October 18, 2013

ECAC Journal: Donato, Harvard ready to turn the page

By Dan Guttenplan

Harvard coach Ted Donato is ready to close the book on a 2012-13 season that saw his team finish last in ECAC Hockey for the first time since the formation of the conference.

He's ready to stop having to answer questions about a cheating scandal that resulted in what was widely reported as four players leaving school for the entire season. But before Donato moves on, he would like to set the record straight once and for all.

"It was five guys; it was actually five," Donato said. "I've seen four in a lot of places, but five guys left school."

The 2012-13 opened with much promise for the Crimson only six months after they played Union in the 2012 ECAC Hockey tournament championship game, coming painfully close to qualifying for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. An incoming freshman class headlined by Jimmy Vesey (North Reading, Mass.) figured to put the Crimson over the top in their quest for an NCAA tournament berth, but the cheating scandal rocked the team seven games into the season.

After a 4-3-0 start to the season, the Crimson went 2-15-1 in the 18 games that immediately followed the departure of the five players from school.

"I'm not going to say that was the entire reason, but losing those guys so suddenly after seven games was a big hit to the team," said Vesey, who led the team with 11 goals and earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year. "We had a good start, and we lost a lot of momentum. We struggled to score goals."

All five players have returned to the Crimson this fall, along with a freshman class that is arguably as good as any in ECAC Hockey. Suddenly, the Crimson are set to open the season Oct. 26 with plenty of depth just a short year after they were shorthanded for the majority of last season.

"I think we're really excited to get the guys who missed last year back," Vesey said. "We'll see what our freshmen can do. We have a really strong freshman class, they've been strong in practice so far. Getting those guys back could help propel us into a strong season."

Game of the Week

UMass Lowell at Quinnipiac, Saturday (HighPoint Solutions Arena)

Quinnipiac is 14-0-1 in its first home game of the season since joining the Division I ranks in 1998-99. Prior to the start of the game, Quinnipiac will unveil three banners the team’s 2012-13 season that featured the ECAC Hockey regular season title, the NCAA Northeast Regional championship, and the trip to the NCAA Frozen Four.

Player of the Week

Matt Weninger (senior goalie, St. Lawrence)

Weninger made his 50th consecutive start in a 3-1 victory over Maine, finishing with 25 saves. The senior led St. Lawrence to a victory in its home-opener for the second year in a row.

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