For the Harvard hockey team, the first game will be the toughest. It will be so tough that the Crimson won't even expect to win. Just scoring a few goals will be satisfaction enough.
On November 8--Sunday. Bloody Sunday--the Crimson will face off against the College All-Stars, also known as the United States Olympic Team.
If the Olympians' seven previous games against college teams are any indication, the Crimson will lose big. The U.S. Team is 7-0 against college opponents--which have included the likes of Hockey East powerhouses Boston College and Boston University--and have outscored them, 65-16. B.U. and goaltender Peter Fish came the closest to beating the U.S. squad, but fell 6-3. B.C. scored the most goals against the U.S.--four--but gave up 12.
The Olympians travel to Burlington, Vt., November 6 to take on the University of Vermont. Two nights later, they'll be in Harvard's Bright Center. Red, white and blue meets red and white.
Oh, what a night.
"I'm going to be pretty nervous for that one," said Olympian Lane MacDonald, who led the Crimson in goals and points last year and helped the team capture the ECAC Championship. "Harvard's going to be really good this year. They're not getting a lot of publicity, which is good. They've got a good defense and some great players."
"Harvard should be right back in there to win the ECAC again," he added. "I expect to be going to Lake Placid [N.Y.] for the [NCAA] Final Four."
The Crimson is hurt by the losses of MacDonald and Allen Bourbeau--both playing for the Olympic Team--and Tim Barakett, Mark Benning, Peter Chiarelli, Butch Cutone, Rick Haney, Dickie McEvoy and Randy Taylor, all of whom graduated last year.
A young Harvard team, picked by ECAC coaches to finish second behind St. Lawrence in the ECAC, awaits the Olympic juggernaut.
Crimson, Red, White and Blue
Harvard has three representatives on the Olympic Team--Bourbeau, MacDonald and 1984-'85 Captain Scott Fusco, who played professional hockey in Switzerland last year. Fusco is one of two '88 Olympians (the other is Cory Millen) who played in the '84 games, and he is enjoying his second time around more than the first. Besides, he says, the team is better.
"[In '84] we had a bunch of skaters and a bunch of checkers," Fusco said. "This team is picked so all the guys can play both ends of the ice. The speed and the size are there. I hope this time we'll have a more successful team."
The '84 unit finished in seventh place at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, despite wrapping up the competition in high fashion with a 7-3 victory over Austria, a 3-3 tie with Sweeden and a 7-4 triumph over Poland. The U.S. Team did not make the medal round, however, and wound up with a 2-2-2 record.
But the team had to face the pressure of living up to the standards of the 1980 Olympic Team, which captured the gold medal at Lake Placid.
Fusco, the Crimson's 1985 scoring champ, and MacDonald, the '86 scoring leader, were linemates at Harvard. Now they're back on the same line with the Olympians. Fusco has eight goals and 14 assists in 21 games and MacDonald has 11 goals and 14 assists in 22 games.
"I'm not really pressing--they'll go in," said Fusco, who finished his Harvard career with a school-record 107 goals and 133 assists. "Every guy here is used to scoring a lot of points, but not everyone's going to do it on this team. We just have to make sure we play well together."
Bourbeau, who played center on MacDonald's line last year, is on a unit with Boston University's Clark Donatelli and Boston College's Steve Leach. He has knocked in 10 goals (including two game-winners) and added seven assists for the Olympians.
"He's playing well," MacDonald said. "He keeps progressing, playing better and better. He has a great touch around the net and he scores a lot. That whole line is playing really well."
A Blunt Boss
No question, Olympic Coach Dave Peterson knows how to coach. But he's not as colorful as say, Harvard's Billy Cleary.
Peterson's as mum as they come.
Peterson responds to most questions with a word or two. Sometimes, he'll elaborate--with a sentence. Two nights ago, Craig Janney scored three goals in the Olympians' 12-4 rout of Boston College. A reporter wanted a comment on Janney's play.
"Obviously, he scored three goals--he must have played well, Peterson said.
Next question, please.
Notes From All Over:
The Olympic Team has an official reserve goaltender--Paul ("The Chief") DeGironimo, Army's former goalie. In addition to practicing with the team, DeGironimo also acts as an "administrative assistant," according to the media guide. Last year, The Chief went 0-2 against Harvard, surrendering 13 goals...The University of Minnesota has five players on the U.S. Olympic squad. Boston College has four. Harvard and the University of Wisconsin have three apiece...Bourbeau's linemate, Steve Leach, played for the Washington Capitals last year.