Preview: RPI vs. Harvard
RPI face their toughest challenge of the season as they welcome the Crimson to the Field House Friday night
RPI look to break a three-game losing skid against a potent offensive team in Harvard this Friday night. It’s a Harvard team that is the only one left in the country not to have lost a game yet (granted, they have only played 4 and they were mostly against teams slated to be in the bottom half of the ECAC). As is often the case, they have some truly elite players – nearly half of their team has been taken in the past couple drafts. So needless to say, this will probably be the most challenging game of the season so far.
There’s going to be a little bit extra juice to this game: the last time RPI saw Harvard was in March, watching as Harvard moved onto the semifinals, and their own season came to an end. It was a playoff series in which RPI was oh-so close to breaking their Lake Placid drought.
That playoff series showed how good Harvard could be when they scored 3 goals with less than four minutes left to tie the game after being down 3-0, but it also proved that they aren’t invincible by any means, even with a roster full of future-NHLers.
Here’s who to watch out for:
Matthew Coronato (#19, C) was the 13th overall pick in the draft by the Flames last year and he’s probably one of the best players at the college level right now. Just a high-skill player with immense vision, capable of breaking down defenses in his sleep. It will be critical for RPI to limit how much time and space he has to work with.
Alex Laferriere (#18, RW) is a speedy winger capable of being a top powerplay threat as well as a strong penalty-killer. Just plays an all-around solid game. He was picked in the third round of the 2020 draft by Los Angeles.
Sean Farrell (#21, LW) is another high pace player who has spent most of the season up on the top-line alongside Coronato putting up points for fun.
What to Watch For
Harvard is the type of team that is set up to capitalize on mistakes. They have the speed and skill to quickly create odd-man rushes from bad turnovers. RPI turned the puck over a lot in the Union series, but were better (at least in the defensive zone) against Clarkson/St. Lawrence.
Puck Possession in the Offensive Zone
RPI really just has not had much sustained pressure in the offensive zone over the past two weekends, and it’s meant that they just aren’t creating nearly enough high-danger scoring chances. If RPI can be more effective at getting through the neutral zone and generating controlled offensive zone entries, then they should have better puck possession which should lead to more dangerous scoring chances.
Staying Out of the Box
Really high speed/skill teams tend to draw a lot of penalties and then go score goals on the ensuing powerplay with ease. Harvard does just that. They are drawing around 4.5 penalties per game and scoring on nearly half of them. Staying out of the box is quite the cliche, but it’s especially relevant against a powerplay led by Matt Coronato.
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