November 2, 2012

ECAC Journal: Vesey wastes no time making impact

By Dan Guttenplan

North Reading resident Jimmy Vesey wasn't buying into his own hype during the Harvard hockey team's preseason. 

Harvard freshman Jimmy Vesey was selected 66th overall by Nashville at the 2012 NHL Draft. (Getty Images)

According to some publications, the marquee freshman forward is supposed to lift the Crimson to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2006; he is the headliner in the top recruiting class in ECAC Hockey; and he will single-handedly fill the void left by Harvard's All-America selection Alex Killorn.

Vesey knew none of the talk mattered until he produced on the ice. The first impression Vesey left Saturday against Bentley will do nothing to dispel the hype.

Vesey tallied two goals and an assist in Harvard's 5-0 victory over Bentley Saturday in his collegiate debut. He played on the team's power play, sparking a unit that was tops in the nation last season.

“The game (at Bright Hockey Center) was sold out, so I'm not used to playing in front of that many people,” Vesey says. “The guys were older and stronger, so I had less time to make decisions. There was added pressure and nervousness, but I'm happy we came out on top.”

Lighting the lamp is nothing new for Vesey, who played for the South Shore Kings in the EJHL last season. He was named MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, setting EJHL single-season records for points and goals.

The fact that he committed to Harvard was a huge coup for Ted Donato (Dedham, Mass.). The Crimson are looking to carry the momentum from last season when they reached the ECAC Hockey championship game.

“For me, it was a chance to get a top-notch education,” says Vesey, who spent two years at Belmont Hill before playing for the Kings. “Also, I'm a local kid, so playing in the Beanpot is a big deal for me. It was an opportunity to play for a great coaching staff.”

Donato appears to have the program on solid footing despite the graduation of Killorn. Vesey, who was selected in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators, came in the same class as forward Brian Hart, a second-round pick of the 2012 Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Vesey was named ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week Tuesday after playing one game of collegiate hockey.

“Overall, I think the entire freshman class knows we have to produce because of the loss of Alex Killorn and some seniors from last year,” Vesey says. “I always put pressure on myself, but that start will take a little off me.”

Player of the Week

Kyle Bodie, Union

The senior forward matched a single-game career best with four points (two goals, two assists) in an 8-0 win at AIC Friday night.

He scored his second shorthanded goal of the season late in the first period, and added a power-play goal in the second period. Bodie had the primary assist on Wayne Simpson's power-play goal at 4:36 of the second period in a 2-2 tie against Connecticut Saturday.

Game of the Week

Cornell at Colgate, Nov. 2 (Starr Rink)

The ECAC Hockey league season will begin Friday when Cornell visits Colgate in a battle of upstate New York rivals. The rivalry dates back to 1920-1921. Last season, the Raiders swept Cornell during the regular season before falling to Cornell 3-0 in the ECAC Hockey Third Place Game. The teams will meet Saturday night at Cornell.

Power Rankings

1. Cornell (2-0-0): Junior goaltender Andy Iles was ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week after earning two wins over nationally-ranked Colorado College last weekend.

2. Union (3-1-1): Oops. The Dutchmen tied Connecticut (0-2-1) Saturday night in front of 946 fans at Freitas Ice Forum. It's a long way from the Frozen Four.

3. Harvard (1-0-0): Junior goaltender Raphael Girard recorded his first collegiate shutout in a 5-0 victory over Bentley Saturday.

4. St. Lawrence (3-1-0): St. Lawrence forward Kyle Flanagan was named ECAC Hockey Player of the Month for October.

5. Colgate (4-3-0): Who says the Raiders will miss Austin Smith? A 5-1 victory over Quinnipiac Saturday proved otherwise.

6. Quinnipiac (3-2-1): The Bobcats' national ranking likely went out the window with a 5-1 loss to Colgate Saturday.

7. RPI (1-1-2): The Engineers have a great test Friday when Union comes to town. RPI has not earned a victory over Union at home since 2004.

8. Dartmouth (1-0-1): The Big Green won the Ivy Showcase championship with a 4-0 victory over Brown.

9. Yale (1-0-1): The Elis lost to Dartmouth for the first time in 11 meetings Friday, although the game will be scored a tie since it was resolved by a shootout in the Ivy Showcase.

10. Brown (1-0-1): The Bears lifted themselves out of the power-ranking basement with a victory over Princeton in the Ivy Showcase.

11. Princeton (0-2-0): The Tigers failed to earn a point in the Ivy Showcase.

12. Clarkson (0-4-1): Hard to believe Clarkson has yet to earn a victory when the last three games included a home game against Holy Cross and two against Niagara. 

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