Karmanos Shoulders Leadership Role
When a car accident on the eve of the annual Beanpot Tournament added several key players to the Harvard men's hockey team's injured list, senior Jason Karmanos suddenly went from just another solid forward to the team's leading active scorer and most experienced skater.
Without captain Brad Konik, seniors Peter McLaughlin, Tommy Holmes or Kirk Nielsen, the Crimson found itself looking to the hardworking, versatile winger for both scoring punch and leadership. Karmanos welcomed the challenge.
"As the only two seniors playing, [goaltender Tripp Tracy] and I have talked about assuming larger leadership roles," Karmanos says. "Despite the recent difficulties, we have stayed committed to being good leaders in the locker room and on the ice."
Karmanos chose to shoulder the burden of leadership quietly rather than vocally.
"For the younger guys, one of the best ways to lead is by example, as Jason has done," Konik says. "He's been one of the most consistent players all year, so he didn't need to change much after the injuries to be a leader."
As a former roommate of NHL player and U.S. Olympian Ted Drury '93 on road trips, Karmanos recognizes the importance of an upperclass influence on younger players.
"When I look back on my freshman year, I remember more than anything how Ted was such a positive leader for our team," Karmanos says. "I really looked up to him."
Freshman linemate Craig Adams is one player who benefited from Karmanos' expanded role.
"I learned from Jason that you can be an all-around player," Adams says. "He showed me that you don't have to limit yourself to a totally physical defensive game or a totally finesse offensive one."
Adams translated Karmanos' guidance into success, ranking among the top scoring rookies on the team with 13 points in his first 23 games.
Humbly enough, Karmanos attributes Adams' progress to the freshman's own work ethic.
"I wouldn't take any credit for it myself," Karmanos says. "But Craig has played very well and is going to be a heck of a player."
As for his own comportment on the ice, Karmanos has found that sticking with the game plan is the best path to success.
"I try to do the best I can to fill the role [Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni] gives me," Karmanos says. "Even with the top players out of the lineup it seems like you have to step up and do more, you want to be careful not to try to do too much."
Fate could not have chosen a more difficult time than the Beanpot to thrust Karmanos into the spot-light. The injury-riddled Crimson proved no match for either first-round opponent Northeastern or consolation game adversary Boston College, falling 4-1 to the former and 6-2 to the latter.
Harvard's remaining schedule is no easier, as it pits the Crimson against the ECAC's top six teams over a span of two weeks.
Still, Karmanos feels that with the gradual return of the injured veterans and a healthy measure of self-confidence, Harvard's luck could change.
"Despite the downs and the bad breaks we've had with injuries, everyone realizes that we have great potential," Karmanos says. "Nobody in the locker room says 'Hey, we're not really that good of a team and this is the best we can do.' Our best hockey is ahead of us. We can use these six games to really move into a good position for the playoffs."