Harvard's One-Man Show
SCHENECTADY, N.Y.--If you had ideas about jumping back onto the Harvard men's hockey bandwagon following its win over RPI, think again.
You'll probably save yourself a lot of agony.
Harvard couldn't build off its momentum and sank to a new low Saturday, losing to Union, 5-3. The Crimson had never lost to the Dutch men in the teams' seven meetings since Union moved up from Division III, but for the first 20 minutes Saturday the Crimson looked like the team making the transition.
Harvard was outworked and outhustled. Its defense committed numerous turnovers--three of which Union converted into goals--and its offense took 30 minutes to pressure Union goalie Trevor Koenig, a person the Crimson beat three times in the first 11 minutes back in November.
If losses to lowly Yale, Boston College and Dartmouth hadn't driven home the point that Harvard is having an `off-year,' Saturday's journey to the bottom of the Hudson River had to--the defeat combined with Clarkson's win over Dartmouth to officially eliminate Harvard from the ECAC regular season race.
Harvard is still in third place, but it can still finish as low as eighth place if it fails to beat either St. Lawrence or Clarkson this Friday and Saturday.
Remember, nobody on this year's Crimson outside of Michel Breistroff (who took last year off) has played for a Harvard team that didn't win the regular-season crown.
The Crimson just isn't very good. It isn't bad either. The squad cannot execute on a consistent basis.
"We're not as talented as everyone thinks we are," Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni conceded following the Union loss.
The Crimson has potential, but it is a team that lives and dies for the most part by one individual--Steve Martins.
Friday, Martins scored two goals and set up two others and Harvard won, 5-3.
Saturday, Martins felt woozy and had to miss a good chunk of the first period and the entire second, and the Crimson yielded the first five goals of the game to the Dutchmen.
That's not a typo--5-0. Five Union goals. Nothing from Harvard--the big goose-egg.
Not convinced? Martins received a doctor's clearance to play the third period, and suddenly Harvard had an offensive spark--Martins scored Harvard's first goal of the game just 1:11 into the third period, and the Crimson would score two more to cut the deficit to 5-3, but it was too little, too late.
Before this weekend, Harvard's offensive was stagnant. The team scored 17 goals in seven games and lost five of those seven..
Harvard's power play showed some signs of life this past weekend, but the team still generated very little evenstrength offense.
Martins does his job. His skating and stick-handling is second to none. But he doesn't usually have anyone to pass to or to set him up, and when he is goaded into taking penalties, the offense pretty much evaporates.
"I think too many people wait for Stevie Martins to do something for us," Tomassoni said. "Stevie cannot do it alone, with them or without them."
And Saturday gave people a little preview of what next year might be like, when there is no Martins, and if nobody steps up.
Then again, when Ted Drury turned professional in 1993, most people thought last year's squad would have no offense. People like Martins, Brian Farrell '94, Sean McCann '94 and Chris Baird '94, to name a few, picked up the slack.
So far this season nobody outside Martins has come even close to being a go-to guy.
"One guy cannot do it," Tomassoni said. "We got to have 20 guys stepping forth saying, `Hey I'm the guy and I'm going to do it each night.' It's not an individual game."
The non-Steve-Martins Crimson was exposed Saturday, and the sight wasn't pretty. Harvard was outplayed by then 11th-place Union.
There still is time--the ECAC playoffs--for a Harvard renaissance, but the resurgence will have to be led by someone other than Martins. Martins is already doing all he can.
The problem is, not many others are. And next year isn't far away.