ASNetminding: Decision to finish Harvard education didn’t derail Jimmy Vesey’s hockey career


Jimmy Vesey returned for his senior season at Harvard and — gasp! — the NHL is still there for him to join when the Crimson wrap up their season.

The moral of the story is brought to you by Vesey himself in a first-person story for The Players Tribune.

The 6-3, 203-pound, third-round pick of the Nashville Predators explains why he delayed his dream of playing in the NHL and returned for his senior season at Harvard and the reaction his decision created.

Vesey tweeted his story last week. An excerpt:

So I’m sitting there, 18 years old, nervously sweating in my suit, and some guy sitting at the table pipes up.

“Oh, so you’re going to Harvard. Do you want to be a student or a hockey player?”

I was completely taken aback. I’m pretty sure that I botched the rest of the interview because I was so rattled by that question. I probably should’ve brushed it off, but in that type of situation you start second-guessing yourself.

Is Harvard actually the right fit? Is it going to hurt my hockey career?

The timing of Vesey’s piece couldn’t be better. Several exceptional underclassmen will face the same decision with the season nearing an end.

Last season may have been the toughest choice for Vesey because he was named the ECAC Hockey and Ivy League Player of the Year, was East CCM First-Team All-America and led the nation with 32 goals.

On paper, he was ready.

In his heart and mind, he wasn’t.

So he stayed.

As Vesey writes, for him it was also about filling holes in his game so he could become a better end-to-end player.

Consider it essential reading for any player asking the multi-million-dollar question: “Should I stay or should I go?”

PairWise movement

nchc-northdakotaQuinnipiac remains on top of the PairWise rankings, but North Dakota’s sweep on the road at Omaha lifted UND into the No. 2 spot followed by St. Cloud State, which was was swept by Minnesota Duluth, and Providence, which swept UMass.

If the NCAAs started today, Boston College at No. 5 would not get a No. 1 seed.

The real fun comes from the 13th to 21st-ranked teams.

Nebraska Omaha, riding a four-game losing streak — all at home — is 18-13-1 and finishes the NCHC regular season at Denver, which is 19-8-5 and tied for seventh.

Penn State and Duluth are tied for 14th, Minnesota and Michigan Tech (the highest-ranked WCHA team) are tied for 16th, Miami is 18th and Robert Morris (highest ranked AHC team), Cornell and Minnesota State are tied for 19th with Northeastern, Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Rensselaer, Bowling Green and Dartmouth rounding out the top 25.

The conference tournaments will have the final say in the rankings, but plenty of teams are on the bubble.

Richter nominees announced

Mike_Richter_Award_logoLast week, the 26 nominees for the Mike Richter Award were announced by Let’s Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation.

The award honors the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men’s hockey with the winner announced at the Frozen Four April 7-9 in Tampa, Fla.

Heading the list of candidates is Boston College’s Thatcher Demko, who leads the country with nine shutouts, a 1.75 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and a 22-4-4 record.

He also leads the fan voting for the Hobey Baker Award with 12,341 votes, 15.9% of all cast.

There are several strong Richter candidates this season, including Kevin Boyle of UMass Lowell (6 shutouts, 1.87 GAA), Nick Ellis of Providence (21-5-4, .930 save percentage), Michael Garteig of Quinnipiac (23-2-7, seven shutouts, 1.85 GAA), Cam Johnson of North Dakota (15-3-1, five shutouts, .940 save percentage, 1.54 GAA), Alex Lyon of Yale (18-4-4,1.51, .941 four shutouts), and Mitch Gillam of Cornell (1.94, .933).

The 26 candidates have a combined 2.15 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage, as well as a 3.15 grade-point average in the classroom.

Zane McIntyre of North Dakota won it last year and UMass Lowell’s Connor Hellebuyck in 2014.

According to the site, there are 19 Americans, six Canadians and 1 Finn among the nominees. Twelve states and five Canadian provinces are represented amongst seven seniors, seven juniors, eight sophomores and four freshmen.

Repeat coming for the Patty?

Patty-Kazmaier-Award-logoBoston College is on the verge of a historic unbeaten season, and the nation’s leading scorer Alex Carpenter could make it a season for the ages.

The senior forward is one of the top three finalists announced Thursday for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award that goes to the top female player in women’s college hockey, an honor she received last season.

The winner will be announced March 19 as part of the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four weekend.

If she wins again she will be the first player to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons and only the second to win it twice. To do so she’ll have to beat scoring rival and Olympic teammate Kelly Coyne of Northeastern, also a senior.

Junior goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens of Wisconsin is the third finalist.

Winning the ECAC — with authority

ecac-quinnipiacNo. 1 Quinnipiac started the season hot and underrated and ended the ECAC regular season with an exclamation point.

From a 17-game unbeaten streak to start the year to Saturday’s 4-1 win over ECAC No. 2 Yale, the Bobcats have been resilient and nearly unbeatable at 25-2-7. They’re 4-1-7 in overtimes and they’ve sent games into overtime four times by pulling their goalie for an extra attacker.

Cardiac kids, but with a big heart. The last time an ECAC team dropped just one game, in 1993, Maine went on to win the national title.

Not bad for a team ranked 18th in the preseason poll.

The Quinnipiac women followed the men’s script of last-minute comebacks and rallies this season to advance as the ECAC’s No. 1 seed in its conference tournament.

It wasn’t easy. The Bobcats needed some heroics from Nicole Brown in the second overtime to defeat Rensselaer 2-1 and reach the semifinals this weekend. Quinnipiac trailed before winning Friday’s series opener, too.

The win gives first-year Quinnipiac coach Cassandara Turner her 28th win, an NCAA record for most wins by a first-year head coach in women’s hockey. The Bobcats are 28-2-5.

Gophers rely on Fasching sense

bigten-minnesotaAfter giving up the Big Ten lead on Thursday night with a 6-2 loss to Michigan, Minnesota regained a one-point lead Friday when Hudson Fasching fired a one-timer from the point in overtime for a 3-2 win.

The win keeps the Gophers (17-14-0, 12-4-0 Big Ten) on the Pairwise bubble at No. 16 with two weeks remaining.

Next up is Michigan State on the road. More of Fasching’s brilliance may be needed. He leads Minnesota with 19 goals and 15 assists.

The Gophers finish the regular season at home against Wisconsin, so running the table is a distinct possibility.

Michigan’s defensive downfall

bigten-michiganMichigan, now trailing by a point, has lost just twice since Jan. 1 but finishes with Ohio State and high-scoring Penn State.

The Wolverines have been the top-ranked offensive team nearly all season, averaging 4.65 goals per game. Freshman Kyle Connor leads the nation in scoring with 26 goals and 28 assists and linemates JT Compher (11 goals, 36 assists to lead the nation) and Tyler Motte (29 goals to lead the nation and 17 assists) rank fourth and sixth in scoring, respectively.

Michigan’s downfall is defense.

Though it has tightened since the start of the new year, the defense still gives up 2.93 goals per game and ranks 36th out of 60 D-I teams.

In two weeks, when Penn State and Michigan hookup, it will be the No. 1 vs. No. 4 offenses vs. the No. 36 and No. 37 defenses.

Fit to be tied

hockeyeast-bostoncollegeBoston College and Providence tied for the Hockey East title to earn first-round byes.

The banged-up Eagles still earned the No. 1 seed over the defending national champions based on goal differential. Their 15-game unbeaten streak was snapped by UMass Lowell last weekend, which is less of a concern than getting freshman Collin White back from injury.

He is expected back when BC returns to the ice in two weeks.

Above: Jimmy Vesey decided finishing his Harvard education would not hurt his hockey career. (Courtesy Gil Talbot Photography)

Dave Dondoneau

Dave Dondoneau is a freelance writer based in Honolulu. Follow him on Twitter @DakotaHI.