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Men's Hockey Skates to Scoreless Tie at RPI

Harvard co-captain Jimmy Vesey.

UPDATED: December 6, 2015, at 6:45 p.m.

TROY, N.Y.—In a rematch of last Sunday’s bout at Notre Dame, the No. 8/8 Harvard men’s hockey team (6-1-3, 4-1-3 ECAC) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (8-6-3, 4-1-3) finished the game in a scoreless tie despite an offensive onslaught from the Crimson.

Sophomore goaltender Merrick Madsen made 32 saves for his fourth shutout in seven starts while RPI keeper Jason Kasdorf turned in the performance of the night with 43 stops of his own.

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After yielding four goals in a tie with Union on Friday, Madsen resumed building upon his otherworldly early season numbers. The 6-foot-5 California native entered the season without a single career NCAA start but now leads all Division I goaltenders in goals against average (0.98) and save percentage (.966).

“This is a little bit of a learning curve for Merrick,” Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 said. “He looked very calm and composed tonight and gave us a lot of confidence on the bench.”

Madsen, by all accounts, has been unfazed by his stats and was quick to praise his defensemen.

“Those guys have been so supportive time and time again,” Madsen said. “Everything that I have given up up front, they’ve been the first ones on it and getting it out of the zone.”

Despite a 54-second five-on-three opportunity for RPI late in the first period, Madsen’s toughest challenge would come in the third period, in which the Engineers outshot Harvard, 16-8. For most of the game, the ice tilted in the other direction, as the Crimson pinned the hosts in their own zone early to capture a 33-12 advantage in shots through two periods.

Kasdorf turned away a breakaway opportunity by freshman Ryan Donato early in the first period and remained uncrackable. Through nine starts, the senior sits just 10 spots below Madsen in the national save percentage rankings with a .937 success rate.

Crimson co-captain Jimmy Vesey came the closest to beating Kasdorf with a shot off the crossbar late in the third period.

Harvard finished the night 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and 0-for-2 on the power play. Following the game, Ted Donato hinted that his team could have used more opportunities on the man advantage and alluded to his frustrations with the night’s officiating.

“In this game, it is tough to score just five-on-five,” Donato said. “I know we all have great goaltenders, but if you’re asking me, it’s not healthy to have so many zero-zero games.”

Harvard skated Saturday without the services of junior center Alex Kerfoot, who left Friday’s game late in the third period with an upper body injury. Junior Tyler Moy took his place on the first line. Senior forward Colin Blackwell missed his sixth straight game.

The team will have four weeks to recuperate over the exam period and holiday break. The Crimson will return to play Jan. 1 in Minneapolis, Minn. to face Ferris State in the first round of the 29th University of Minnesota Mariucci Classic.

—Staff writer William C. Skinner can be reached at william.skinner@thecrimson.com.

This story has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: December 6, 2015

A previous version of this story misstated the date men's hockey returns to action. It is Jan. 1, 2016 against Ferris State.

A previous version of this story misstated a quote from Harvard head coach Ted Donato '91. Donato said, “I know we all have great goaltenders, but if you’re asking me, it’s not healthy to have so many zero-zero games.”

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