Tonight's opening hockey game against Northeastern at 8 p.m. is only the second game in the history of the Watson Rink. It will signify no more than that, for the early-season questions about the Crimson team, which begins the defense of its Eastern championship, probably will not be answered tonight.
Even if the six Crimson sophomores perform well in their first varsity game, and even if Coach Cooney Weiland is able to alternate three lines effectively throughout the contest--as he hopes to--these answers can hardly be final. For one thing, local hockey observers have reassessed their sophomore-development thinking after last season when Boston College's young team began rather well and then got progressively worse.
There is also the fact that Weiland's third line tonight will only be one of two or three possible groups. Lettermen Albie Wells and Derick Nicholas, for instance, are not even dressing for the game. Weiland plans to use Dick Allen, Tom Worthen, and Dave Holmes tonight and then try another combination against Boston University Friday.
Northeastern opened its season last Saturday with a 6-2 defeat by an apparently mediocre Yale team. The game was tied, 2 to 2, going into the third period, but according to Husky coach Jim Bell, "it just happened to be Yale's night to score." Five Northeastern sophomores were playing their first varsity game, and this may have contributed to the Eli victory.
Bell has a veteran first line consisting of Richie Cavanaugh, Fred Voderer and George Buckley. His goalie, Bill Lawn, gave a brilliant exhibition of goaltending in the only previous varsity game at Watson last year, and will make things rough for the Crimson if he is in form again.
Weiland plans to use a starting line of sophomores Bob Cleary and Lyle Guttu, and junior Terry O'Malley. He will also use two-year veteran Joe Crehore in several positions: as wing on a line with Bob McVey and Art Noyes, as center on the third line, and as a defenseman. Bob Owen will play wing on the second line in Crehore's absence