Steve Andrews' 'Highs and Lows' of Varsity Hockey
Senior Reflects on Career
Senior Steve Andrews' Harvard hockey career ended Saturday night with the team's 6-5 loss to Yale. Andrews scored a goal and an assist. Andrews never was a star for Harvard and received no glorious accolades but from 1976-79 he played in 44 varsity games, scored five goals and 12 assists for 17 points, earned two Major-H letters, and garnered the respect of his coaches, teammates, and fans as a dedicated, hard-working, position player.
Andrews never played a full season with the varsity. Since his freshman year, Andrews has had to battle his teammates for a spot in the Crimson lineup.
Andrews played prep school hockey at Hotchkiss. A varsity player his junior and senior years, Andrews did not anticipate playing Division One Hockey. "I wanted to play hockey in college, I wanted to be involved in a program, but I thought I'd be lucky if I had a chance to play varsity my senior year. I wasn't recruited anywhere and when I came to Harvard neither Timmy Taylor (formerly J.V. coach at Harvard and now head coach at Yale) nor Billy Cleary knew I played hockey," Andrews said in an interview last week.
Andrews' Harvard career got off to an inauspicious start, as center on the third line of the 1975-76 freshman team. "I got a regular shif and improved a hell of a lot under Timmy Taylor," Andrews said.
Andrews' sophomore year marked the start of a steady but tenuous relationship with the varsity team. Andrews recalls. "I had a good camp, but I didn't think I had a prayer of making the varsity. I was content to play J.V. I guess Billy (Cleary) liked some of the things I did. I saw my name on the varsity roster the day he made the cuts. Jeez, I was high as a kite. I didn't touch the ground for a few days. It was the biggest surprise of my life. I ended up practicing with the varsity all year which was a great experience because everybody was better than me."
Steve played his first varsity game against Brown because of an injury to George Hughes took a regular shift in the last game of the 1977 season against Yale.
As a junior, Andrews suffered a poor tryout and was relegated to the J.V. squad. But captain Barney Cook's broken jaw opened a spot on the lineup and coach Cleary chose Andrews to fill the need for a center.
Andrews moved to the second line with wingers John Cochrane and Murray Dea. His first game was against UNH. "I had a horrendous game. It was at UNH too, and they go borneo up there. It was a shock for me to be playing at that level with that kind of emotion, and I didn't rise to the occasion. But, Cleary stuck with me," and Andrews played a regular shift for the rest of the 1978 campaign.
Inspired and optimistic for his senior year, the Andover, Mass. native encountered yet another surprise this past fall. Between the time coach Cleary made cuts in early November and the first game of the season at Dartmouth, Nov. 21, 1978, Andrews slipped from third line center to the fifth line. The fifth unit of the varsity plays in J.V. games, only practicing with the top squad.
"I was upset as I've ever been, because this was my senior year. I had a lot of confidence built up in myself after my junior season. I came back to school in great shape, had a great tryout and had visions of playing second or third line. When I found out I was cut it was tough," Andrews recalled.
Andrews stayed cool, hustled with the J.V., and was summoned for the Providence game, only the third contest of the season. He has played varsity ever since.
Hustle, defensive play, and fourth line status do not evoke much fame among the ranks of hockey greats. But Stevie Andrews can claim a place among the realms of Division One competition. He has sipped from the ambrosial cup of victory and has carried the burden of ignominious defeat. While most of us cheered, criticized and fantasized, Steve Andrews dripped with the sweat of participation.
Andrews possesses the experience of playing in two Beanpot Tournaments. He remembers the 1978 final versus B.U., his first encounter with the Terriors, and his first time on Boston Garden ice. "When I came out for warm-ups and looked around at 15,000 people, I was awed. I couldn't think. I didn't play well at all. I couldn't concentrate," he said.
When Andrews talks about his game, his utterances reveal modesty and some criticism. His self-analyses are candid: he said of his physical strength, "I'm probably one of the weakest kids out there, Experience shows that when I get hit I fall down or I lose the puck. That's a problem with my game."
Andrews feels that defensive play is his forte. "That's one thing I'm proud of, my defensive play. I don't have much talent as far as my stickhandling and shot go, but I excel in my defensive play and my position play." His zero rating in the plus-minus category for the season attest to his defensive proficiency.
As far as thrills go, Andrews points out his first game at Watson Rink, the Beanpot, and the ECAC T.V. Game of the Week against Brown in 1978 in which Andrews scored two goals and assisted on another in the 7-4 win. His goal and assist against Yale in his last game mark his best offensive performance for 1979.
Andrews summed up his Harvard hockey days aptly. "I can vividly remember being so discouraged and disappointed. And, I can remember scoring the goal against Brown and playing in the Beanpot which make everything worthwhile. So you've got these lows and you've got these highs. But, throughout I've felt proud to be in a Harvard uniform. It's a thrill to be out there and to play intercollegiate hockey, to represent Harvard and to have something to show my parents. I felt proud and I hope I made some other people proud too."