If last night is any indicator, the Russian hockey team won't have to worry much about the Americans at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, this February.
While the Russians plan to tune up against the National Hockey League, the United States Olympic hockey squad is playing the Ivy League. And last night a not-too-polished Harvard squad dumped the Olympians 5-2 before a sparse crowd in Boston Garden.
Coach Bob Johnson's Olympic defense could not handle Harvard's hot new line of freshmen George Hughes and Gene Purdy and junior Dave Bell, which accounted for four of the team's five goals. Bell tallied twice and assisted once, while Purdy had a goal and an assist and Hughes scored once and assisted on two goals.
And the Olympic offense could not beat Crimson goaltender Brian Petrovek more than twice, despite 34 shots during the game. Petrovek, who was cut from the Olympic team this summer, put in a very solid performance against the team that spurned his talents, holding fast against a furious Olympic rally in the final period that brought the score to 3-2.
Former Harvardian Dan Bolduc, who was the top penalty-getter in the game with four, brought the Olympic squad within one in the first period, after Bell and captain Kevin Carr had scored for Harvard. But the weary Olympians, playing their third game in four days (they play Dartmouth tonight, too) never caught up.
Bell scored for the Crimson at 5:35 of the first period after a perfect pass across from former Malden-Catholic star (via Choate) Hughes. Harvard jumped to a 2-0 lead with Bolduc in the penalty box at 9:44, as Carr tipped a slap shot from defenseman Kevin O'Donaghue past Olympic netminder Jim Warden.
After Bolduc's score at 12:24, Purdy made it 3-1 three minutes later, thanks to a strong individual effort from Kevin Burke who stick-handled over the blue line and passed for the assist.
Following a scoreless second period in which Harvard was outshot 12-6, Bob Miller (from UNH) started the fruitless Olympic rally with a goal at 5:21 of the final period. The Olympians kept the pressure up for another seven minutes during which time they scored a goal after the whistle which was disallowed, hit the post, and let Petrovek rob them twice. It looked like the game was destined to be tied.
But with both teams short-handed, Bell took the pressure off Harvard with a score at 8:27 on a pass from Hughes and a shot that skipped over Warden's stick. Hughes tallied the final one with less than a minute to play after Bell dug the puck out from behind the Olympic net, through the official scorer gave the goal to Bell.
For the Olympic squad, it was a night they would probably like to forget, especially with the Olympic games just three months away.