PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Sudden death. Think about that for a minute, One little defensive lapse, one little missed check, one little bobble of the puck, one sneaky little wrist shot and--BANG!--it's all over. Sudden death. One of the most agonizing moments in sports.
Providence College, the defending ECAC champions, died a sudden and rather unexpected death here last night, gunned down by Harvard's Scott Powers at 7:38 of overtime.
And the Friars death was not only sudden, it was very much a surprise, for they had jumped out to a 5-4 lead with a little less than four minutes to go in the game. For Harvard, it looked like it would be the same story for the second game in a row, after the 5-4 loss to Brown Friday night.
But there was Tony Visone, a sophomore who had never scored a goal in a varsity uniform prior to last evening, who already had two goals in the game, giving the Crimson sudden life. At 17:24 there was Tony Visone, on his knees, redirecting Greg Britz's pass from behind the net into the net, tying the game at five and giving sudden life and creating the chance for sudden death.
In the overtime, both teams took their shots. Harvard forward Jay North, at 4:41 of the ten-minute period, blasted a quick shot from the left circle. But Friar netminder Mario Proulx kept his team alive, taking the shot in the pads and then falling on the rebound.
Less than a minute later, Crimson netminder Wade Lau's life passed before him in the person of Friar forward Hugh Toppazzini, who whipped a quick shot that Lau had to make a great save on at the 5:30 mark.
Crimson flash Greg Olson almost put the Friars, and the white-knuckled fans of both teams, out of their miseries a minute later. Olson, who had already scored a shorthanded goal in the second' period, flew through center ice with the puck and raced in on Proulx on the right side. But Proulx again came up with the pad save, and sudden death was turning into lingering death.
Fifteen seconds later, a Friar centering pass trickled through the crease in front of Lau, but was flicked safely aside by a Harvard defenseman. A brush with death.
With the Providence forwards really starting to turn it on, Harvard coach Bill Cleary put his checking line on the ice--Powers, center Bill Larson, and Jim Turner--to slow the Friars down. So what actually happened was not exactly expected.
"I went out on the ice not thinking to shoot," Powers said. "I'm not the greatest goal scorer in the world, you know. And Coach Cleary had told me to go out and check."
"But I came down the ice and the guy tried to hit me and he missed. I came off the boards and I looked. There was nothing to shoot at. I just put a shot on net, and it went through his pads. It was a lucky shot."
Lucky for Scott Powers maybe. Lucky for Harvard. But not so lucky for the Friars. The line that was sent out to slow them down did more than that. It squeezed the life right out of them. After 67 minutes and 38 seconds of hockey, it was all over.