck-moving and responsible defensemen. Harvard also returns some top penalty-killing forwards in Greiner and Blackwell. Bergin and four of the freshman forwards weigh in at over 190 pounds, meaning this team could also be the hardest-hitting to take the ice at the Bright Center in some time. Finally, after last year’s frequent frustration and occasional brilliance, both goaltenders expect to be more consistent in net. WHRB Sports thinks that both Union and Cornell are better at this point, to be discussed in more depth in our upcoming all-ECAC preview. Nevertheless, given the experience gained during the final months of last year and the hype surrounding the incoming players, it should shock no one if Harvard makes another run at the conference title. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Football: Ivy League Week 4 Preview

Dartmouth (2-1) at Yale (1-2)
The Big Green fell 28-21 to Penn last week.  Dartmouth probably deserved to lose the game, being modestly out-gained and out-first-downed.  Much of the difference was a result of Penn sacking Alex Park four times.  Park had an otherwise strong game, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns on 72% passing.  Dartmouth had a chance to get the ball back late, but the Quakers killed the final 3:33 (and three timeouts) by picking up a pair of rushing first downs.  Meanwhile, good old Eli  again had his defense torn to shreds, this time at the hands of Colgate.  Though terrible, Yale's defense was at least balanced, allowing 275 yards through the air and 267 more on the ground.  Raider QB Gavin McCarney threw for two touchdowns and rushed for four more.  Neither Dartmouth nor Yale could slow the run last week, and this game features two good backs in Dominick Pierre (350 yards on the season) and Tyler Varga (319).  Dartmouth's O-Line has allowed 11 sacks through three games; Yale's D has only recorded three.  Neither team is much better on the other side of the ball either.  This figures to come down to the fact that Yale can't stop the pass, and that Park (two INTs) takes better care of the ball than Yale freshman Eric Williams (eight).

Columbia (1-2) at Lehigh (5-0)
Lehigh comes in ranked 10th in the country.  A skeptic might point out that their last three wins have been by eight points combined.  Which, true, maybe Lehigh isn't the tenth-best outfit in the FCS.  But Columbia lost by 27 to Princeton last weekend.  This shouldn't be close.

Brown (2-1) at Rhode Island (0-4)
Rhody is terrible this year.  Their closest loss was a 31-10 filling-in at the hands of Villanova.  They've been out-gained by 300 yards per game.  At the risk of overusing italics, they've averaged 2.2 yards per carry.  They're awful.  Bruno is coming in off a 37-10 shellacking of Georgetown.  Patrick Donnelly (62% completions, 7 TD to 2 INTs) has been an efficient replacement for the graduated Kyle Newhall-Caballero, and Spiro Theodhosi is now up near 350 yards on the season.  Brown should win their third Governor's Cup in four years.

William & Mary (1-4) at Pennsylvania (1-2)
Penn's victory over Dartmouth was their first of the season.  The Quakers also recorded their first (four) sack(s) of the season.  Billy Ragone was his usual shifty self in the run game, and had his best day passing on the season (only 165 yards, but on just 18 attempts and with no interceptions).  Although they let Dartmouth back in the game (they held a 20-0 lead at one point), it was overall a solid road win.  W&M also got their season's first win last week by crushing Sun Belt Conference-bound Georgia State.  Three of their losses earlier this year were by three, three, and one (at Maryland, no less!) point.  Jerome Couplin and Brian Thompson give the Tribe a pair of extremely active safeties; I expect them to force an error or two on Ragone's part.

Princeton (1-2) at Lafayette (3-1)
The Tigers got in the win column last week, but it was against Columbia so I'm not sure it counts.  The Lions were held to 1.3 yards per carry.  The game could have been even more lopsided, as of Princeton's nine drives that got inside the Columbia 30, only three ended in touchdowns (four more ended in short field goals and two in turnovers).  Leaving that many potential points on the field probably won't work against a solid Lafayette team.  The Leopards lost for the first time last week, coming up three points short at Robert Morris.  Lafayette is not a particularly strong team offensively, but on defense they've already picked off 11 passes.  If Connor Michelsen, who has been generally a non-factor so far this year, can keep the ball out of Lafayette's secondary's hands, the Tigers have a shot.

Picks About Which I Am Extremely Confident
Dartmouth 31 - 20 Yale
Lehigh 34 - 10 Columbia
Brown 24 - 10 Rhode Island
William & Mary 23 - 17 Penn
Lafayette 24 - Princeton 20

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weekend Preview - Harvard vs. Cornell

This week the Harvard Crimson face-off against the Cornell Big Red in what's sure to be a high-scoring, slug-fest of a match. This game pits the offensive prowess of Harvard, who have this weeks Ive League Offensive Player of the Week, quarterback Colton Chapple, as well as running back Trevor Scales, who was the back-to-back Ive League Offensive Player of the Week two weeks prior, against Cornell's Jeff Matthews, who was last years Ive League Offensive Player of the Year.

Last week, The Crimson had a massive victory over the Holy Cross Crusaders, overpowering them 52-3. Chapple threw 13-18 for 260 yards and 4 touchdowns, in addition to running one in himself. This game set the school record for most points in a half , with 49 of the 52 points coming in the first half. Not to be outdone, The Big Red had a 15-10 victory over the Bucknell Bisons, with Matthews throwing for 278 yards and running in a touchdown of his own.

Be sure to tune-in folks, it's sure to be one of the most memorable games of the season.