The Boston Arena Christmas hockey tourney seems to be a fixture now, but for the first time in the past three years it will not be dominated by the upstate New York hockey powers, Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
This year it is a three-day elimination tournament, with four games each day from Dec. 27 to 29, two at the Watson Rink and two at the Arena. The teams entered are: Boston College, Boston University, Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Northeastern, Providence College, and West Point.
The Crimson meets Army at 4 p.m. at Watson next Thursday in the opening game and should move easily into the semi-finals at the Arena Friday night.
But if Army is perennially weak on the ice, the varsity's probable second opponent--B.U.--definitely will not be. The Terriers are loaded with Canadian talent this year and seem to be weak only in the goal.
Boston College seems certain to face either B.U. or the varsity in the tournament final at the Arena Saturday night. After losing to Brown at the start of the season, the Eagles roared back to crush Yale, 11 to 2, and beat the Bruins in a second meeting, 5 to 0. Starring the names that have plagued the Crimson for two years--Don Fox, Jim Tiernan, Dick Michaud, Dick Kane, and Paul Sheehy--B.C. is as good a sextet as New England offers.
Without Clarkson or St. Lawrence then, the tournament looms as a three-cornered battle between the local teams, B.C., B.U., and the Crimson. The Boston hockey writers seem to have discounted the varsity at the start of the season, but as Coach Cooney Weiland remarked before the 10-2 romp over Providence, "We're a different team."
There is no question that the Crimson can score: Bob Cleary and Lyle Guttu form an unbeatable combination, and the team has tallied 26 times in three games. The defense will be a problem for a while, since sophomores Maurice Balboni and Dick McLaughlin will make mistakes in learning; but Weiland's switch of Bob McVey and Bob Owen to the blue-line seems to have paid off handsomely.
At any rate, the Christmas Tournament will tell.