The 'V' Spot: Seniors Can Hold Their Heads High
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.--When Dominic Moore scored his overtime winner Saturday, the Harvard sophomore did not erupt with the usual elation after ending sudden death.
Instead, he skated away with a smirk on his face, and headed right for his team bench where his older brother, Harvard captain Steve Moore, was waiting with open arms.
The Moore brothers embraced after Dominic made sure that Steve finished his Crimson career on a high note.
"To send the seniors out with a win was big," Dominic Moore said. "And to have my brother smile at the end of the day was awesome. It made me smile too."
The captain already had reason to smile during the game. He setup freshman Tyler Kolarik's goal at 12:26 of the second giving him 123 points for his Harvard career, moving him past Tim Smith '86 for 19th all-time in Harvard scoring. He led the Crimson in scoring in his first three years, only to be surpassed this season by his younger brother.
Next year, Steve Moore will be NHL-bound, as a second round draft pick of the Colorado Avalance. Assistant captain Chris Bala will join him in the big leagues, but for the Ottawa Senators.
Moore and Bala are two of five members of the Crimson Class of 2001. Center Harry Schwefel, Tim Stay and the ECAC Goaltender of the Year, Oliver Jonas, round out the list.
This was not quite the send-off they imagined a couple days ago. Deep in their hearts, all of them were longing for at least one more week of hockey. Cornell goaltender Matt Underhill stopped 45 shots to end their quest for an ECAC Championship.
Still, these seniors should have no regrets. Harvard accomplished all of its preseason goals this year. It registered its best season since 1993-94 with a 16-15-1 record, good for third place in the conference. It had home ice for the first round of the playoffs and it advanced to Lake Placid. A championship, however theoretically attainable, would have been gravy.
The team went out on a high note. The Crimson was dominant in defeat against the Big Red. Except for a span of 2:37 when Cornell shocked even itself by scoring three goals, Harvard controlled play up and down the ice. It just couldn't catch a break.
In future years, Harvard will.
"I told our seniors that in two or three years when we win this thing, they will have been the stepping stone to bringing our program back to the stop." Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said.
There will be plenty of time down the road to speculate on just how good the Crimson will be with players like Dominic Moore, Kolarik, sophomore winger Brett Nowak, freshman winger Dennis Packard and freshman defenseman Kenny Smith.
But Saturday afternoon at the 1980 Olympic Center in Lake Placid belonged to those who will have to watch Harvard's future success from the stands. The Moore brothers were not the only players hugging on the ice.
Each player has staked his claim to the legacy of the Harvard hockey family. The stories range from Bala's overtime winner to stun Boston College in the 1998 Beanpot all the way to Jonas biding his time on the bench for three years and then exploding this season to win the Ken Dryden Award as the conference's best netminder.
The biggest contribution of the seniors to the program was not any individual moment, but the attitude they brought into the locker room. The Crimson as a team was much more cohesive on and off the ice this season, exhibiting a chemistry not as present before Mazzoleni took over as coach.
"I am grateful for the contributions of every single one of the seniors," Dominic Moore said. "They have all been great."
The seniors have seen the program in some of its darkest times, enduring a hideous a 0-8-1 ECAC start their sophomore season, and had to adjust to a new coaching regime halfway through their tenure. But the Crimson has righted its ship. The consolation match-up this year very well might be the championship game next year, since Dartmouth is not losing any integral player to graduation.
If Dominic Moore is smiling after that game, you can bet that somewhere Steve will be, too.