Going into the final two weekends of the regular season, it's hard for the Harvard men's hockey team not to think ahead.
When the magic number is one--the third-ranked Crimson (18-2-2 overall, 15-1-2 ECAC) needs just one more win or an RPI loss to clinch the ECAC title--depth perception becomes skewed.
Things further away look bigger. Like the ECAC Tournament less than two weeks from now.
Or, even better, the NCAAs--which start a month from today.
But Harvard has four more games to wrap up, including tonight's contest against Dartmouth in Hangover, N.H., and tomorrow night's against Vermont in Burlington.
So before the team starts dreaming of Lake Placid (the ECAC final), it has to put the Big Green and the Catamounts to sleep.
Harvard has faced both Dartmouth (9-13-0 overall, 7-11-0 ECAC) and Vermont (12-11-3 overall, 10-7-1 ECAC) this season, dispatching both teams at Bright Hockey Center, 6-4 and 4-0 respectively.
Harvard, however, was not entirely pleased with its performance on the road last weekend against Cornell and Colgate.
Although the Crimson pulled out two victories in Nowhere Land (up state New York, for the uninitiated), both games found Harvard struggling to score, and against Colgate, the Crimson needed a late comeback to win.
"We had the problem of playing down to the competition's level [last weekend]," junior Derek Maguire said. "We can't do that again."
Playing down to the Big Green's level means playing the type of hockey that has cost Dartmouth five of its last seven games.
But the Big Green boasts some talented forwards, including juniors Scott Fraser and Tony DelCarmine and rookie Bill Kelleher.
Fraser, a 6'0", 200 pound wing leads the team in scoring with 17 goals and 18 assists. With support from Kelleher and DelCarmine, this first line can score goals in hurry.
The problem for the Big Green this season has been stopping the goals from scoring in a hurry. With a slew of freshman defenders, Dartmouth has allowed opponents to outscore it by 20 goals this season.