Rangers college prospects back with a close look at Zakary Karpa

Zakary Karpa Harvard
Zakary Karpa leads handshake line for Harvard (photo by Alan Selavka)

As 2023 came to a close, several NCAA teams returned from the holiday break to continue their respective seasons which included many New York Rangers prospects.

On Sunday, December 31st, Rangers 2022 6th Round Pick Zakary Karpa led the Harvard Crimson into the newly opened Toscano Family Ice Forum in Storrs, Connecticut to face the UConn Huskies. The New Year’s Eve showdown received national coverage on ESPNU and ESPN+ with the game being called by none other than John Buccigross and Andrew Raycroft.

For myself personally, this was the third time in 2023 witnessing Karpa and the Harvard Crimson live, having previously been in the crowd March 24th against Ohio State in the NCAA Regionals in Bridgeport, Connecticut and January 20th at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.

Related: Gabe Perreault scores twice for US at WJC

Scouting Rangers prospect Zakary Karpa

Zakary Karpa
Zakary Karpa in action for Harvard (photo by Alan Selavka)

The New York Rangers prospect was listed as the center on the first line for the visitors, serving as captain. Looking over the lineup chart for Harvard, their legacy is evident as the current roster features several players whose fathers played in the NHL (Zakary Karpa, Marek and David Hejduk, and Mason Langenbrunner). UConn was playing without star forward Matthew Wood, who was representing Canada in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships.

The Huskies wasted little time setting the tone as they needed just forty seconds to take the lead when Jake Richard redirected a shot from Tom Messineo. The hosts dominated the majority of the first period, holding an 18-5 shots on goal advantage when the horn sounded, but Crimson goaltender Aku Koskenvuo kept it a one goal game.

Harvard would even the score early in the second when Joe Miller scored on the power play after Joey Muldowney was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. UConn would strike back though a few minutes later when Jake Black deflected a Messineo shot into the net. At the 8:32 mark, Jake Percival completed the “Jake” hat trick when he tapped in the puck following a cross-ice pass from Andrew Lucas. The second period would end with the score 3-1 and UConn holding a 31-12 shot advantage.

In the third period, Karpa led a nice rush up the right side before finding a teammate, but goaltender Ethan Haider made the save with 14:36 to play. It was Harvard’s best chance 5v5 to that point of the game. UConn would kill a slashing penalty by Ryan Tattle at 6:25, but were unable to convert on a 2 on 1 opportunity. Zakary Karpa collected the puck after Jack Pascucci fanned on a pass from the point then scored on the breakaway to pull within one with 10:14 remaining in the period.

The Harvard captain would be out on the first penalty killing unit when Tommy Lyons was assessed a slashing minor at 11:49 which the visitors successfully killed off. After both teams used their timeouts with 27.7 seconds on the clock, Chase Bradley stole the puck in the defensive zone and fired the empty netter to seal a 4-2 win for Connecticut.

Zakary Karpa would finish the game with one goal for one point with one shot while having won nine of twenty faceoffs. One thing which stood out to me during the course of the game was his ability to stall for time following an icing. These delay tactics gave his teammates a few extra seconds to catch their breath while having to stay out on the ice after a long shift. It may not matter much, but these are the little intangibles which set players apart, especially at the higher levels. For his efforts, Karpa was named as the number three star of the game.

The junior center has two goals through ten games played this season. On a positive note, his prowess at the faceoff dot jumps out as he currently has a record of ninety seven wins and ninety two losses (.513). I would expect Karpa to remain in school for his senior year next season. He also missed significant time his sophomore year due to injury, appearing in only twenty two games during the 2022-2023 season. Watching him play, his hockey sense and IQ are on display, as he is frequently in the right spot and rarely caught out of position. His leadership and character are evident as it was his teammates who voted Karpa captain at the end of his sophomore campaign. Karpa also possesses decent size, listed at 6’2″ and 190 lbs.

Harvard will face Arizona State University Sun Devils on Friday, January 5th in the Desert Hockey Classic. Harvard has had a rough start to the 2023-2024 season, sitting with a record of only 1-7-3 as the team has struggled to replace several key contributors from last season who graduated to the professional ranks.

New York Rangers college prospects

In other Hockey East action, the Providence College Friars were victorious against city rivals Brown University in the “Mayors Cup”, winning 3-0 Saturday. Unfortunately, New York Rangers 2021 5th Round Pick Jaroslav Chmelar was not in the lineup as he was serving a one game suspension for receiving a misconduct back on December 9th. Furthermore, it is being reported by Mark Divver that the Czech native will miss at least six weeks due to wrist surgery after suffering a torn tendon from a skate cut during a game on November 18th versus UMass. The sophomore forward had five goals and nine assists for fourteen points in sixteen games played. Hopefully he will be able to return in time for the Hockey East playoffs and possible NCAA tournament should the Friars qualify.

Elsewhere in Hockey East, the Merrimack College Warriors came away with two wins over the weekend, defeating Brown by a score of 5-1 on Friday night before earning a 3-2 victory over Stonehill College on Sunday afternoon. Interestingly, New York Rangers 2020 7th Round Pick Hugo Ollas served as the backup in each game despite the Warriors typically utilizing a tandem to split goaltending duties. The junior netminder has been inconsistent this season with a record of 3-6 and a 2.91 goals against average to go along with a .904 save percentage. Head Coach Scott Borek also elected to stick with Borgiel in Tuesday night’s contest against Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts to begin the new year. Hopefully the Swedish goaltender will return to game action when the Warriors face UMass on January 12th and 13th.

The New York Rangers other two prospects who play in Hockey East, Gabe Perreault and Drew Fortescue of Boston College, represented Team USA in a 10-2 victory over fellow New York Ranger prospect Adam Sykora and Slovakia to conclude group play on Sunday. Fortescue was credited with an assist on the Americans fifth goal of the game, his fourth point of the tournament. USA finished in first place of Group B with the win while Slovakia finished second in group play. Despite a goal from the Hartford Wolf Pack forward in the final seconds of the first period, Slovakia’s tournament ended with a 4-3 overtime loss to Finland in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. As for the Americans, they moved past Latvia in the quarterfinals with a 7-2 victory where both Fortescue and Perreault scored, and Perreault was named player of the game. A semifinal date against Finland is scheduled for January 4th.

Noah Laba scored twice for the Colorado College Tigers on Friday in an exhibition match against ACHA opponent Minot State.

The Tigers will resume their regular season on Sunday, January 7th when they travel to face Brody Lamb and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. As for Lamb, he recorded four shots on goal in a New Year’s Day exhibition against the United States National Team Development Program U-18’s.

Cornell defenseman Hank Kempf earned his third assist of the season on Saturday against Arizona State during a 2-2 tie. The Big Red would lose the shootout in the championship game of the Adirondack Winter Invitational. It was good to see the junior return to the top defensive pair. Cornell will look to avenge the loss in a rematch at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Friday, January 12th.