How do you spell relief for the Harvard men's hockey team (15-4-2 overall, 12-2-2 ECAC)?
The Crimson faces the Big Green (3-17-1, 2-13-1) at 7:30 tonight in Hanover, N. H. in its first game since Monday night's traumatic 2-1 overtime loss to Boston College in the Beanpot final. The Crimson then travels to Vermont (11-8-5, 7-4-5) for a Saturday night contest.
ECAC cellar-dweller Dartmouth should provide the Crimson with what it needs--a win. The Big Green is 0-9-1 in its last ten games, although it gave the Crimson a Big scare back in January.
Harvard came out on top, 2-1, in a very ugly game. Then again, Harvard played without leading-scorer Steve Martins, who sat out the game for taking a bad penalty the previous night.
Aaron Israel made 18 saves for the Crimson (nine in the third period), while the Big Green's Mike Bracco stopped 27 of 29 Harvard shots.
Bracco was also the main reason that Dartmouth broke its 23-game losing streak to Harvard at Hanover last February. However, he is 2-14-1 this season with a 4.90 goals-against-average.
"Dartmouth has had a disappointing season," Harvard Head Coach Ronn Tomassoni said. "They're a tough team to play, however. [Winning tonight] is a way of salvaging their season."
While Dartmouth has been slipping, Vermont stands among the top five ECAC teams for the last few weeks. The Catamounts are coming off two ties last weekend at Union and Rensselaer.
The outstanding play of three freshmen has given the young Vermont team a tremendous boost. Martin St. Louis (8-14-22 ECAC) and Eric Perrin (8-13-21 ECAC) have to contributed to a offense that was weak last year, while netminder Tim Thomas (7-3-5, 3.30 GAA) has continued to keep the Catamounts in many games.
When Harvard and Vermont met in mid-January, the Crimson played a sloppy defensive game and committed several dumb penalties, Harvard had to come back from one-goal deficits three times before settling for a 4-4 tie. Thomas made 37 saves.
"[Thomas] has stabilized them, especially after the loss of All-American [Christian Soucy], "Tomassoni said. "Vermont is playing really well."
Around the Nation
Harvard is currently the number two team in the nation. The rankings were made prior to Monday's loss to Boston College. Harvard's 4-2 victory over Boston University in the first round of the Beanpot moved the Crimson one spot ahead of the Terriers. However, BU massacred Northeastern, 8-0, this Monday, so these rankings might change once again.
Idle Michigan continues to be the country's top-rated team, sporting a 27-2-1 record.