Jim Turner had picked up the puck at center ice and figured he'd bang it off the boards back into the Boston College zone. Bob O'Connor saw Turner hit it, decided it would caroom behind the net and moved out of the cage to cut it off.
And then suddenly--for the rest of their lives neither Turner nor O'Connor will ever know exactly how--the puck was in the net and the Harvard hockey team was on its way to the Boston Garden.
"I always say that 50 percent of goaltending is anticipation." O'Connor said in the funereal B.C. locker room after the game, "and I anticipated that the puck was going behind the net. I didn't see it, but the guys told me that it deflected off the referee's shinguard."
Nobody missed what happened next, least of all Turner. The junior forward was engulfed by a mob scene usually reserved for overtime goals or Beanpot victories. His teammates poured out onto the ice, flung each other around in a frenzy of happiness, and then invited themselves to the ECAC's Garden party with 21 minutes of highlight-film hockey.
Before the goal, the teams had been playing exciting but frustrating hockey. Harvard had been getting most of the shots, but Boston College had been getting most of the breaks. By the time Turner picked up the puck less then two minutes from the second intermission, it was clear the first goal--whenever it came--would be a big one.
"All we had was frustration until that goal went in," said Harvard winger Brian Busconi. "That goal gave us the confidence we needed that we could score. From there, the tide was turned."
Turner's goal unshackled the ebullient Harvard spirit that had powered the squad's last four wins. Suddenly, the Bad Luck Bears of mid-season were gone, and the confident, free-wheeling bunch whose playoff run is the ECAC story of the year was back.
The fastest team in the conference when they want to skate, the icemen were too much for a tight B.C. squad playing catch-up-hockey. "They're a different team than they were back in January," said Eagle coach Len Ceglarski. "They've grown up. They've got composure. They do a lot of things right out there."
With Wade Lau extra-sharp in the Harvard nets, and the pesky Crimson forwards (single out Busconi and Scott Powers for special praise) worth their weight in bulldozers along the boards, Boston College bowed out in the first round for the third straight year.
It's typical of this opportunist, pick 'em-up club that the television cameras and journalists didn't know whom to talk to in the Harvard locker room. Was the story Lau, whose three shutouts out of four consecutive must-win games may be an ECAC record? Was it Michael Watson, the senior captain and four-year starter, who popped home the crucial insurance goal and played a fine two-way game? Was it the five defensemen, who have allowed just four goals in four games and deserve much of the credit for the turnaround?
Or was it the quiet forward with the locker behind the post who simply banged the puck into the offensive zone, turned his back...and discovered he had scored one of the freakiest goals in recent memory?
The majority finally decided it was the last, and so Jim Turner ("I'm not used to all this publicity") faced the cameras and fielded most of the questions. And he had to smile when one reporter asked him, in jest, if he had been practicing that shot.
"No, you can't practice that one," said Turner. "That's a once-in-a-lifetime shot, one in a million. But I figured something had to break it."