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At 8:05 tonight, Boston College hockey coach "Snooks" Kelley, clad in a yellow camel's hair coat, will amble solemnly into the locker room where his boys are dressing, and, his face taut with emotion, will deliver his traditional Harvard game fight talk.
"I shouldn't have to tell you about Harvard," he'll advise. "Just the name Harvard ought to get you angry enough to play your best hockey. That's all I have to say."
And with a slap on the back and a big Irish grin, Kelley will send his squad rumbling onto the ice at McHugh Forum, eager to knock the Crimson into the cheap seats.
Unfortunately, the talk and B. C.'s rough, bruising style usually are enough to get Harvard's number no matter what sort of material shows up at Chestnut Hill each winter. The Eagles have won five of the last six games, including three in overtime, and when the two teams meet tonight, Harvard will be the underdog once again.
Three weeks ago, however, it didn't seem as though that would be the case.
The Eagles had lost four of their top five defensemen and goaltender George McPhee from last year's 19-11-1 team, and it looked doubtful that their high-scoring line of Paul Schilling, Tim Sheehy, and John Snyder could produce enough goals to compensate for the loss. A 6-5 overtime victory over weak Providence did little to dispel those doubts, and subsequent triumphs over Princeton and Northeastern, both destined for horrible seasons, were scant help in providing an accurate measure of the Eagles' talent.
But last week, paced by four Sheehy goals, B. C. demolished a good Brown team. 8-3. at Chestnut Hill, and when Brown rebounded to dump Harvard last Saturday, it threw pre-season reports into confusion.
So despite the information that recent game results can provide, tonight's contest, like most Harvard-Boston College games, could well be reduced to a battle of conflicting, highly polarized styles.
The Eagle style of hockey is based on hard-hitting and harder shooting. With lessened emphasis on finesse or precision play. It is not designed so much to be an end in itself, but primarily a means of throwing the opposition off its own game, and it is highly successful, especially against Harvard.
But the Crimson plays a drastically different game based on crisp, direct passing and strict position play, and when it adheres to it, Harvard is quite difficult to heat.
Clearly the key to a Harvard victory this evening will be its determination to stick with its style despite B. C. harassment, and the fact that the game is being played at McHugh Forum, one of the East's more renowned snakepits, will not make the task any easier.
But in terms of raw talent, the Eagles can't quite match Harvard, B. C. has only one line that can skate with the Crimson, an untested and shallow defense, and instability in the goal. But it has the ability to throw Harvard off its style and there is always the Snooker fight talk. It may just be another overtime game.
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