Highs and lows were thematic throughout the 2007-08 men’s hockey season. After losing to No. 11 Clarkson in the season opener, the Crimson won six of their next eight games — outscoring their opponents 23-10. But following a 2-4 road loss against Rensselaer (RPI), the Crimson’s season began to spiral downward, suffering a nine-game winless streak, making the team’s outstanding start a distant memory.
Yet, despite the mid-season stumble, the Crimson still finished strong at 17-13-4, reaching the ECAC championship game for the sixth time in the past seven years. The Crimson’s redeemed season ended just one win shy of the NCAA tournament.
Over the off-season the Crimson lost a great deal of experience. Graduating two of the top three points leaders from last year, the team lost a total of eight seniors from 2007-08. As a result, many of the 19 returning players will see an increase in playing time.
“If you just look at the numbers, the youth doesn’t scare me as much as the inexperience,” said Ted Donato, the Robert D. Ziff ’88 Head Coach for Harvard Men’s Ice Hockey, who is entering his fifth season as head coach. “We like what [we look] like right now, but we’re well aware we’ll have to tweak some things and make some adjustments in order to continue to improve.”
Despite the team’s youth, the Crimson have high expectations. The rankings have Harvard at No. 20, and the ECAC preseason poll projects Harvard to finish second in the conference.
Junior forward Doug Rogers, the Crimson’s top returner in scoring, assists, and points (13-19-32), is expected to carry much of the offensive load for Harvard this season as he continues to develop into a dominant scorer.
“Doug has been one of our best forwards since the day he arrived,” said Donato. “Simply stated, I think he has the ability to be one of the top players — period — in college hockey. … [Rogers is] going to make us obviously a much better team.”
On defense, the Crimson will be led by ECAC preseason selection Alex Biega ’10, who was second on the team in assists last season. “Alex led our team in scoring from the defenseman spot last year, and he’s a guy that’s kind of an anchor for us. … He’s a first-team preseason pick in our league; he’s a guy we count on in a lot of situations.”
Tomorrow night (Oct. 31), the Crimson kick off their season at home against Dartmouth (12-16-4 last season). With Dartmouth’s top two returning points leaders from last year now sophomores, the Big Green comes into the season young but more experienced. After an exhibition game against the U.S. National Under-18 team (Nov. 1), Harvard will play back-to-back games against RPI.