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Sixteen varsity skaters hit the road for Montreal and possibly their longhest hockey match last night, commencing a five-game holiday junket for 1947-48. McGill University, their Canadian opponent, considers its ice team "the most important heritage to the world of sport," and the last time the boys across the border faced an American squad, they shattered Yale's high-flying 1946-47 sextet, 10 to 0.
Crimson Coach Johnny Chase still has a squad in the throes of development, and he hopes for experience more than for success in this vacation opener on foreign soil, scheduled for this evening at 8:15 o'clock.
If strength comes as a result of adversity, the skaters may expect to rebound from a rough time this Christmas to find smoother sailing in February and March against their traditional Ivy League foes. Right now such future opponents as Yale and Dartmouth loom as heavy favorites, with Princeton as an even-money choice.
McGill boasts, among others, of Jack Gelineau, 22-year old goal tender from Mount Royal, Quebee, who is rated as tops in Canadian circles and who is a definite prospect for the Boston Bruins. The rest of the Canadian University's squad-biography list reads like a pro and semi-pro roster, with such descriptions as "spent three years with the Boston Olympics" and "played also for the Verdun Maple Leafs" scattered throughout.
By way of background, Canada's northern climate provides natural ice for over half the year and natural skaters from the time youthful natives are old enough to walk. The earliest hockey game on authentic historical record was played on Montreal's Victoria skating rink with two McGill students piloting the opposing teams. The present coach, popular Dave Campbell, is a heavy believer in the farm system for developing talent.
After tonight's game, the players will disperse for the Christmas holidays, to reassemble December 27 in Chicago, when it is hoped that wingman Bob Feloney and goalie Bill Yetman will rejoin the group. This currently ailing duo played in first or second-string capacities for the Varsity last winter.
From Chicago, the team will head west for Colorado Springs and a double bill with Colorado College December 29 and 30. Returning east, they will play two games with the University of Minnesota in Minnapolis on January 2 and 3. The sextet comes back to Cambridge ice on January 7 to oppose Northeastern in the Arena.
Colorado College, known familiarly as the Bengals, is the only college in the Rockies to boast a hockey team, and although its rink competition is only nine years old, the mountaineers modestly call their schedule "one of the roughest in the united States." Frankly looking to the north for material, Colorado has a team roster of 17 that lists 12 Canadians, but their 1945-46 team won-and-lost record (against teams largely from Canada) shows a lean three victories, all against the same team, as opposed to eight losses.
Large Squad to Travel
Chase will take with him three lines, five defensemen, and two goalies (excluding Feloney and Yetman), as well as two managers and a trainer.
The coach is still standing by his starting trio of Dave Key, Johnny Crocker, and Wally Sears, while captain Jack Lavalle continues in the nets. Standing out at defense and rated the most improved skater on the squad, Dick Greeley may pair with any of four partners in the Crimson's most uncertain position thus far.
No word has permeated the Hub area regarding Minnesota's sextet, save that the Gophers registered two decisive wins over Colorado last winter.
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