Thursday, November 1, 2018

Weekend Preview: Harvard/Dartmouth

Karlis Cutske and the Quinnipiac Bobcats open ECAC play this weekend

Harvard Head Coach: Ted Donato (15th Season) 219-201-52

2018-2019 Harvard record: 0-1

All-time vs. Harvard: Harvard leads 14-13-5

Harvard Key Players: Lewis Zerter-Gossage (F), Nathan Krusko (F), Jack Badini (F), Jack Drury (F), Adam Fox (D), John Marino (D), Reilly Walsh (D), Jack Rathbone (D)

For the first time since the 2015-2016 season Quinnipiac will head into ECAC schedule with an undefeated record. After a sweep of American International College (AIC) moved the Bobcats record to 5-0 they now head on the road to take on Harvard and Dartmouth. Both teams should be a good test to see where Quinnipiac stands in the ECAC.

Harvard lost its best player when Hockey Baker finalist Ryan Donato gave up his final season of eligibility to sign with the Boston Bruins. The Crimson also took a hit when 4th leading scorer Ty Pelton-Byce was ruled academically ineligible for the season. However the Crimson return a handful of quality players up front in Lewis Zerter-Gossage, Jack Badini, Nathan Krusko and Henry Bowlby. They also add talented freshman Jack Drury to the mix along with fellow freshman Baker Shore. Harvard should still have plenty offense up front even if its not going to be as good as in years past.  The power play was deadly against Dartmouth connecting of five out of seven chances.

The Crimson might have the most talented defensive core on paper in the ECAC. Adam Fox is a stud and had a five point game in the opener. He literally can play in the NHL right now as he is that talented. Fox isn't alone returning players Reilly Walsh and John Marino are both NHL draft picks who carry a heavy load on the blue line. Freshman Jack Rathbone, a Vancouver Canucks draft pick gives this team a really good top four defensive combination. What is surprising is this team gave up 7 goals to Dartmouth in the opener but it could just be opening game jitters and they should be much better this weekend.

Harvard's biggest weakness is clearly in goal. Michael Lackey who backed up Merrick Madsen for the past few years takes over in goal. He played very poor in a 7-6 loss against Dartmouth last weekend giving up all 7 goals. He has 16 games of prior experience but there was a reason he was behind Madsen all these years as he tends to struggle at times in net. He's had two seasons of .876 and .899 save percentages and that just is not going to cut it if you are team that has high expectations. It will be interested to see if Donato returns with Lackey on Friday night or goes with another goaltender.

Dartmouth Head Coach: Bob Gaudet (22nd Season) 306-309-73 with Dartmouth. 399-451-104 overall

2018-2019 Dartmouth record: 1-0

All-time vs. Dartmouth: Quinnipiac leads 20-9-2

Dartmouth Key Players: Will Graber (F), Shane Sellar (F), Quin Foreman (F), Alex Jasiek (F), Matt Baker (F), Connor Yau (D), Adrian Clark (G)

The Big Green return 9 of its top 10 scorers from a season ago and they are all forwards so there is a lot of hope that the forwards are even more improved from a season ago. The strength of the Big Green is clearly up front with the talented forwards they have in Will Graber, Shane Sellar and Quin Foreman among others. The power play in the first game of the season was solid potting two out of five chances in the win again Harvard.

Dartmouth's defense is not a strong point of the team. Connor Yau is their best defensive player and a captain. The rest of the returning defenders all were minus players from a year ago and they just gave up six goals in a win against Harvard. Five of those goals came when the Big Green were on the penalty kill. That is not a recipe for success and they can't expect to win consistent shootouts each game.

Just as goal-tending is a weakness in my opinion with Harvard, the same can be said for Dartmouth. Gone is Devin Buffalo who graduated having been replaced with junior Adrian Clark. While Clark picked up the win last week against Harvard, he did so in ugly fashion giving up 6 goals in the win. Previously he has 17 games of experience the past two seasons but if Dartmouth is going to improve off its 16-17-2 record of a year ago it will need more consistent goal-tending.

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