On the Bench

Beanpot Blues

Watching Harvard lose to B.U. in the Beanpot while my stomach grappled with a Garden hot dog had been rough during my first three years of frustrated jockdom at Harvard. But this year, I swore off dogs and Harvard was favored, so when I took the subway into Boston on Monday night, I nurtured renewed hope. However, the Terriers not only upset Harvard, they bombed it.

Harvard looked like a team that had been taking Chem 20 exams, not Boats, for the last three weeks. Last year Harvard looked pretty sick coming off exam break and dropping four in a row, but the Crimson has rarely played as haphazardly as it did on Monday night.

The lopsided 8-3 score is misleading -- Harvard outshot the Terriers 34-28 and hit the post twice. However, Harvard can't feel it deserved to win after giving up five goals while scoring none in the first 29 minutes of the game.

Harvard's defense was atrocious at times. Bobby Muse offered the Terriers their first score, losing the puck at his own blue line to B.U.'s high scoring Paul O'Neill, B.U.'s last goal was also a gift, as Harvard's defense stood around and watched the Terriers's Dave Wisener calmly set up and shoot from five feet.

With only 20 saves against eight goals, goalie Joe Bertagna contributed to the deluge, leaving rebounds sitting at his feet and showing as much of a glove as Marv Throneberry fielding a pop-up.

Harvard's forwards were constantly off-target with their passes. The Local Line, which was outscored by B.U.'s excellent first line 5-0 at full strength, kept dropping the puck to trailing B.U. back checkers. The Local Line also lacked its usual fast break punch, especially center Bob McManama, who played a very sluggish game. All of the Harvard lines had trouble penetrating the tight-checking B.U. defense for an open, close-in shot. B.U.'s goalie, Kevin Walsh, played very well, but I don't think he was really screened on a shot all night, as his defensemen regularly cleared out Harvard's forwards.

The power play looked potent at the end of the second period, cutting B.U.'s lead to 5-2 and giving Harvard some short-lived hope. But the power play didn't have much of a chance to produce during the rest of the game, because almost every time the Terriers picked up a penalty, Harvard would immediately oblige them with a penalty of its own.

Coming off a three week break against a team enraged by the ECAC ruling on Dick Decloe, Harvard had some legitimate excuses. And the Crimson is still the best team in the East. Unfortunately, the Decloe decision may haunt the Crimson again in the ECAC's. Because B.U. had to forfeit eleven games for using an ineligible player, the Terriers may be the last team chosen for the eight team ECAC play-offs. Since the eighth-place team plays the first-place team in the first round of the ECAC's, Harvard, if it stays on top, would have to beat. B.U. just to get to the semi-final round. Even in the more comfortable confines of Watson Rink, that would not be easy.