Game of the Week Preview: No. 12 Harvard vs. No. 9 Clarkson
As conference tournaments across college hockey wind down and the NCAA tournament approaches, each game becomes bigger than the last as teams jockey for seeding and Pairwise positioning. This Friday, Clarkson, the No. 3 seed in the ECAC tournament, and Harvard, the No. 4 seed, will face-off in the conference semi-finals in Lake Placid, New York.
As of now, both teams are in the tournament, at No. 9 and 12 in the Pairwise rankings. However, they are by no means safe, as the floundering Atlantic Hockey, whose highest-ranked team is American International College at No. 32 in the Pairwise, will send its champion (AIC, RMU, Niagara or RIT) to the tournament, and ECAC tournament Cinderella team Brown would take a spot if they win the tournament, as would Lake Superior State, who is No. 22 in Pairwise, if they win the WCHA. Additionally, the Big Ten will get two teams, Ohio State and whoever wins the Big Ten championship between Notre Dame and Penn State, and two of the four teams remaining in the Hockey East tournament (Boston University and Boston College) will definitely not get at-large bids and would cause chaos should they win their conference tournament.
Clarkson and Harvard are extremely evenly matched, having split their two meetings this year, and spending most of the season right near each other in the polls. The Crimson are led by junior defenseman Adam Fox, a Carolina Hurricanes prospect who leads the country with 1.48 points per game. Just three total points behind Fox’s 46 is Golden Knights junior winger Nico Sturm, who leads his team in nearly every offensive category other than goals. Clarkson’s most valuable and important piece is junior goaltender Jake Kielly, a workhorse who has exploded this year to lead the country in wins (25), and hold a top-10 spot in goals against average, save percentage, shutouts and minutes played.
The winner of Friday’s Clarkson-Harvard game will play Saturday in the ECAC championship, taking on the winner of eighth-seeded Brown and second-seeded Cornell with a guaranteed spot in the NCAA tournament on the line.
Jeremy Schooler is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism and business. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.