Harvard hockey Coach Bill Cleary had given up answering the big question--why can't Harvard win a Beanpot?--a long time ago.
Now, he's passing on the small question--why can't Harvard win a consolation game?
For the second straight year, Boston College pulled out a lategame triumph over the Crimson in the 'Pot consolation contest--this time, 4-2, before a tiny Boston Garden crowd.
Last year, the Eagles scored with zero seconds left in overtime. This year, they nailed the game-winner with 1:02 left on a puck that dropped out of the rafters and then threw in an insurance goal from 80 feet 40 seconds later.
So who could blame Cleary, with a resigned grin on his face, for shrugging another 'Pot loss.
"I don't know, I don't know," said Cleary, whose team dropped a 6-4 decision to Boston University in the opening round of the 'Pot last Monday. "It's perplexing."
And what could not be retrieved or understood should be forgotten.
"I told the kids I don't want to hear about this," Cleary Said. "We've got two big games coming up in our league and we're in first place. That's all I want to hear. What's the use of brooding?"
The anticipation of this weekend's home games against Cornell (Friday) and Colgate (Saturday) could not lift the pall that befell the Crimson locker room last night. Losing is hard. Losing again and again--as Harvard has at Boston Garden in the Beanpot--makes you want put a truck-full of dynamite under the venerable structure.
"There's not much you can say about it," Harvard Captain Steve Armstrong said. "It's not as though bad luck had anything to do with it. We just didn't deserve to win the game."
Harvard and B.C. slow danced to a 2-2 tie late in the third period. But with 62 seconds on the clock, B.C. Co-Captain Dan Shea cradled a puck that had bounced high off the boards and stuck a 40-ft. shot past goalie Michael Francis and into the Crimson net.
With 51 seconds left, Francis was removed in favor of a sixth skater for a face-off in the Eagle end. Harvard controlled, and Armstrong had a chance to put in a rebound with 23 seconds left, but couldn't quite get his stick on it.
"The puck came across the crease," Armstrong said. "It's typical of the way things go for us sometimes. It just didn't go for us."
Instead, Shea took the puck, whirled around and fired a shot from the B.C. circles into the empty Harvard net.
"Both times I just closed my eyes and shot it," Shea said.
The Crimson (14-6) has not won a game out of the ECAC all year, posting a 0-4 mark against non-league opponents. In the two tournaments it has played this year (December's Long Island Classic was the first), Harvard has finished in fourth place both times.
In both tournaments, Harvard was easy pickings. Before the Long Island Classic, the Crimson took a break for Christmas. And in the first round of the Beanpot last Monday, the Crimson had not played in two weeks.
Yesterday, however, the Crimson was coming off a weekend road sweep of Army and Princeton--enough time and practice one would think, to iron out the passes and whip up the shots.
"Don't invite me to the Garden in February," Cleary said. "Invite me in March [for the ECAC Tournament], but not in February. We had the puck the whole second period, and we didn't score. We didn't shoot enough."
Harvard jumped out to a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period on goals by Ted Donato (at 11:19) and Jerry Pawloski (17:53). But the Eagles pulled even with 14 seconds left in the second period on a Bill Nolan shot from just inside the blue line that wiggled through Francis' pads.
"Sometimes, we tried to get a little too fancy," B.C. Coach Len Ceglarski said. "The first two goals were right between the goaltender's legs. That should be reason enough to shoot the thing, but we don't."
Francis smothered an Eagle flurry with two minutes left in the third period. But then it was time for shea to take the puck from the sky and wing it into the Harvard net.
Beanpot II was a frustrating sequel.
THE NOTEBOOK: After snuffing out 12 of 12 power-plays last weekend, the Crimson penalty killers went one-for-three yesterday...Ceglarski praised the play of Crimson defensemen Don Sweeney and Jerry Pawloski, calling them, "The best defensive pair I've seen all year". ...Crimson forward Peter Ciavaglia sat out for a second straight game with back problems. Again, John Murphy took his place on the second line. Eagles, 4-2 at Boston Garden Boston Coll. 1-1-2--4 Harvard 2-0-0--2
First Period--1, BC, Devereaux 9 (Shea, Marshall) 9:42; 2, H, Donato 7 (Murphy) 11:19; 3, Pawloski 2 (Armstrong) 17:53. Penalties--BC, Mullowney (elbowing) 5:41; H, Barringer (tripping) 8:38; BC Pergola (high sticking) 8:45; H, Janfaza (high-sticking) 8:45.
Second Period--4, BC, Nolan 5 (Devereaux, Shea) 19:46. Penalties--BC, Pergola (cross-checking) 16:06; H, Farden (high-sticking) 16:06; H, Pawloski (interference) 17:45.
Third Period--5, BC, Shea 18 (Stapleton, Devereaux) 18:58; 6, BC, Shea 19 (unassisted) 19:24. Penalties--H, Murphy (tripping) 10:07.
Saves--BC, Galuppo 8-7-9--24; H, Francis 10-8-6--24.