The Harvard hockey team's loss to B.C. Wednesday has hung a do-or-die atmosphere on tomorrow night's game with Northeastern at Watson Rink.
If the Crimson had beaten that Eagles, then it would be expected to polish off the Huskies and settle securely behind B.U. and Cornell in the Eastern rankings. But Harvard's position is very unclear at the moment, and a loss to N.U. would severely hurt its chances to be among the top four and open the ECAC year-end tournament on its home ice.
Northeastern gave the Crimson quite a battle in the team's first meeting at the Boston Arena Christmas Tournament. Jimmy Bell's skaters led, 4-1, before finally succumbing in overtime, 5-4.
Since then, they have upset B.C., 4-2, and downed potentially dangerous Colgate, 5-2. Their 3-7 season record is unimpressive, but puts them in a position where they can afford no more losses if they are to reach the ECAC's.
The Huskies boast two good goalies. Senior Gary Thornton, a glove man, is one of the smoothest netminders around, and when he's on, he's the best. Thornton was brilliant in the B.C. upset and will probably start tomorrow night.
Behind Thornton is sophomore Ken Leu, who played well in the first game with the Crimson. Leu, brother of N.U. captain Jim, specializes in flamboyant kick saves.
To get to the goalies, however, the Crimson players will have to penetrate Northeastern's top-notch defensemen, Don Turcotte and Ron Jeanneault. Turcotte, the Huskies best performer, was named to the All-Tournament team over Christmas, his latest in a long string of honors.
Pacing the N.U. attack are Leu, Phil O'Connell, Dean McGranahan, and Ed McCarty. They are an erratic bunch that can pass and check like champions one night, and look like bums the next.
Harvard beat Northeastern twice last year, 3-1 at the Arena, and 5-1 in the Beanpot semi-final.
Bobby Bauer will be missing from the lineup for Harvard. The sophomore center was hit in the left eye with an errant B.C. stick last Wednesday, and suffered a contusion of the cornea as well as a cut and swelling. While the injury is not serious, Bauer may skip the Dartmouth game, too, to make sure everything is healed before he goes into action again in February.
Tickets for the Northeastern game may be obtained by exchanging coupon #17 at 60 Boylston St. before 5 p.m. today.