Harvard hockey will cherish its accomplishments and the future

April 8, 2017

CHICAGO — The last time Harvard reached a Frozen Four in 1994, modern apps like GPS and Google maps were still in their infancy.

Yet, this year, a veteran and talented Crimson sextet didn’t need much in the way of gadgets and gizmos to navigate a return visit to college hockey’s biggest party. All this group needed was a belief.

Though Harvard suffered a crushing 2-1 loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the semifinals on Thursday, its list of accomplishments was impressive. Harvard won the Beanpot for the first time since 1993. It won the Ivy League title. It won the Cleary Cup and Whitelaw Cup, respectively, as ECAC regular season and tournament champions.

The Crimson (28-6-2) posted a 15-game unbeaten streak (13-0-2) at Bright-Landry Hockey Center, the first undefeated at home season since that 1994 team went 10-0-3. It ran off an 18-game unbeaten streak (17-0-1). The 28 victories were the second-most for a Harvard team, trailing only the 1989 NCAA champions, who posted 31 wins.

Senior co-captain Alexander Kerfoot was a catalyst, drawing a spot in the list of Hobey Baker top 10 finalists. He ended a 121-game career with 123 points. Freshman defenseman Adam Fox was ECAC Rookie of the Year. Junior goalie Merrick Madsen was honored with back-to-back Most Outstanding Player recognitions at the ECAC tournament and NCAA East Regional. Sophomore winger and Bruins draft pick Ryan Donato of Scituate displayed his potential with 21 goals this season

All pretty heady stuff. Yet all those accolades masked the true winning fabric that beat inside the hearts of the seven seniors. After enduring a woeful 10-17-4 season as freshmen, this group produced a 68-30-9 mark over the last three seasons.

While the raw emotion of that heart-breaking defeat in the semifinals was evident on the faces of co-captains Alexander Kerfoot and Devin Tringale of Medford, few could argue that veteran coach Ted Donato displayed how fervently he had wanted to win for his seniors.

“Well, it’s very difficult to describe,” he said. “The love in the locker room, and this was such a special group. Up and down the lineup, you know, guys even that weren’t in uniform tonight. In general, you know, this senior group was just incredible from a leadership standpoint and from a character standpoint. It’s really tough to swallow right now because these guys have really given their all, all year, not only of themselves but to their teammates. And, I think, this will be an incredibly special group in my mind forever.”

Tringale put his disappointment aside for a moment to touch on that view.

“I think the program is in good hands,” he said. “The guys coming back are really competitive and hard-working group. I know they will take this loss and keep it with them all summer and train really hard and push the envelope even more next year. The program is on the upswing and it’s going to keep in that direction. So, I think the program is in good hands.

“It’s been an absolute honor to wear a Harvard jersey the past four years.”