There is little questioning the fact that the varsity hockey six is a better team than Yale. It has more speed, more depth, and a far higher scoring potential than the Elis could ever produce. What the Crimson has to do tonight is to prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt.
An ordinary victory over Yale will not be enough to convince Eli hockey coach John Murdock, who is a member of the NCAA selection board, that the Crimson should be one of the teams to go to Colorado next week. It is true that only Yale goalie Gerry Jones and a certain amount of pure luck kept last Saturday's score between the two teams down to 4-2, but to show that this score was not a true indication of the Crimson's ability, the varsity must trounce the Elis tonight.
There is, of course, the outside chance that Yale may win. The game will be played on the Eli's rink which is definitely to the Crimson's disadvantage as it is narrower and shorter than Watson. This will cut down the effectiveness of the varsity's superior speed as was the case when the Crimson played Williams earlier in the year.
The game will also be played before what promises to be an overflow partisan crowd as all the other Yale teams will be playing at Cambridge. However, Harvey Mell, the Eli's leading scorer, who suffered a broken nose in last Saturday's game, is expected to see limited action tonight which will deplete Yale's limited scoring potential to an even greater extent.
If Jones turns in the same type of performance as he did in the Garden, it could be a very unpleasant evening for the visitors. But, while no one can deny that he played an outstanding game Saturday night, it is true that several Crimson scoring attempts were thwarted because the varsity simply did not get the breaks. At least four shots hit the posts of the Yale goal and other times perfectly set up plays missed scoring by inches.
Besides Jones, the varsity's problems are relatively few. Paul Kelley, who sat out Wednesday's game against Princeton with an injured leg, should return to his position on the first line tonight. This will not only put the first line back to its normal strength, it will also allow Crimson Coach Cooney Weiland to put Dick Reilly back on the third line where he has been very effective lately.
The only real defensive problem the Crimson has is the matter of breakaways. In the varsity's last three games, its opponents have had several chances to score on solo rushes when Crimson defensemen have been caught out of position or in too far on the opposition's goal. Yale scored one of its goals in this manner last Saturday, and will doubtless play a sleeper tonight hoping for the same break.
Although the NCAA question was thrown completely into the air by St. Lawrence's victory over Clarkson on Wednesday night, one thing is eminently clear. The varsity, although in the end it may prove to be a vain effort, must come through with a very convincing victory tonight. If R.P.I., the Tri-State hockey champion, is selected, the question will then be, who is better: Clarkson, the Larries, or the varsity. This will be up to the selection committee and it is then up to the Crimson to convince them tonight.
Back in 1951, the Yale freshman hockey team defeated the Crimson freshmen by a score of 8 to 5, but in the five games between the two teams since then, the Elis have been consistently frustrated in their annual effort to repeat this accomplishment. They will get their latest chance this Saturday when the Yardlings travel to New Haven for their final game of the season.
The Crimson freshmen, who boast an eleven won, two lost record to date, should rate solid favorites over the Blue after their 10 to 2 rout of the Princeton freshmen at Watson Rink last Saturday.
Coach Nat Harris has developed two well-balanced forward lines--the first composed of Captain Bruce Gillie, Mike Graney, and George Herrick, and the second made up of Pete Rient, Dick Kalil, and Ken Woodworth.
Harold Morgan and Butch Walls (whose vicious slap-shot has made him one of the team's top scorers) start on defense, backed up by Mel Hodder and Bob Crosby. John Page will guard the Crimson nets.