Hockey Team Opens Season Against Bowdoin
Faces Grueling Schedule
It would take more than eight reindeer to pull Santa Claus unscathed to Christmas through the Harvard hockey team's December schedule. Coach Cooney Weiland has got the strength, no doubt about it, to run with any team in the country; but breaking it in against every one of the equally improved Eastern powerhouses on foreign turf is enough to dim the glow of Rudolph's nose.
Bowdoin, however, is not one of these powers, and should not dampen anyone's optimism when it hosts the Crimson skaters for their '66-'67 debut tonight in Brunswick, Maine. Last year the Polar Bears were victimized at Harvard's Watson Rink in the most lopsided of the Crimson's ten wins, 9-2. So far this year, Bowdoin has been massacred by a similar margin in a scrimmage with Boston College, and the Maineman shape up as Harvard's only sure victory of the next month.
The schedule that follows would make a masochist chortle. The University of New Hampshire, Saturday's opponent, ranks low in pre-season predictions, but anything could happen against the rough, young U.N.H. squad in the woods of Durham.
The following weekend, the skaters fly to upstate New York to face Clarkson and St. Lawrence, two of the East's four top teams. It is not until December 14 that Harvard plays in its own rink -- against a Brown team that beat the Crimson twice last winter.
December 20, Harvard flies to New York again, this time to visit Cornell, probably the best team in the East and possibly the country. Christmas brings no vacation, as Harvard will face the fourth big power, Boston University, in the Terriers' home Arena.
Weiland admits that it would be nicer to break in his new team a little more slowly, and agrees that Harvard would be better equipped to tackle the big boys later in the season. "But it will provide a good indication of what kind of team we have right away," muses the Crimson mentor, fearing no one.
The holdover from last year alone are enough to ensure a very good year.
Back are Harvard's two second-team All-Ivy choices juniors Kent Parrot and Ben Smith. Parrot's 18 goals and 25 assists gave him the second highest sophomore scoring total in Harvard history. The exciting junior has been moved from center to wing, where his great speed should show to better advantage. The burly Smith, who earned his laurels as a defenseman last year, will center for Parrot's line.
Smith played some wing last season and contributed 19 assists over the season, second high for Harvard. He should top this mark easily, feeding Parrot on one flank and fast-skating Crimson captain Dennis McCullough on his left.
The second line will feature center Jack Garrity and left wing Bob Fredo, who both pitched in 11 goals as sophomores last year. Second high-scorer Pete Waldinger normally completes this line, but will miss tonight's game because of a sprained ankle that has not completely mended.
Bobby Bauer and George Murphy, who tallied 21 and 23 goals, respectively, for last year's 18-2 freshman team, join junior Tag Demment on the third line tonight. The sophomore are good, small skaters with great scoring ability, while junior Demment, a defenseman most of last year, has hatchet-man brawn and a potent slap shot.
With so much talent to choose from, Weiland will use sophomores Dwight Ware, Chip Otness, and Barry Johnson and senior Ed Zellner to alternate in the second and third lines and kill penalties. Also in the picture are senior veteran Eric Rosenberger, sophomore Pete Haley, and potential starter Pete Mueller, who is out of action with a bad shoulder for another two days.
Defense was Harvard's weak spot last year, but Weiland's shifting Smith and Demment to the line shows he has no worries. Bob Carr and Dennis Clark have shown steady improvement and provide size as well as skills Don Grimble, also a junior, has switched from wing and been very impressive in pre-season practice.
Senior Chip Seammon, senior Pres. Wolcott, junior Dannny Burnes, and sophomore Tom Micheletti (currently sidelined by tonsilitis) are battling for the fourth defense spot.
The Crimson is set in the goal with Bill Fitzsimmons, a two-year starter, and Bill Diercks, freshman sensation last winter. Fitzsimmons will start against Bowdoin, but Weiland will probably experiment with alternate goalies once the grueling season gets under way.
The competition for every position on the team should keep the Crimson skaters on edge all year, as if their murderous schedule won't. Weiland is optimistic about the team's chances, and the players are itching to get the season underway.
Eastern hockey will be enjoying its best year ever, and a good number of losses will inevitably come the Crimson's way. But on any given night, Harvard will be capable of beating the best. The only dark note present as the season gets under way is one that hurts the fans: only 9 of Harvard's 24 games will be played in Watson Rink.