Need some big hits to fire Harvard up? Call the utility line. Need a goal to snap a scary scoreless drought? Call the utility line. Need some good old fashion hard-nosed hockey? You know what to do. You know who to call.
The utility line.
The Harvard men's hockey team has flashy players like Captain Ted Drury, junior Brian Farrell and sophomore Steve Martins, but hidden behind the flash and the glitz, snuggled away on the fourth line of forwards, are three players who know that they do the dirty work best.
Sophomores Cory Gustafson and Perry Cohagan and freshman Jason Karmanos showed in last night's 6-2 win over Princeton that sometimes guts, sweat and desire are more important than quick moves and nifty tricks.
Check out these numbers: they scored four out of Harvard's six goals. One goal and one assist from Cohagan. Four assists from Gustafson. Top top it all off, the rookie Karmanos, who entered the game with two goals under his belt for the season, conjured up some hockey magic and finished with a hat trick--that's right, three goals--and a bevy of hats thrown on the ice from the crowd.
"They were outstanding," Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni said after the game. "They've been on fire for a long time, and they put the puck in the net tonight."
And last night the utility line (known on the team as the green line for the color of its practice jerseys) came up with goals at exactly the right moments.
Less than seven minutes into the second period, Princeton's Troy Ewancyna opened the scoring for both teams, and it looked as if the Crimson might be in trouble.
But never fear--the utility line was here. Two minutes after the Tigers' goal, Karmanos busted hard to the goal and knocked home Gustafson's centering pass in classic green line fashion.
"They work really hard," senior Matt Mallgrave said after the game. "They haven't gotten a lot of chances, but tonight they got them and put them away."
But scoring isn't all these guys do. They'll give you any kind of tool you need and at any time.
Two minutes into the first period, for instance, Gustafson threw a hip check that sent a Princeton player flying across the ice and had the Tiger seeing stars for the rest of the game. Cohagan has proven all season that he isn't one to shy from contact, especially when he took a stick to the face and saw some of his blood redden the ice against St. Lawrence.
"We just work hard," Cohagan said. "We're not all that pretty, in keeping with the motif of my face."
Last night, Cohagan, Gustafson, and Karmanos pestered Princeton for every second their line was on the ice, poking the puck away, forechecking and making steals.
"We like to forecheck," Karmanos said. "We create our chances with our forechecking."
Tomassoni forged the line sometimes around Christmas and since then, the three players have been working on developing a rhythm together, getting a sense for how each other play.
"I feel really good playing with my linemates," Gustafson said. "Coach put us together late in the season, and the key is we just talk and talk to each other. I have a strange sense that I know where Perry is on the ice all the time."
The utility line may not be pretty, but it gets the job done. All three players scrap and fight for each loose puck.
"We know what were supposed to do, and we try not to try to go beyond what we know we can do," Gustafson said.
Last night Gustafson was the last player to head off the ice and into the locker room after the second and third periods. Karmanos was the first to thank goalie Aaron Israel for his solid play in net, and this blue-collar line that usually doesn't get much attention finally got some.
In the locker room, sophomore Steve Martins--whose return from injury actually threw these players together--walked around after the game repeating "green line's the best, green line's the best."
After last night's performance, who could argue with him?