Saturday's Harvard-Yale hockey game was somewhat reminiscent of the 1973 version of The Game.
It was not, however, the season finale for Harvard, nor did it cost the Crimson the Ivy League title. (At least not yet, anyway. Wednesday's showdown in Hanover with the Big Green will decide that.) And the disgruntled Harvard fans did not have to sit in the rain.
Saturday's game was played on frozen water instead of muddy turf, but the result was much the same as that of the football contest between the same two colleges last November.
In both cases a highly-touted and much-favored Crimson squad traveled to New Haven with visions of victory dancing in its head, only to be routed by the underdog Elis.
In Saturday's case it was Yale 6, Harvard 1 and the 150th meeting of the hockey rivals was never close after Yale scored its first goal.
The evening was one of contrasts between netminders. For Crimson goalie Jimmy Murray, the reigning Ivy player of the week for his stunning performance at Cornell, it was a nightmare. For a Yale junior from Sault St. Marie, Ontario, named Ken MacKenzie, it was a heap of votes for first team All-Ivy goaltender.
The night belonged to MacKenzie, who kept 39 out of 40 shots from entering Yale's net. It was only a Bob Goodenow slap shot at 13:31 of the final period with Harvard skating in its fifth minute of power play (Yale picked up three successive penalties, spaced just less than two minutes apart from each other) that prevented MacKenzie from getting the shutout.
MacKenzie had little chance of stopping that one, as it whizzed low and hard through a screen of tired Eli defenders. The overflow crowd in Ingall's Rink reacted by giving the netminder a standing ovation for several minutes, to make up for the shutout he really deserved.
For Jimmy Murray, on the other hand, it was an off night. And when it rains, it pours. It all started at 13:46 of the opening stanza when Gary Balzhiser intercepted a pass at the Harvard blue line and blasted it past Murray from 40 feet out.
Mike Flatters took Balzhiser's cue just 59 seconds later, firing from the point toward Murray. But this time the Crimson goalie was screened and Phil Clark tipped the puck into the net for a 2-0 lead. Clark picked up his second tally of the game at 17:01 with a shot from the face off that deflected off Murray's pads and trickled into the net.
Yale doubled its lead in the second period, as Bob Balzhiser (Gary's brother), Frank Paveck and captain Bob Kane scored during the middle eight minutes of the stanza. Kane's goal was the only Yale score on a power play, coming just nine seconds before Ted Thorndike was scheduled to leave the sin bin.
The third period saw only Goodenow's tally, as the scrappy Yale defense and MacKenzie held Harvard at bay. The Crimson icemen had 16 shots on the Eli goaltender and five minutes with a man advantage--but only found the handle once.
Harvard, however, was not in top health for the game, and the flu bug took its toll Saturday night. Kevin Burke missed the contest altogether and was replaced by Wiz Wyatt skating on the fourth line. Both Goodenow and Levy Byrd left the infirmary to play in the game and had plans to return there yesterday.
Kevin Carr, who will be out for up to two weeks with torn shoulder ligaments, was replaced by the return of big Dave Gauthier. Gauthier played left wing, with Jim McMahon centering and Steve Dagdigian on right.
Mark Noonan was also among the walking wounded with a shoulder that has been giving him problems.
The Elis took advantage of Harvard's slower pace and mistakes to fashion an upset ranking with their earlier season triumphs over Cornell and Boston University. It marked the first time Yale has beaten Harvard in hockey since Bobby Ufer blasted one past Harvard's Bruce Durno for a 3-2 overtime victory in 1969.