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Last night the Varsity Hockey squad entrained for Canada to continue its gruelling February League schedule with two games this week in the frozen North--Montreal University tonight at the Montreal Arena and McGill tomorrow night at the same place. Following closely on the heels of two rather hectic Quadrangular League battles, with Dartmouth and Yale respectively, this Canadian trip will complete just about as tough a week's ice workout as the most ardent hockey fan could hope for.
With the college ice season more than half over, it is pretty certain that Clark Hodder's first Varsity puck team will not carry off the laurels in either the international or the Quadrangular League. But no sane Crimson hockey rooter really expected the squad to show any fireworks this year. Faced with the problem of a comparatively inexperienced team with practically no veteran material and with only one really outstanding star, Hodder has had a difficult situation in his first year at the new job, and the team's record of four wins, four losses, and one deadlock to date, is actually a fine tribute to the system of Hodder's coaching and the spirit of his charges.
An Unpredictable Team
It has been said a lot before, but it is still true: this year's Varsity ice team is an unpredictable one of many extremes. In its first two games, against the Junior Olympics and Southern California the squad upset the dope with two decisive victories. Then it lost to a rather mediocre B. U. sextet by a 6 to 3 score, and immediately after the Christmas vacation was taken into camp by Toronto to the tune of 11 to 1.
The following week the handful of Crimson rooters who ventured forth to the Garden in the expectation of seeing the Hoddermen slaughtered by a very fast Queens outfit were amazed when the Canadian six came out on the short end of a very definite 4 to 2 score. And in the same week the Varsity continued in the win column with a win over Princeton in its Quadrangular League opener. Then last week the squad came very close to beating a strong Dartmouth team and battled the veteran Elis to a 2 to 2 overtime deadlock at New Haven.
The surprise victory over Queens, the January turning point in the Varsity's campaign, was largely due to a change in tactics, for in that encounter Hodder began the wise policy of beating out a faster team by playing a close-checking game and capitalizing on breaks for offensive sallies. But tactics alone cannot explain the Varsity's tendency to blow very hot one night and very cold the next. As Coach Hodder explains it, it is largely due to the team's inexperience.
Harding Outstanding Star
Certainly the outstanding star of this year's team and very probably one of the finest players in the League is Captain Austie Harding, first-line center. With four goals and five assists in the five League games that he has played in so far, he is leading the rest of his team in scoring. Goals and assists not show fully Harding's value to the team, however, for he has been a continual threat defensively and played more minutes on the ice than any other Crimson skater and as evidence of his clean playing, it is interesting to note that he is one of the few of the leading scorers who has not done time in the penalty box.
Joe Patrick, of the Patrick hockey family, left-winger on Harding's line, stands next to Austie in scoring, with four goals and two assists, a record that was recently augmented by his two tallies against Yale last Friday. And Warren Winslow, who has been holding down the other wing berth on the same line, follows him. Substitute lines have been a big problem for Hodder this year, with most of the teams he has had to face having strong second and third trios. The second line of DeRahm, Eaton, and Cutler, has shown up well in recent games, however and the sophomore line of Ervin, Willets, and Hulse is excellent material.
The defense, badly weakened by the graduation of stars from last year's team, has been another big worry, although Win Jameson, converted forward, Bill Coleman, Carstein, and Perkins showed a lot of improvement in last week's games. Vint Freedley, Coach Hodder's choice in goal after nearly a month of alternating him with Johnson and Mittell, has shown very definitely that he warranted the job.
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