On Hockey: Crimson Can Sink No Lower

BOSTON—The ‘thud’ you heard from across the river around 10:30 last night was the sound of a team, and a season, hitting rock-bottom.

The Harvard men’s hockey team lost to No. 2 Boston College in the Beanpot semifinals, 4-1, in a showcase of everything that has gone wrong with a once-promising season. And, before 15,753 witnesses at the FleetCenter, the Crimson’s habitual mistakes were laid bare for all of Boston to see.

The offense was sporadic, the breakout choppy, and the goaltending suspect. There was a mélange of missed opportunities, defensive missteps and boneheaded penalties. Hanging over it all was the malaise of uncertain, ineffective play.

In a way, we should’ve seen this coming. Harvard has been woefully inconsistent this season, and had a relatively strong showing at nationally-ranked Brown on Saturday. According to their established pattern, our guys were due for a bad game. And they delivered.

To be fair, the Crimson did fall behind, 2-0, on two plays that give new meaning to the term “fluky goals,” but, once again, Harvard proved to be its own worst enemy.

“Especially in the first period, we played extremely tentatively,” said Crimson coach Mark Mazzoleni. “Against a team like that, that’s what’s going to happen.”

How sluggish was the start? Harvard didn’t put its 10th shot on goal until the third period.

An exhaustive search for a reason to come out so flat turned up empty. The Crimson was playing in the Cadillac of college hockey tournaments, in an NHL building, in front of a packed house, against a cross-town rival, in a game that could have given it real hope for what is left of a disappointing season.

How many ways could you say that this was a money game? And how many ways could you say Harvard failed to cash in?

“We didn’t get the job done,” Mazzoleni said.

Bad Theatre

The Crimson’s first period came as a collaborative effort of two scripts: the Keystone Cops On Ice and the part of The Mighty Ducks when the team was just called “District Five” and Goldberg was afraid of the puck.

The good news about the game’s first goal was that Harvard junior Tom Cavanagh scored it. The bad news was that he scored it on Dov Grumet-Morris, not Matti Kaltiainen.

Strange but true. BC forward Patrick Eaves went behind the Crimson net and centered the puck in front … right to Cavanagh, whose stick was inexplicably moving toward the goal line.

Cavanagh knocked it past Grumet-Morris, then knocked his glove against his head in coulda-hada-V8 disbelief. Everyone in the building was baffled. The crowd laughed at the replay. Grumet-Morris smiled and shook his head.

“We didn’t start off too well,” Mazzoleni said lightly.

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