PRINCETON, N.J. -- (Bracket) No. 2/2 Harvard and No. 9/9 Cornell will begin NCAA Tournament competition this weekend. This will be the 24th all-time NCAA trip for the Crimson and the 20th appearance in program history for the Big Red.
No. 2/2 Harvard (26-5-2), which earned the No. 1 seed in the East Region and third overall seed in the tournament, will face off against the fourth-seeded Providence Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 24. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Harvard claimed the ECAC Hockey automatic berth as the league’s regular-season and tournament champion, while Providence was an at-large selection out of the Hockey East Association. The Crimson hold the all-time series edge over the Friars, 17-9-1, though the teams have not met since January 12, 1984.
Harvard enters Friday’s contest—the first-ever NCAA Tournament meeting of the two programs—unbeaten in its last 16 games (15-0-1), including 14-straight victories. The Crimson have outscored their opponents 70-28 during the streak.
A trio of 40-point scorers fuel the high-powered Crimson offense—senior forward Sean Malone (18-24—42), senior forward Tyler Moy (18-23—41) and senior forward and Hobey Baker finalist Alexander Kerfoot (16-25—41). Sophomore forward Ryan Donato (20-18—38), senior forward Luke Esposito (16-20—36) and freshman defenseman Adam Fox (5-31—36) have also totaled 35-plus points on the year.
Junior goaltender Merrick Madsen anchors the Harvard back line with a 2.18 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. He was recently named a semifinalist for the Mike Richter Award, which honors the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men’s ice hockey.
No. 13/13 Providence (22-11-5) is led by junior forward Brian Pinho (12-28—40), sophomore forward Erik Foley (15-19—34) and freshman forward Josh Wilkins (13-18—31).
The winner of Friday’s first round matchup will advance to take on the winner of Air Force and Western Michigan in the NCAA quarterfinals at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25. The quarterfinal round will be broadcast on ESPNU.
No. 9/9 Cornell (21-8-5) earned the No. 3 seed in the Northeast Region and will face off against the two-seeded UMass-Lowell River Hawks at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, N.H., at 12 noon on Saturday, March 25. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
Cornell was an at-large selection out of ECAC Hockey, after falling to Harvard, 4-1, in the conference’s tournament finale on March 18. UMass-Lowell claimed the Hockey East Association automatic berth as the league’s regular-season and tournament champion. The River Hawks won the lone prior meeting of the teams, 3-2, on Dec. 28, 2007 in the Florida College Hockey Classic.
Sophomore forward Mitch Vanderlaan (15-13—28), senior defenseman Patrick McCarron (6-19—25), senior forward Jake Weidner (8-16—24) and junior forward Trevor Yates (12-10—22) are the key cogs in the Big Red offensive attack.
Cornell senior goaltender Mitch Gillam owns a 2.17 goals against average and a .921 save percentage on the season.
No. 4/4 UMass-Lowell (26-10-3) is led by a pair of 50-point scorers in senior forward Joe Gambardella (18-33—51) and junior forward C.J. Smith (22-28—50). Junior forward John Edwardh (18-19—37) and senior defenseman Dylan Zink (10-25—35) had also tallied 35-plus points for the River Hawks this season. Gambardella was recently honored with the 65th Walter Brown Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England.
The winner of Saturday’s first round matchup will advance to face off against the winner of No. 1 seed Minnesota and fourth-seeded Notre Dame in the NCAA quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 26. The quarterfinal round will be broadcast on ESPNU.