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"Champs" or "chumps" are the alternatives facing the Harvard hockey players as they fly to Ithaca, N.Y., for tonight's game with Cornell. The Crimson skaters played the latter role only two months ago, folding before the Big Red 9-0 at Watson Rink. But it is five years since Harvard held the Ivy League title which it would clinch by a triumph at Cornell's hostile Lynah Rink.
Chances are, however, that tonight's game (to be broadcast over WHRB beginning at 8 p.m.) will result in neither extreme outcome. Harvard has performed well at Ithaca in the last two years, losing only by narrow 7-6 and 4-3 scores. And on the other hand, in its three years of ascendancy, Coach Ned Harkness's team has never lost an important Ivy game. The token defeats--to Harvard, Yale, and this season Brown--have been significant only as demonstrations that Cornell could lose.
A more interesting guessing game revolves around the ECAC standings. If the Tournament Committee follows recent practice and seeds teams on the basis of won-lost percentages, then Cornell will be first and Princeton eighth, but the pairings of the six teams in between are still very uncertain.
The final seedings will turn largely on the outcomes of last night's Clarkson-St. Lawrence game and tonight's B.C.-B.U. game. If the home teams--B.C. and SLU--win, then Harvard will probably finish in fourth place and play fifth-place Brown. The winner will advance to the semi-finals in the Boston Garden on Friday night against Cornell.
If B.C. and SLU both lose, Clarkson will replace B.C. in the top four. Harvard will remain in fourth, but its opponent will be B.U.
The most likely combination that might move Harvard out of Cornell's side of the draw is a St. Lawrence win coupled with a B.C. loss. In that event, Harvard and B.U. would share 667 percentages, but the Terriers' ties should give the Crimson the third spot, behind Cornell and SLU, paired off with then sixth-place Brown.
Clarkson beat the second place St.Lawrence hockey team last night 8-5, in an ECAC contest.
Splitting its final two games, Harvard could fall no lower than fifth. If that came about, via a SLU loss, the Crimson would have to travel to Canton, N.Y., to play the Larries.
There are of course, other, more remote possibilities, based on unlikely upsets in Saturday's B.C.-Army, B.U. Providence, Clarkson-RPI, and Harvard-Yale games.
What if Harvard beats Cornell tonight? The Crimson would finish no lower than third and could move to second if the Golden Knights knock off the Larries. And the Harvard players know this.
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