You can see it in their eyes, the confidence of experience having displaced the emotions of youth. Businesslike, even cold and calculating now, Harvard hockey says "Don't mess with us," and for nine games nobody has.
It was almost three months ago that Harvard stumbled into a road game at Colgate and was deservedly humbled for the first of only three times all year. The Crimson put 44 shots on Red Raider goalie Jason Gates, and although he only stopped 38 of them, the visitors were left reeling as defensive miscues and immature penalties greased the path to a 7-6 loss.
But these kids have grown up in the 83 days since that first hiccup, learning to maximize their opportunities and pounce on what chances they can create. Even though last night's game laid no claim to artistic greatness, Harvard managed to pack four goals into only 26 shots. And although the Crimson were outshot for one of the few times all year, this 4-1 win was never in any doubt.
"It's nice to win any game, but we know we beat a pretty good hockey team tonight," Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni stressed after quitting time last night. "We did what we had to do, and although as a team we were a little sluggish, I'm pleased with the way we bounced back from the emotion of the Beanpot game Monday night [against Boston University]."
It was RPI that knocked Harvard (14-3-2, 11-2-2 ECAC) off between Beanpot wins last February, but although Colgate (11-10-2, 8-5-2
2 ECAC) looked on paper to be dangerous thistime around, the Red Raiders died by a power playit had lived by in Hamilton, N.Y., in upsettingthe Crimson last November.
Colgate drew a blank in eight man-up chances(having converted three of nine in the previousmeeting), and Harvard tallied on its first threeopportunities in extending its unbeaten streak.
Junior Steve Martins again put his best skateforward, catalyzing the special teams with a goaland two assists on the night.
"What can I say--Marty was Marty," Tomassonisaid.
Martins, as dynamic on the ice as he has beenall year, created Harvard's first goal during afive-on-three situation after the Crimson hadweathered two early penalties. From the left-wingcorner, he spotted a wide-open Brian Farrell inthe slot, and the senior flicked the puck pastGates for his 18th goal of the year, tops on theteam.
Only 41 seconds later, at the 7:49 mark of thefirst and still on the power play, Martins turnedsniper, taking advantage of a missed Red Raiderdefensive assignment and rocketing one just underthe crossbar. Gates stood no chance of stoppingwhat proved to be the game-winning goal.
"Toning down my emotions really has helped mefocus on my own play," the oft-penalized Martinsnoted after the game. "The other guys are gettingopen, and mostly its just a matter of findingthem--I had a lot of opportunities tonight."
Colgate stood one chance of getting back intothe game, midway through the second period, whenChris DeProforio cleaned up a rebound in front ofHarvard netminder Aaron Israel and sliced theCrimson lead in half.
But Martins again showed some virtuosopuck-handling, drawing the Red Raider defense withhim down low behind the net and leaving defensemanSean McCann wide open to Gates' left.
The Crimson captain punched his fifteen-footerthrough heavy traffic in the crease, and only 56seconds after DeProforio had given Colgate life,McCann's goal effectively snuffed it.