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Crimson Sextet Wins Holiday Tournament

Varsity Tops Army, B.U., B.C. to Take Christmas Contest

By Charles Steedman

For those who saw only the scores of the Arena Christmas hockey tournament it may have seemed a paradox that the varsity, in finishing first and winning the John Babine Trophy, found last-place West Point tougher to beat than runner-up Boston College.

The answer is the old hockey word "hustle," which the Crimson used to great advantage in defeating Boston University in the semi-finals and B.C. in the finals. And the hustle itself was prompted by a near-upset at the hands of Army in the first round.

Hustle alone would never have won the trophy. It took a lot of ability, too, on the part of a team that has had plenty of it in the form of potential. But until the ability could dominate, which it did in the final period against B.U. and in most of the B.C. game, two things--great hustle and outstanding goaltending by Captain Jim Bailey--saved the day.

Bailey unquestionably salvaged the B.U. encounter for two periods so that his teammates could win it going away with a three-goal burst in the third, 5 to 2. At the end, Bailey had turned away 36 of 38 Terrier shots.

Hustling Sophomores

The hustle seemed to originate in the all-sophomore second line of Dick Fischer, George Higginbottom, and Dave Vietze. Fischer exemplified it when he tallied against West Point, chasing the puck down the right lane, picking it up and outskating the defense to go in clear on the goal.

In the final minutes, Bob Cleary showed that this hustle had infected the rest of the team when he kept the puck in the Army zone almost single-handedly with relentless forechecking. If it was valuable then, against Army, it was vital against B.U. and B.C., the teams that had been called New England's best.

The Crimson took the ice in the opener with West Point obviously overconfident and then tallied three first-period goals to enhance the impression. The playmaking and scoring abilities that had characterized the 10-2 rout of Providence College the week before were much in evidence.

From that point, however, it was a different game: the scoring ability vanished in the second period and the playmaking disappeared in the third. Taking advantage of good goaltending by Larry Palmer and its own close-covering, hard-checking style, Army tied the score, 3 to 3.

McVey Saves Day

Almost panicked by its inability to score and outskated now by superbly-conditioned Army, the varsity played its worst hockey of the tournament until Bob McVey saved entry into the semifinals with a sizzling goal from the blue line five and half minutes before the end.

McVey's goal did something for the Crimson that every tally on to the end of the tournament would similarly accomplish: it restored the varsity's confidence, thereby relaxing the team and improving the quality of its play.

Thus reprieved, the varsity moved on to defeat B.U. in what the Boston papers termed a 5-2 "upset," but which was only an upset in that the Terriers dominated two periods and still lost.

B.U. dominated two-thirds of the game simply because the varsity's defense, especially its covering in front of the cage, was atrocious. Yet the score was only 2 to 2 after two periods be0cause of Bailey's agile play in the goal and the hustle that produced tying goals by Higginbottom and Fischer.

The scores came from hustle alone, for until the third period the Crimson attack found the B.U. defense a stone wall: plays in the Terrier zone, when started, were broken up almost immediately.

The game changed complexion completely at 2:45 of the final stanza. Vietze scored after taking a lead pass from Fischer, to put the varsity in front for the first time. Suddenly the defense jelled. Whereas before, B.U. had controlled the puck even around the Crimson cage, the Terriers now found their plays broken up at the blue line.

Obviously relaxed, the varsity went to work. The third line also took up the pace and looked very sharp, particularly sophomore Les Duncan, who has vastly improved, and senior Dave Holmes. The final tallies came from the sticks of Fischer, at 12:03, and Bob Cleary, at 19:13 on a breakaway.

The prospects for the championship finals with B.C. were dimmed when it was learned a few hours before game time that Higginbottom had cracked his ankle and would probably be sidelined for three weeks.

Sophs vs. NCAA Vets

Hopes could be none too high at any rate because Coach Cooney Weiland was pitting several sophomores against virtually the same B.C. lineup that defeated the Crimson in two of three meetings last season, on its way to the NCAA championships in Colorado.

But when it was over, the Eagles, who have been so highly spoken of--men like Big Don Fox, Jim Tiernan, Billy Leary, and Dick Kane--had little to show; rather, it was the unheralded sophomores for the Crimson who scored the big goals--Dick Reilly, Paul Kelley, and Vietze, all of which indicated as well as anything else that it was a tremendous team victory.

The abilities that had appeared in the final period against B.U. were present in even greater quantity. The defense was infinitely tighter, and time after time Bob Owen and McVey broke up Eagle rushes with devastating pokechecks. Bailey, of course, continued to turn away difficult shots from up close, but it is indicative that he was called upon to make only 16 saves.

It was also indicative of Crimson superiority that B.C.'s veteran third line of Leary, Captain Joe Moylan, and Carl Marino was not only outhustled but out-played as well by the varsity's third line of Holmes, Reilly, and Bill Collins.

Owen's goal from the blue line late in the first period enabled the Crimson to take a 1-0 lead into the second. The Eagles, however, began to play their best hockey of the game and dominated the first half of the stanza: for once they lost their apparent overconfidence and lethargy.

Forcing play into the Crimson zone and keeping it there, B.C. had two goals by 7:11 of the period to take the lead. The second, credited to Tiernan, was a bad break for the varsity, since Bailey accidentally knocked in a pass from behind the cage.

Then twice in the next three minutes the Crimson had the puck in front of the B.C. cage, with goalie Alvie Pitts on the ice to the side after making a save: twice an open net, and twice by some miracle no score resulted. This turn of events--the freak B.C. goal and two such narrow misses--would have broken the spirit of many teams.

Cleary to Kelley

Somehow it didn't. The varsity kept pressing until at 10:37 Reilly, who was toll to dress only at the last minute when Higginbottom's injury was discovered, poked in Fischer's rebound. Once again a Crimson goal changed the complexion of the game: from there on it belonged to the varsity in increasing degrees. The first line was now playing its best hockey since the opening minutes of the Army game, and at the 17-minute mark Cleary set Kelley up with a beautiful pass, which the sophomore converted by swerving in on Pitts from the right.

The final period was no contest. Bailey had to make only one or two tough saves, for the play was mostly in front of Pitts. Vietze made it 4 to 2 at 5:06 with a ten-foot shot after taking Owen's pass.

The Eagles had nothing left. The Crimson turned defense-minded but still dominated play to the extent of keeping it almost completely out of its own zone. Several times the crowd accorded enthusiastic applause to the varsity for each new turn in this defeat of its bitter cross-town rival

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