December 14, 2012

ECAC Journal: Controversy hovering over Harvard

By Dan Guttenplan

Harvard goalie Steve Michalek was among four players to leave the team. (Dave Arnold Photography)

A season that began with such promise for the Harvard hockey team took a major hit during a recent 19-day stretch between games from Nov. 17 to Dec. 7.

Senior forward Max Everson, sophomore defensemen Patrick McNally and Mark Luzar, and sophomore goaltender Steve Michalek (Glastonbury, Conn.) took leaves of absence from the university, according to Harvard athletic department spokesman Jeff Selesnick.

“We can not speculate on the duration of the absences and can not comment on the nature of their leaves,” Selesnick wrote in an email to New England Hockey Journal. “Coach (Ted) Donato will not be available for an interview on the matter, but he has reiterated that those four are no longer on the roster.”

According to a report in the Crimson newspaper, the four sophomores may be involved in a cheating scandal which took place last school year. The scandal involves more than 100 students, including the top returning scorer on the basketball team, Kyle Casey.

The repercussions of scandal could be even more devastating for a Harvard hockey team that played in the ECAC Hockey Championship game against Union last year. The Crimson returned this fall with every intention of taking the next step to ECAC Hockey champion and NCAA tournament qualifier, but the loss of Everson and McNally, in particular, could prove devastating.

Last season, both Everson and McNally played on the nation's top power-play, a unit that converted 27.2 percent of its opportunities. Everson tallied 13 goals and 20 assists on the season. McNally, a Milton Academy alumnus who was voted to the All-ECAC Rookie Team, tallied six goals and 22 assists.

None of the three players were off to a great start this season, and the pending suspensions may have had something to do with it. McNally, a Vancouver Canucks prospect, had three points in seven games. Everson, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, had only one. Michalek hadn't logged a single minute of ice time after serving as the starter for much of last season. He left school in November to play for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the USHL, but told the Cedar Rapids Gazette at the time that his departure from Harvard was unrelated to his lack of playing time.

Harvard is 0-1-1 since returning from the 19-day stretch between games that also included the suspension of the four players. The Crimson fell to UMass-Lowell 5-0 in their most recent game Dec. 10. In that game, they came out with little energy, falling behind 2-0 in the opening 15 minutes. They also finished with little energy, allowing three third-period goals.

Following that game, the Crimson will have another extended stretch between games, this time 18 days before a Dec. 29 game against Northeastern. Let's hope for the Crimson this layoff goes better than the last.

Player of the Week

Kyle Baun, fr., F, Colgate

Baun led Colgate to a weekend sweep of UMass with six points on three goals and three assists. He tallied two goals and two assists in the 6-4 win Friday night. He then recorded the ?rst two goals of the game the next night in a 5-2 win.

Game of the Week

St. Lawrence at Clarkson, Dec. 15 (7 p.m.) at Appleton Arena

Clarkson will look to snap a three-game losing streak in a matchup with a Hockey East foe. Scoring goals has been an issue for the Saints of late. They have been held to a total of three goals in their last three losses.

Power Rankings

1. Quinnipiac (12-3-2, 8-0-0): If you're thinking the Bobcats might be primed for their first loss in ECAC play, you would be wrong. They have outscored their last four ECAC opponents 13-2.

2. Dartmouth (7-2-2, 4-1-1): The in-state rivalry showdown with UNH Dec. 30 is looking like a marquee matchup to kick off New Year's Eve celebrations.

3. Yale (7-3-2, 3-3-1): The Bulldogs rebounded nicely after getting smoked by RPI, 6-1, Dec. 7. The next night, they earned a 2-2 tie against Union, and on Dec. 10, they picked up a win over UMass.

4. Cornell (6-3-2, 3-3-2): In Cornell's next game, the Big Red will play a rematch from last year's NCAA tournament quarterfinal. They will meet Ferris State, a team that beat them 2-1 in March.

5. Union (8-3-4, 3-2-3): After ties at Brown and Yale last weekend, the Dutchmen stretched their winless streak to four games. They have not recorded a victory since Nov. 25, and they don't play against until Dec. 29.

6. Harvard (4-4-1, 3-3-0): The Crimson will need their marquee freshman class more than ever after the departure of four players involved in the Harvard cheating scandal.

7. Colgate (9-7-2, 3-4-1): The Raiders finished off 2012 with a sweep at UMass. Considering the graduation of Austin Smith last spring, it's an admirable start to the season.

8. Princeton (3-6-3, 2-3-3): Not a great showing for the Tigers last weekend at Quinnipiac. They were outshot 62-30 and outscored 6-1.

9. Clarkson (4-7-5, 3-3-1): The Golden Knights finished off the season sweep of St. Lawrence Dec. 8. Even if the first semester didn't go as well as they planned, they can sleep easy over Christmas break.

10. St. Lawrence (7-7-2, 1-4-2): The Saints started the season 5-1-0 in their first six games. They are 2-6-2 since.

11. Brown (3-5-2, 0-3-2): The Bears have played well in their last four games, logging a 1-1-2 record against Holy Cross, Yale, RPI and Union. The one loss to Yale was by a single goal.

12. RPI (4-6-4, 1-5-2): It appears that, for the second year in a row, the Engineers are going to turn it around after a brutal start to the season. They went 0-5-1 in their first six ECAC games before going 1-0-1 against Brown and Yale last weekend.

Dan Guttenplan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @thx4playing.