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College hockey notebook

At Harvard, this has been a tying time

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / February 3, 2012
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During Monday’s Beanpot luncheon at TD Garden, Harvard captain Ryan Grimshaw revived the old line about ties being as exciting as kissing your sister.

Through 21 games, the Crimson have nine deadlocks (6-6-9, 5-4-7 ECAC) as they head into tonight’s contest at Quinnipiac, their last game before Monday’s first-round matchup in the Beanpot against Boston University.

With eight games remaining, Harvard is one shy of the college hockey record for ties in a season shared by three teams (Minnesota State 2002-03, Colorado College 2008-09, and Western Michigan in 2010-11). The most ties Harvard had in a season prior to this was six.

As much as that number might be frustrating to look at, the Crimson don’t view it as a negative. Harvard has played 11 games on the road, and after tonight, it will have two more on the road, three at home, and two neutral-site games (the Beanpot).

“We’re all over the map, but I like our team,’’ said coach Ted Donato, who is in his eighth season. “A lot of our ties have been, I would say, more good ties than bad ties. Most of them have been comebacks, and I feel like we’re improving as the year has gone on.

“We’ve gotten some ties on the road against good opponents. The truth of it is, our season is very much in the balance going forward.’’

Seven of the nine ties have come away from Bright Center. Getting points in that many games, despite not winning, has the Crimson in a tie for third place in the ECAC. They are hoping Quinnipiac will be a little rusty, given that it has been 20 days since its last game.

“The ties basically keep you at the even mark for a long time,’’ said Donato. “We feel we’re playing our best hockey now. We’re starting to get some guys back healthy. We’ve got some home games coming up.

“We feel like the pieces are coming together. Obviously, there is a lot of hard work to be done but we feel good about ourselves as a team right now.’’

In the preseason ECAC coaches poll, Harvard was picked to finish seventh. The media poll had the Crimson all the way at the bottom, at No. 12. Donato believed his team was much better than that, and he was sure that would be proven over the course of the season.

Harvard has been lying in the weeds a bit, but it is in pretty good shape, particularly if it can carve out some victories down the stretch and make a splash in the Beanpot.

“I really like the group,’’ said Donato. “I think our character has really shown through a bunch of the comebacks that we’ve made this season. I think we’ve made more this year than probably the last three years combined.

“We’re a real resilient group and a real tight-knit group. I’d like to think that will play a big part in our success at the end of the season.’’

Parker apologizes after outburst

Boston University coach Jack Parker lost his temper last Saturday night at the end of a 3-1 loss to Maine at Agganis Arena. After Matt Mangene’s empty-net goal sealed the win, BU was assessed a two-minute bench minor and a game misconduct at 19:55. Parker, who is as intense as they come but also respectful, issued a statement Wednesday night that read, “I’d like to apologize to the fans at the rink and the CBS Sports Network audience for my verbal abuse of the referee at the end of Saturday’s game against the University of Maine. It doesn’t matter what the substance was, the form was incorrect.’’ . . . Northeastern has been riding a roller coaster this season. The Huskies go into tonight’s matchup against UMass at Matthews Arena after a two-game sweep at Vermont last weekend. Those victories followed a four-game losing streak, which came after an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1).

Resurgent River Hawks are hot

Vermont will have its hands full when it travels to No. 9 UMass-Lowell for a pair of games beginning tonight. The Catamounts are 2-0-1 in their last three meetings against the River Hawks. But UMass-Lowell is having a resurgent season. It is in fifth place in Hockey East (11-6-0) and is 16-7-0 overall. The 16 wins under first-year coach Norm Bazin are more than three times as many as the River Hawks had a year ago when they finished out of the playoffs at 5-25-4. UMass-Lowell has won four of five games and seven of the last nine.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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