Friday, January 3, 2020

Weekend Preview: Harvard/Dartmouth

Sophomore Zach Metsa is coming off a breakout game on Sunday against Princeton

Harvard Head Coach: Ted Donato (16th Season)

2019-2020 Harvard record: 7-4-1 (6-2-0 ECAC)

All-time vs. Harvard: Crimson leads series 16-14-5

Harvard Key Players: Casey Dornbach (F), Jack Badini (F), Jack Drury (F), John Farinacci (F), Nick Abruzzese (F), Henry Bowlby (F), Reilly Walsh (D), Jack Rathbone (D), Henry Thrun (D), Mitchell Gibson (G)

A team that got off to a 6-0 start has slumped in the last month to a 1-4-1 record in its last six games. The losses came against the likes of Boston College, Boston University, Cornell and Colgate and a win and a tie out west against Arizona State. Its possible that Quinnipiac is catching the Crimson at the right time in the midst of a bit of a struggle but Harvard has the talent to easily break out of that slump quickly.

The Harvard offense in its four game losing streak slumped to just two goals per game. This past weekend against Arizona State was more like the Crimson offense as they scored four goals each game. The top six for the Crimson is explosive with Jack Badini, Nick Abruzzese, John Farinacci, Jack Drury and Casey Dornbach all having strong years. Austin Wong has finally returned from injury boosting the offense up front and Henry Bowlby continues to give secondary scoring. The Crimson still boost a top ten power play at 23.8% despite not being as strong as it was a season ago.

The top four on the back end for Harvard have been very good with Reilly Walsh, Jack Rathbone, Henry Thrun and Ryan Siedem combining for 36 points and a plus 25. The bottom pairing has been interchangeable with four different players taking those spots but its really about the top four for the Crimson which might be the best in the ECAC and one of the best in the country. While this six game stretch was tough on them they played well in the first of two games against Arizona State last weekend. The struggles on defense in those four losses moved Harvard down to 19th in total defense, one spot ahead of Quinnipiac. The Crimson penalty kill is 9th in the country at just a shade under 87.2%

Michell Gibson has seen the majority of the games this season over Cameron Gornet including starting the last four games. The freshman has outplayed Gornet with a 2.28 goals against and a .931 save percentage versus 2.81 and .924 for Gornet. Their is a lot of upside with Gibson being a 4th round draft pick in 2018 by the Washington Capitals. Gibson held Quinnipiac to just two goals in the teams last meeting a 7-2 win by Harvard.

Dartmouth Head Coach: Bob Gaudet (23rd Season)

2019-2020 Dartmouth record: 6-4-2 (4-2-1 ECAC)

All-time vs. Dartmouth: Quinnipiac leads 20-10-3

Dartmouth Key Players: Will Graber (F), Drew O'Connor (F), Quin Foreman (F), Matt Baker (F), Jeffrey Lossurdo (F), Tanner Palocsik (D), Brendan Demler (D), Joey Matthews (D), Adrian Clark (G)

With a solid first half of the season, the Dartmouth Big Green have positioned themselves nicely for a potential first round bye and home ice in the ECAC playoffs and a chance at its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1980. They are currently #22 in the pairwise rankings with games against good ECAC teams still on the table to make up ground.

Dartmouth is one of the better scoring teams in the country at 3.17 goals per game which places them in the top 15. Sophomore Drew O'Connor has been dominant for the Big Green with 15 points in 12 games including three of his seven goals on the power play. He also leads the team in shots with 52. Quinnipiac's focus needs to be on Drew O'Connor. If they can shut him down you make it very difficult for Dartmouth to win games.  Quin Foreman, Jeffrey Losurdo and Matt Baker have combined for 28 points so far this season. The Big Green have a strong power play just a shade under 23.7% so its important for Quinnipiac to stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. 

Defensively, the Big Green have given up 3.17 goals which is in the bottom third in the country. However the defense has played well at times most notably in a huge win against Cornell. The consistency has just not been there for them as one game they can look really good and the next really bad. Freshman Tanner Palocsik has been one of their best defensemen with a plus two and eight assists this season. The penalty kill for Dartmouth has been below 80% this season and is an area Quinnipiac could exploit.

Goaltender Adrian Clark has played well with a 6-3-2 record and a .911 save percentage this season. His goals against average is just 2.76 but take out three bad games against New Hampshire, Colgate and Northeastern and he has been really good this season. He made 27 saves in a tie against Quinnipiac earlier this season. His signature win came against previously undefeated Cornell when he saved 39 of 40 shots in a 2-1 win over the Big Red.

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