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At 8:30 tonight, in the Boston Garden, the varsity hockey team will attempt to do four very vital things:
(1) Win the first game of the 55th annual series with Yale;
(2) Impress the Elis' coach, Murray Murdock, who is a member of the three man N.C.A.A. Selection Committee;
(3) Virtually clinch the Crimson's fourth consecutive Ivy League title (one short of Dartmouth's record of five);
(4) Show the expected record college hockey crowd of 10,000 why it is considered one of the two best balanced teams in the East.
To do these things, the Crimson Sextel will have to beat a Yale team which, at its best, is still probably five goals behind the varsity. This estimate is, of course, based on season's statistics, which are not supposed to mean anything in a Harvard-Yale athletic match.
There is always that legend that the favored team in this series is secretly the underdog. This year, however, by no kind of figuring can the Crimson be considered the underdog.
As Coach Cooney Weiland explained at the hockey writers' luncheon last week: "We are not only the highest scoring team in the East, but one of the best defensively. Our depth is superior... and our defense is sound, with four capable men and two fine goalies."
The team's Ivy League play definitely proves Weiland's point. The Crimson has scored 37 goals in five games, while allowing only five against league opponents.
Yale, meanwhile, though not as impressive in Ivy competition as the Crimson, has at least clinched a tie for second place with a record of 5-1. After losing their league opener to Dartmouth, the Elis have won five straight Ivy games and had a string of six wins going until Army beat them on Wednesday.
This late-season surge might mean trouble for the varsity, but only if, as Murdock explained last night, "Yale plays its best and Harvard is slightly below part."
In the individual scoring race, center Bob Clearly, who is the East's top scorer, has reached a total of 69 points. This is the same total which his brother, Bill, had at this time in the 1955 season. Bill Clearly went on to set the N.C.A.A. record with 89 points.
As a committeeman of the N.C.A.A., Murdock would not comment on the varsity's chances of winning an Eastern position for the tourney on March 14. The committee will not meet at least until after the Clarkson-St. Lawrence game next Wednesday and perhaps not until March 10.
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