Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Harvard Defenseman David MacDonald

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, November 13 at 2:00 p.m. ET, Harvard defenseman and team co-captain David MacDonald enters the chatroom at "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The Crimson face ECAC Hockey and Ivy League rival Cornell on Friday, November 16th.

David MacDonald

For only the fourth time in over a century of Harvard Hockey, the Crimson has a pair of co-captains, as David MacDonald and Mike Taylor are Harvard's first co-captains since the 1979-80 season.

MacDonald entered his senior season having played in 81 games for the Crimson, with seven points, all assists, as a strong stay-at-home defenseman. Before Harvard, he graduated from St. Paul's School (NH) and played a year with the New England Junior Coyotes of the EJHL. In his season with the Coyotes, MacDonald was named the team's Most Improved Player.

A native of Halifax, N.S., MacDonald was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round (225th pick overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. MacDonald is concentrating in economics at Harvard, and is a two-time ECAC Hockey All-Academic selection.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: David won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 13th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Hello, and welcome back to "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV and USCHO. We're joined now by Harvard's David MacDonald.
David MacDonald: Thanks for having me this afternoon. I'm looking forward to answering your questions.

Joe (Boston): Dave, Attended both games this past weekend. What impressed me was that even though it's safe to say that Harvard didn't have its A game either night, the team emerged with two shutouts. What is different this year than last, and what will you be working on this week as you prepare for Cornell & Colgate? Best of luck this season!!
David MacDonald: First of all, even when you're playing well, there's going to be periods of time when you get outplayed. The important thing is to be able to have strong enough confidence in your team defense and goaltending to withstand any pressure they have. This past weekend, there were a number of times when we were spending a lot of time in our own zone. Kyle Richter's been playing fantastic. We were able to block a lot of shots and keep them to the perimeter of the offensive zone. At the end of the day, we want to be able to win hockey games. We lost a lot of one-goal games last year, where if we were able to withstand some of the opponent's pressure, we would have been able to turn a lot of close losses into wins. This year, we want to make sure to get back to a strong team defense, as we've shown thus far. Being able to find a way to win hockey games is something that we struggled with last year, relative to years before, and we want to bring that back.
David MacDonald: We're going to continue to work on special teams. We've had success on both the power play and penalty so far. In today's game, where they're calling it pretty tight, it's important that we keep practicing our special teams. Traditionally, Cornell plays very well in their own zone, and they have a lot of strong players up front, so we're going to have to have strong poisitioning in the defensive zone as well as an ability to capitalize on any chances we have, whether it's on the power play or 5-on-5 offensively. In terms of preparation, we're going to prepare like it's any other game. Consistency is one of our key focuses this year, so I don't think we're going to change much in terms of preparation.

red (ri): do you worry about a let down saturday after the rival game on friday?
David MacDonald: As I said in the previous question, we're focusing on consistency this year, so we will prepare for every game the same. Obviously, the Cornell rivalry adds to the excitement of Friday night's game, but at the end of the day, each game is an opportunity for us to get two points, and last year, we realized how important all games are, because it's important that we're sitting strong at the end of the year in the league standings.

Scott (New York): How pronounced is the "Lynah East" effect at the Bright Center, and does the team try to do anything on campus to bring in more Harvard fans.
David MacDonald: It's definitely true that there are a lot of Cornell fans that come to the game at Harvard, and they have some of the best fans in the league. We try to hype up the game as much as possible. The last two years, I thought we had a great showing as far as fans at the Cornell home game. This year, with the Harvard-Yale football game in New Haven, it might hurt our fanbase, but it's always fun to play in a hostile environment, whether it's at Lynah or at the Bright Hockey Center.

Curtis (Cambridge): Is it easier or harder to have the Cornell game first on the schedule for the weekend as opposed to second? Is there ever a danger of looking past a Friday Colgate game for a Saturday Cornell game?
David MacDonald: To tell you the truth, I've never worried about whether we're playing Cornell first or second on a given weekend. In past years, both Cornell and Colgate have been very tough opponents. As players, we're just as excited about each game, so it's fairly insignificant which opponent we play first.

Ed (Boston): Is a game like this easier or tougher to play early in the season when neither team has really gotten far into the season?
David MacDonald: For a returning player, it doesn't really matter when the game happens. We've experienced the rivalry for the last three years, and the rivalry's been going on long before any of us got here. It's not a secret to the freshmen, either. My first season at Harvard, we played them early in the season at Lynah, and talking to the upperclassmen, it was very clear to me how strong the competitveness between the two programs is, so it doesn't matter whether you play them early in the year or later in the year. The rivalry is just as strong either way.

Andy (Ann Arbor): Hi David, congrats on a good weekend. How has your practices, game preparation and execution differed this season with Coach Foley now on the staff?
David MacDonald: Thanks for the congratulations. Things have been going very well this year. Coach Foley's expertise is fairly technical in terms of attention to detail and positiong. He's also taken the reins of the penalty kill, which has done well so far this season. He also brings in some other components, including team culture, which is a new initiative on the team. From an athlete's perspective, in a given season, any team will go through adversity, and perhaps the most important component in facing obstacles is having a strong team culture. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of team culture, it's important to have every member of the team, whether they're on the first line, or maybe even not in the lineup, working toward the same goal. That type of team mentality isn't something that a team can just turn on, so we've been preparing thoughout the offseason, and in the last two months with coaches, to build a team culture, and it's been an important part of our team so far.

Jack (Framingham): Dave, Though I realize it is very early, of the incoming freshman, do you think any one of them has the chance to be really special when all is said and done?
David MacDonald: We've had a number of freshmen in the lineup in our first four games. All have performed well, and it's difficult at this point in the season to single out any freshman. As a defenseman myself, Chris Huxley is the only freshman defenseman, but he has played very well this year. He scored his first goal on Saturday, and I'm excited to see how he, along with the rest of the freshman class, will develop.

Matt (Boston): It looks like the team's defense has been stronger so far this season. What would you say the biggest difference is?
David MacDonald: I think attention to detail is probably one of the biggest things. I think we're also more experienced back there. We only have one freshman on the blueline this year, which means five of our six defensemen have played collegiate hockey before, and are comfortable with our team defensive systems. In my first two years, our major strength was our ability to play defense, and that goes from goaltending through the forwards in the defensive zone. I'm extremely proud with how we've played defensively so far this year. Friday and Saturday marked Harvard Hockey's first shutouts on back-to-back nights since 1982, which is a testament to Kyle Richter playing very well, along with the rest of the team.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all we have with David this afternoon.
David MacDonald: Thanks again for having me this afternoon. I enjoyed answering your questions, and I hope you keep following Harvard Hockey for the rest of the season.
CSTV.com Moderator: That'll do it for another week of "Tuesday @ the Rink" on CSTV.com, presented by CSTV and USCHO. Keep checking back for info on next week's guests, and be sure to check out CSTV.com's new "Power Plays" blog at http://slog.cstv.com/powerplay for updates from this weekend's Harvard-Cornell and Harvard-Colgate games, plus much more. Thanks, and have a great week!