A lot of far-flung adjectives have been thrown around to describe the hockey rivalry between Harvard and Boston University. And judging by what you hear, you might think the series between the two teams has been pretty even the past few years. It hasn't.
When the Terriers and the Crimson face on for the 95th time, tonight at 9:15 p.m. (WMEX radio) in the ECAC semifinals in Boston Garden, history will favor the Dogs.
Since taking over as head coach five years ago, Bill Cleary has been unable to successfully curb Boston University. Cleary's overall.712 winning percentage disguises a 3-11-1 record against the boys from Comm. Ave.
B.U. is currently working on a five-game winning streak, in which the Terriers have outscored Harvard 38-15. The only close game was in this year's Beanpot tournament, which the Crimson lost by a goal, 6-5.
But this is the ECAC tournament, right? And everyone knows that you throw away the regular-season records for this one. So while we're at it, we might as well forget Harvard's 1-6 ECAC playoff slate against Boston University.
All of which sounds sort of pessimistic. It is. Harvard has a lot to prove tonight. Memories of the incredible 1974 Beanpot championship victory over the Terriers can be stretched only so far, the Crimson has not won a big one against B.U. since 1971, the year Harvard won its last ECAC championship.
"We're not pessimistic," goaltender Brian Petrovek contended yesterday. "Beating UNH (4-3 in the quarterfinals) gave us a lot of confidence, especially the defense."
Besides, Petro reasoned, "We're due."
The Terrier squad isn't thinking about ancient history either, only current events. "We're apprehensive," assistant coach Don "Toot" Cahoon said yesterday. "Harvard gave us a tough game in the Beanpot. They're the most improved team over the year."
Cahoon, who skated with the Terriers between 1969 and 1972, says his squad is preparing for this one as it would any big game. "You can't look at the records (B.U. is 22-2-0 in the ECAC) as last Tuesday's games proved. The bottom four could easily be in the Garden tonight."
Certainly not many expected seventh-seeded Harvard, with a 12-8-3 record, to upset second-ranked New Hampshire in front of a wild crowd in Durham, and make it to the Garden tonight.
"It came down to the fact that we outcoached them," Petrovek commented. "Tim Taylor did a perfect job scouting them and we knew exactly what they'd do in every situation. We executed our own plays perfectly."
Taylor won't need too much scouting for tonight's game, as the two teams know each other well enough already. The only question for the Terriers is whether head coach Jack Parker will start senior Pat Devlin or sophomore Brian Durocher in goal. He will decide that this morning.
Cleary will be going all the way with Petrovek, who played a brilliant game against UNH. And Petro won't be thinking back to the dark ages. "If we win (tonight), it's going to be awfully hard for them not to send us to Denver for the NCAAs."