Thousands of strange and macabre events have been staged in the old Boston Arena over the years, so it was only appropriate that Harvard and Yale chose the crumbling ice rink on St. Botolph Street to play one of the most bizarre college hockey matches in recent history Saturday night.
First, let it be established that almost nothing of consequence was to be decided by the game in the first place. Yale was already mired in sixth place in the Ivy standings, and had long ago been eliminated from contention for an ECAC playoff berth. Harvard had already sewn up third seed in the playoffs three days earlier, regardless of the outcome of the Yale game, and had lost its chance for a share of the Ivy title when Cornell shut out Brown, 8-0, Saturday afternoon.
So it was a potentially volatile situation to begin with. Yale, smarting from five consecutive losses and a 5-1 defeat at Ingalls Rink a week earlier, had nothing to lose. Harvard, biding its time until the playoff game with Clarkson on Tuesday, could not afford a brawl.
Still, it was a clean, reasonably tightly played hockey game for the first period, even though the Crimson was badly outshooting Yale, as had been expected.
At 14:43, Crimson captain Tom Paul put a shot past Yale goalie Mark Fitzsimmons into the far side of the net, and Harvard left the ice with a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
But almost unaccountably, the quality of play began to degenerate at the beginning of the second period, and a repetition of the debacle at New Haven a week before seemed imminent.
Four Harvard men were penalized within the first 11 minutes, and the Eli took advantage of the shortage to pump in a quick goal at 2:24, and add a second at 10:10. Both were, to say the least, unusual. Yale wing Larry Bisaro poked in the first goal after it had apparently been tied up by Harvard goaltender Joe Bertagna out of a scramble in front of the Crimson net.
The second, also scored by Bisaro, was extremely strange. As Yale's Bob Kane raced down the left side of the ice to collect a long lead pass, Bertagna roamed far from the goal to clear the puck before Kane could reach it. But Kane got there first, and whipped a pass across to Bisaro, who blasted it past a group of Harvard men desperately trying to cover the net.
Crimson coach Bill Cleary immediately removed Bertagna from the game, replacing him with Steve Perry, and Harvard went on the offensive to try to regain the lead. At 13:54 Harvard's Bill Corkery slapped a rebound into the Eli net, and linemate Dave Hynes added another 55 seconds later on the power play to seemingly place the Crimson out of danger.
But Harvard's optimism was brief. Bulldog captain Roger Demment tied the game within 20 seconds of the ensuing faceoff, and sophomore Mike Walsh flipped in a fourth Yale goal with a minute and a half to play in the period, and the Eli skated off the ice with a completely unexpected 4-3 lead.
The third period was a travesty. There is no other word for it. For 15 minutes and 15 seconds, either Harvard or Yale skated shorthanded. Five high-stick penalties were called, including a five-minute major on Yale's Phil Clark for drawing blood. With 2:09 remaining, a scuffle developed that nearly emptied both benches. Only a handful of Eli skaters stayed out of it, and only three Harvard men--Bertagna, Paul and Larry Desmond--remained on the bench, despite Cleary's efforts to restrain his players and thereby avoid five-minute penalties and possible suspensions. It was a disappointing finish to what has normally been a sportsmanlike annual rivalry. In all, 105 penalties were called in the two games at New Haven and Boston.
Still, it was a good period for Harvard in terms of scoring. Bob McManama scored on the power play after 47 seconds of play to tie the game, and Bob Goodenow put Harvard ahead 52 seconds later with a blazing slap shot from the right side.
McManama tallied another on the power play at 9:09, and when Clark went off for drawing blood at 13:31, Harvard ran pool. Paul slapped in a rebound at 13:50 to increase the lead to 7-4, and Desmond added an eighth with 4:14 to play.